6 Little Plays 4 Christchurch

BATS Theatre, Wellington

18/08/2011 - 20/08/2011

Production Details

Six new plays from some of New Zealand’s most exciting and risky young playwrights, directors and actors.

10 minutes each.

Three nights only – 2 shows on Saturday – with all proceeds to Christchurch.

An extravagant tasting plate of up and coming talent at the forefront of new New Zealand theatre.

Sheena and Jamie by THOMAS SAINSBURY,directed by ELEANOR BISHOP
Everything is Surrounded By Water by UTHER DEAN,directed by HANNAH BANKS
The Piano Man, Cat, Mrs Ribbon & Her Children by STELLA REID and THEO TAYLOR,presented by TELEMOTHERVISIONFATHER

Thursday 18th August Saturday 20th August 2011 (no show Sun/Mon)
Time: 6.30pm – extra show 8.30pm Saturday 20th August
Price: $18 Full / $13 Concession
Length: 1hr 20min
Book tickets!    

Bailey McCormack, Ailsa Krefft, Jack Sergent-Shadbolt, Jesse Tuke, Uther Dean, Izzy MacKinnon, Simon Haren, Clare Wilson, Brigid Costello, Nick Zwart, Theo Taylor, Joe Baxter, Cherie Le Quesne, Reyner Swartz and Jane Waddell

Jennifer O'Sullivan and Freya Desmarais
Designer: Penny Lawrence
Sound: Thomas Press and Emily Berryman
Lighting: Ben Williams  


Mixed bag for Christchurch

Review by Lynn Freeman 25th Aug 2011

These six short plays offer a remarkably mixed bag to the audience. Five months, the programme tells us, of wrangling and clearly hard work has gone into the fund raising show for the people of Christchurch. 

The order in which I saw them happened to be (almost) the order in which I most liked them. Uther Dean wrote and acted in Everything is Surrounded by Water, with Hannah Banks both directing and taking part on the night by barking commands at him from the auditorium. The monologue in which a lifetime is encapsulated in just a few minutes is riveting and moving – and disconcerting. 

Alex Lodge’s unnerving story Remains is lit solely and extremely effectively by torchlight alone under the direction of Ralph McCubbin-Howell. There is a post apocalyptic feel to the piece, and alongside the characters we feel trapped in an old dusty basement which has witnessed horrors.

Sheena and Jamie, Thomas Sainsbury’s contribution, was also ten minutes thoughtfully spent, with his story of an old woman who first seems creepy with her dusty biscuits and promises to sponsorship money for her young neighbour. Jane Waddell is a sheer delight as the old girl who ultimately is a lonely soul worthy of spending time with. 

So, these three were terrific. The other three plays were – not. They all suffered from scripts that lacked focus, and consequently interest, despite how much fun the casts were clearly having on stage. They just weren’t short enough to keep my interest.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Not a hard ask; a pleasure, in fact

Review by John Smythe 18th Aug 2011

A critic asked to review a show that’s been made to raise funds for a deserving cause is confronted with a moral dilemma: What if it’s awful /offensive /disgraceful /a waste of everyone’s time? Who am I hurting if I discourage people from going?

But, I reminded myself en route to Bats, I have always loved plays that oblige me to wrestle with moral dilemmas, so that’s a plus for a start. “Besides,” a critical colleague adds as we wait for the show to start, “Even if it’s terrible it won’t be as bad as what happened in Christchurch.” Good point.

As it turns out I am robbed of my moral dilemma. Each of the six very different playlets stakes its idiosyncratic claim for our attention and approval, and as a package it’s a very engaging 70-odd minutes. The generosity of all involved – on stage, backstage and in the audience – adds extra value to an already excellent production, brought together by Freya Desmarais for Hungry Mile Theatre.  

Everything is Surrounded By Water by Uther Dean, directed by Hannah Banks

25 plastic beakers of water dot the stage. Uther Dean, as actor, works his way through them at the dictatorial behest of his director, Hannah Banks. Warming up, or rather priming his pump, with a musing on how we receive the good things in life, he surges on into a counted-up countdown through four score years and six … to death. Gulp.

Remains by Alex Lodge, directed by Ralph McCubbin-Howell

Darkness, torchlight and powerful sound (by Richard Falkner) feature strongly as we try to make sense of a man (Nick Zwart) and two security guards (Brigid Costello and Clare Wilson) breaking into a “manky basement”. Is he their prisoner or are they protecting him? A half naked man (Simon Haren) either wants to join them or escape from them … His fate is enigmatic, Some kind of Armageddon is brewing outside. Who started it and where will it end? Dramatic.

Sheena and Jamie by Thomas Sainsbury, directed by Eleanor Bishop

A deceptively simple comic two-hander, this packs a surprising punch. An ageing woman who lives alone (Jane Waddell) is visited by young Jamie (Jesse Tuke) who lives in her street but doesn’t know her. He wants her to sponsor him for the 40 hour Famine; she wants him to eat her shortbread and sponge … Sure, she’s her own worst enemy but where, we have to ask ourselves, does true charity begin?

Work in Progress by Binge Culture Collective, directed by Joel Baxendale

With a fixed grin a young man (Simon Haren) paces the stage, eyeballs the audience, laughs, frowns, laughs again, interacts with … and touches us (not in a bad way). In the audience a young woman (Izzy McKinnon) offer commentary and analysis. We watch and experience laughter borne of fear. We touch ourselves (no, no like that) and deal with her suggestions as to what is happening within. And yes, it is … strangely touching.  

The Girls by Freya Desmarais, directed by Jean Sergent

The title seems odd when there is obviously a man in it as well as two ‘girls’ but it turns out he (Jack Sergeant-Shadbolt) is more than just a man. They are in a waiting room betwixt the portals of Heaven and Hell. Motor-mouth Isobel (Bailey McCormack) has topped herself while sardonic Jacqueline (Ailsa Kreft) met her accidental fate on the piste. And now they have to help him help humankind … Whimsical.

The Piano Man, Cat, Mrs Ribbon & Her Children by Stella Reid and Theo Taylor, presented by TeleMotherVisionFather

More abstraction closes the night. Totally compelling, it’s hard to put into appropriate words. When in doubt consider the title … Mrs Ribbon (Cherie LeQuesne), so named for the red ribbons that grace her wrists, appears crippled by arthritis. Helped to her rest by her anxious children (Joe Baxter and Clare Wilson), she dreamily summons her musical phantasms – the Piano Man (Reyner Swartz) and a trumpeter-cum-singer (Theo Taylor) who may really be her cat. Taylor excels as a singer in a most unusual style … carrying us into a gospel-like chorus that brings the whole cast on for the finale and their well-deserved curtain call.  

There is much to engage with and enjoy as each scenario unfolds, and lots to ponder in the aftermath. What more could we ask? Hungry Mile Theatre has come the distance for Christchurch; the least we can do is greet them at the finish line. Not a hard ask; a pleasure, in fact. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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