Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

07/02/2014 - 16/02/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

Over the last few years we made plays about love and space – people seemed to like them and we won a few awards. Obviously, fear was the next logical step. We think you’ll really like this one.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the theatre… The third and final instalment from the trilogy is creeping into Circa Two!

Charlie and Lucy just want a quiet night in watching scary movies. But before long one is missing and the other has no choice but to search through a deep dark night for their friend. Along the way they’ll encounter monsters, cults and killers. Seems like they’re stuck inside them instead and from where they’re standing it looks like there’s no way out.

Fringe Festival award winners and Chapman Tripp nominees, my accomplice are back and taking on the horror and thriller genre in their trademark lo-fi high energy style.

A Play About Fear promises cheap tickets at $18/$14, big laughs and evil from the dawn of time!

7th – 16th of February at 7.30pm (4.30pm on Sundays, no show Monday)
Duration: 60 mins
Venue: Circa Two in Circa Theatre 
Tickets: $18|$14 
Bookings: http://www.circa.co.nz/site/Shows/A-Play-About-Fear | 04 801 7992

The company is:
Hannah Banks (producer/performer/deviser)
Kate Clarkin (performer/deviser)
Uther Dean (deviser)
Alex Greig (performer/deviser)
Sam Hallahan (performer/deviser)
Bronagh Mc Feely (stage-manager/deviser)
Paul Waggott (performer/deviser)

Lighting technician and general mechanist: Rowan McShane 
Graphic design: Hadley Donaldson

Theatre ,

Fear faced with eyes wide open

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Feb 2014

A Play about Fear’s programme warns us that it “runs for 65 minutes without an interval and contains offensive language, bloody violence, sudden loud noises and bad smells”.

There’s no interval and it does last for 65 minutes almost to the second, but the offensive language is remarkably tame in comparison with most contemporary plays, and there are neither sudden noises nor bad smells.

However, there is a bucket of reddish liquid (strawberry jam and chocolate?) and one long violent scene but as the play is mostly a comic exploration of fear I didn’t close my eyes as I do during King Lear.

We are introduced to the show’s larkish but effective approach to its subject with a revue sketch called Freak Accidents which tells us about the nightmarish accidents we all sometimes privately imagine. The play then hops about all over the place (darkness, anarchy, strangers, monsters, loneliness, claustrophobia, moral dilemmas)  but eventually it focuses on two young women, Lucy and Charlotte, who one dark night order a pizza while watching a movie.

Then Lucy disappears. Charlotte goes looking for her and ends up in an abandoned building in Courtenay Place which is the home of a sinister, brutish cult. It’s all Hammer Horror but somehow, despite the gore and the absurdity, Charlotte’s fears touch us. We learn in the final moments what it means to be shown fear “in a handful of dust.”

All this is told against a backdrop of a wrinkled blue plastic tarpaulin and lit by the actors who hold light bulbs which occasionally and alarmingly fly out of their hands. A central prop, which is used in a number of imaginative ways, is a large inflatable paddling pool.

Alex Greig plays the cult leader with his shtick of energetic vocal power but the echo effect during his big speech becomes tedious.  Hannah Banks, Sam Hallahan, Kate Clarkin, Paul Waggott are the rest of the cast who also devised the proceedings which was scripted and directed by Uther Dean with the vigorous theatrical style and imagination he did for the company’s A Play about Space last year.


Make a comment

A vital essence of humanity offsets the grotesque comedy

Review by John Smythe 08th Feb 2014

Circa Theatre is to be applauded for bringing proven practitioners like the ‘my accomplice’ company in from the Bats Theatre fold to the mutual benefit of all. Such initiatives will bring new audiences to Circa while those who routinely go to Circa will be exposed to fresh new forms of theatre making.*

Hannah Banks, Uther Dean and Paul Waggott are the nucleus of ‘my accomplice’. A Play About Fear – devised by the company then written and directed by Dean, who also has the designer credit – follows A Play About Love (2012) and A Play About Space(2013).

Either I have become more attuned to their ‘gonzo dramaturgy’ style – where their ‘poor theatre’ theatrical conventions present as an idiosyncratic narrative-driving character in itself – or they have found a better balance between style and content. Or maybe this seems stronger because rather than just play with its pop-culture referenced theme, it dynamically explores and proves the proposition that what we should fear most is fear itself. It’s a play with a purpose beyond simply playing.

The Circa Two stage, including its walls, is clad in blue plastic and, as in the previous plays, lights handled by actors are a feature. This time they are single bulbs hanging on leads attached to hidden pulleys, which makes for some dramatic retractions (operated by lighting technician and general mechanist Rowan McShane). The only furnishing is a blue inflatable paddling pool, creatively employed throughout.

Hannah Banks and Paul Waggott are joined on stage by Kate Clarkin, Alex Greig, Sam Hallahan and stage manager Bronagh McFeely. Uniformly clad in yellow polo shirts and black trousers, and hanging about on stage before the show starts, it’s tempting to think they’ve got lost on the way to the Sevens and haven’t tried too hard with their costumes. But by the end, if they were out in the nearby FanZone, the way they look could court the attentions of paramedics, not to mention the police.

For all their relaxed and deceptively casual demeanour, the ensemble is fully focused on their dramatic purpose and play it all out in well-paced and seamlessly choreographed action. Their opening inventory of supposed “Freak Accidents”, ‘sold’ to us in a seductive promotional style, sets the dark humour tone.

A story told and shown about survivors of a shipboard fire and sinking seems off-theme when the fear dimensions – of fire, water, death, etc – are not explored but this does earn its keep as a set-up for a later pay-off regarding moral integrity.

A series of ingeniously crafted sequences variously explores fear of the dark, small spaces, monsters, strangers knocking at the door, missing out, silence, being alone … And something unknown and creepy keeps reappearing as a squealing foetal shape encased in a translucent cocoon.

Most memorable is the bizarre fight Greig and Waggott stage between a Gozilla-like creature and something that’s not as ’armless as he looks. You have to be there …

It’s a practical joke between flatmates – Lucy (Clarkin) and Charlotte (Banks) – involving a pizza delivery (Greig) while they watch a spooky DVD that takes us into the more substantive drama. Lucy is drawn to The William People, a dodgy cult that preys on people’s fear-based vulnerabilities. They occupy an abandoned building in Courtenay Place “above The Tasting Room”.

The ‘echo’ gag that is poignantly funny for those who get the Downstage reference outstays its welcome by a long way and needs to be curtailed much sooner.

The People who follow William, who is “evil from the dawn of time”, are eager to speed his return to judge them and the means they employ are scarily credible beneath the physically and psychologically grotesque comedy. Thus fear of blood, anarchy and a slow and painful death come into play …

As the would-be rescuer and the friend who may or may not want to be saved, Hannah Banks and Kate Clarkin keep us connected to a vital essence of humanity. It’s our empathy with their susceptibility and fallibility that winds up the suspense as Waggott, Greig and Hallahan manifest the warped cult in all its gory glory.

And when William does arrive … Well you’ll have to see it to find out. Fear not: A Play About Fear may raise your awareness of how much fear rules our lives but it will not hurt you.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*This may seem an odd thing to say but in my observation a very small proportion of Wellington theatre-goers regularly go to both Bats and Circa. And a post-show chat with some Circa stalwarts revealed they had not seen the previous A Play About … works (despite A Play About Space having two seasons last year) and this form of play-making was brand new to them. In business terms it’s a profit-share arrangement so the risk is also shared.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council