July 13, 2011


Midnight in Moscow had the shortest main-venue run of any play in New Zealand. On its second night the curtain came down, followed next afternoon by the ceiling. This was the play that had just opened at the Court Theatre in Christchurch when the great earthquake of February 22 hit, killing 185 people.

Now the full text is published, together with a major introduction by the author. The book retails for $24.99 and is available through bookshops or through the publisher’s website: www.steeleroberts.co.nz 

The play is set in Moscow, 1947; the introduction is set in Moscow, too, in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and then at the demise of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Along the way the introduction takes in Burgess and Philby, Napier in the early 1960s, hippie London, New Zealand politics and theatre in the ’70s, Christchurch and Mervyn Thompson and finally the present — the return of the mob.

Midnight in Moscow is a new play from Dean Parker, one of his best. What gives it such force is his seamless interweaving of an intriguing plot and interesting personal stories with the politics of one of the great debates of the 20th century. The highlight of the play for me was the argument between Boris Pasternak and a New Zealand diplomat, which reminded me ever so much of a scene from a Ken Loach film, and I can’t pay a bigger compliment than that.” – Alan Scott The Press  

“Espionage has not figured too often as the raw material of New Zealand drama, but undeniably it furnishes some rich ingredients. The tensions of betrayal fuel Dean Parker’s new play all the way, as a fascinating contrast to the relaxed sociable world of the New Zealand Legation in post-war Moscow, 1947. The suspicion of a leaked file hovers in the background but it is betrayal on a personal level which really sets the pace. With its thoughtful undertones about delusion, life (“not a stroll through the fields,” writes Pasternak) and political theory, the play manages to freshen our acquaintance with the convoluted ways of diplomacy. This production gives us cause to ponder as well as smile. Bravo!” – Lindsay Clark Theatreview.

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