BATS Theatre, Wellington

06/03/2012 - 17/03/2012

Production Details

A man has corralled all his friends together to ask you a question. He wants to get back together. He wants to remind you of all the good times you had. How electric it was when you touched. How safe you felt. All he wants to do is tell you a story, the story of you and him and why you should give him a second chance.

Sometimes love is a never ending road trip through life with your best friend and sometimes it is having a cellmate who occasionally wears your clothes.

A Play About Love is the result of my accomplice’s organic devising style, where no one person has a greater say than the others. The greatest resource the company had was their own lives to create a fundamentally joyful work about co-existence and co-dependence. They have also been cataloguing their process and the work as it develops in a series of short films at www.youtube.com/myaccomplicetheatre .

This open and free process serves to create work that is no longer the artistic impulse of one or two people, but is an expression that exists between the audience and the actors. This is a show that will be different every night because people and life aren’t the same night to night.

“my accomplice stands out from the pack of youngWellingtontheatre companies for the originality and intelligence of its theatre. my accomplice has created some of the most striking productions over the last twelve months and the imagination of the core collaborators explodes out of the stage with fresh energy.” David O’Donnell, Director and Professor atVictoriaUniversity.

Starring:Hannah Banks(Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants), Kate Clarkin (Wakeless), Uther Dean (Everything is Surrounded by Water), William O’Neil (Slouching Towards Bethlehem), and Chapman Tripp Award winner Paul Waggott (Eight).

From my accomplice, the company that brought you the critically acclaimed DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE and think of all the fun you’ll find in the rubber room.

A Play About Love
6-17 March (No Sun/Mon), 8.00pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
BOOKINGS: 04 8024175 or book@bats.co.nz  
or www.bats.co.nz  
TICKETS: $18/13 

A little too clever?

Review by Lynn Freeman 19th Mar 2012

Love eh? It brings us agony and antagonism, conflict and compromise, but we always start off with such hope. All the above are examined in A Play About Love, a devised work from My Accomplice.

It’s all rather confusing, but then so are relationships. While we follow one couple from their meeting in a stationery shop through their ups and downs til the inevitable break up – and reconciliation? – different actors keep chopping and changing in the roles.

We aren’t helped by the females playing the female roles, too easy! It’s a series of vignettes plus the timeline is all over the show, it’s enough to give you a headache. Pay close attention to the prequel and sequel, they do bring it all together in a very charming and almost satisfying way. It’s all very clever, but perhaps just a little too clever for its own good. 


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Witty, charming and thoughtful

Review by Jarrod Baker 19th Mar 2012

Everyone involved in devising, writing, designing and performing (not to mention producing, stage-managing and teching) A Play About Love is on stage for the entire duration of the work. Cast and crew (although there’s not really a line between the two) mill about with the audience as they enter, greeting familiar faces with a nod or a wave and generally seeming pretty relaxed.

Not exactly your average opening night scenario then – which is fitting, really, because it isn’t exactly your average play. my accomplice theatre – Uther Dean, Hannah Banks and Paul Waggott – have made something of a habit of playfully challenging theatrical convention, and this attitude is fully on display in this, their latest devised work. [More


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Experience more than just pleasure

Review by Neal Barber 19th Mar 2012

I don’t want a new paragraph. I want to turn a full-stop into a comma.”

A Play about Love has at its heart one relationship between a girl who makes snow globes and a stationer who jots brief snippets – including text messages – on post-it notes. These activities are the characters’ ways of coping with the world’s madness; the globes and notes, in a very physical sense, distill and capture moments that document two journeys through life. Such codifications allow the characters to examine the detritus of their relationship and attempt a resolution. Yet the question remains: why would we want to rekindle a relationship typified by struggle to get the other person to declare their love?

Uther Dean began the production with a series of epigraphs: a quote from Joyce (“love loves to love love”), a rather sad thing to be told (“I love you more when we are far apart”), something William wrote when devising the play, and finally the opening monologue from Love Actually. And Dean’s delivery of the latter was impeccable with such a touching sweetness and the vaguest hint of menace. Even though the monologue is widely known, Dean avoided banality. In short: these epilogues succeeded in adding the desired “intellectual content” to the production whilst also setting the scene well for what was to follow. [More


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Images that linger

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 13th Mar 2012

Long after I have forgotten all about what happened in a play I will often retain a particular image from it; with A Play about Love it will be jam jars.

About thirty of them are neatly arranged across the Bats stage. We discover later these jars are home-made snow globes, each one celebrating a seemingly important event (e.g. a breakfast!) in a tricky relationship for a woman, who is the globe maker, and her boyfriend.

It’s often hard to tell what the relationship is between the two because, as everyone knows, love is never straightforward. However, it is made even more complicated than usual for the audience when we are given little idea of who the lovers are and consequently we have no sympathy for them and their tortuous uncertainties. We seem to be asked to be uninvolved scientists observing not one but a number (I think) of couples.

Devised works, even by a group as talented as My Accomplice (Hannah Banks, Kate Clarkin, Uther Dean, William O’Neil, Paul Waggott), can be fraught with problems: what’s funny in rehearsal (e.g. what’s a man to wear for a first date) may be unfunny in front of an audience; a constant awareness must be maintained of the aim of the play; and above all, drama school exercises actors use to release their truths remain only exercises.   


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Performance tail wags true-story dog

Review by John Smythe 07th Mar 2012

It may be valid for a play on this topic to be sometimes fascinating and sometimes frustrating. I want to love it – what’s not to love in a play about love? Unless it is corny or schmaltzy or dishonest. And this one is none of those things.

Beneath its meta-theatrical playing about, its ‘gonzo dramaturgy’, this is a prosaic little story about love sought, gained and lost. But of course when it happens to you it’s a big deal at the time and that should be the connection point with its audience.

Perhaps it is the retrospective knowing that “everything is going to be all right” (stated more than once during the show), that it is just one of those things and that he /she /we have in fact got over it that keeps the deconstructed ‘experience’ at arms length. For a play about a primary emotion I find it strange not to feel emotionally engaged. Because it is so objectively observed, the theatricality of the presentation becomes the more interesting aspect.    

Upturned jars, which turn out to be home-made ‘snow domes’ tracking moments of significance (to her, who made them) in the relationship(s), map out a grid on the stage.

The programme notes that the show “started as facts but ended up as fiction”.Hannah Banks, Kate Clarkin, Uther Dean, William O’Niel and Paul Waggott share the telling and playing out of the relationship(s). The narrative voice is the male’s and ‘he’ casts us as the partner, addressing her/us as “you” a number of times.

Dean introduces the topic with some quotes, including hers to him about what makes it easier for her to love him. Although they pause at times to explain who is being whom and when, I remain unclear as to how many relationships are being conveyed. There seems to be a Wellington/Auckland one that began through Facebook, and another that began in a stationery store where she worked.

Much of it plays out like a Facebook status and comments stream, posted somewhat enigmatically as if to attract those ‘in the know’ and make those who don’t feel excluded. Which I do. While I love theatre that raises questions and engages me in the quest for answers, I feel short-changed when a play reduces my task to working out the basic who, what, where and when of what’s happening, before I can contemplate why it does or how it feels for the characters involved. 

We see an awkward initial meeting, a paranoid drug experience, an absurdist evocation of the ‘what should I wear’ anxiety, a first date, a sped up run of a relationship’s progress and a rewind to re-examine, what happened at a party, the painful experience of watching others fall in love, a fight born of boredom, cogent advice being given (“She is not a rage sponge” puts an approving fizz through the audience) … But there is nothing cumulative about it.

The abstraction of what must, at the time, have been a profound human experience makes it seem like a relationship that never took root beyond just playing at the idea of being in love. So it’s no surprise it doesn’t last.

It’s hard to be clear on exactly what’s missing after one viewing. Turning points, perhaps, that compel us to admit we care? A sincere investigation into abiding mystery of this thing we call love? Ripping the scabs off some unavoidable truths?

I get the idea this group is fearful of getting fully to grips with a play about love for fear it will seem too clichéd, prosaic and ‘all been done before’. That’s why most love stories are supported or confronted by another plot line driven by a mutual or contrapuntal quest / objective / desire within which love flourishes and/or is threatened. Or the very specific details of a particular relationship are made so true as to defy any inclination we may have to write it off as just another colour-by-numbers sob story.   

Having taken on this topic, and presumably got down and dirty with it in the devising process, perhaps they have to trust us not to judge them harshly if they really do expose themselves. We are all fallible and all vulnerable, especially when it comes to love. And yes – as Dean observes – when it comes to the crunch love matters more than anything else. So how come this play doesn’t prove it?

As it is, the performance tail is wagging the true-story dog. Before I can love it I need to get to know it better than A Play About Love lets me. 


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