Creative Waikato, Vero House, 127 Alexandra Street, Hamilton

02/12/2018 - 05/12/2018

Hamilton Fringe 2018

Production Details

As colonist Mary Best describes the properties and plants she used to heal her neighbours and friends, she reveals a life of loss, love and hope.

Where: Creative Waikato
When: Sunday 2nd Dec, 4pm and
          Wednesday 5th Dec, 6.30pm
Price: $15

All Ages

Theatre ,

Sun & Wed only

Well-written and performed – except for the end

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 03rd Dec 2018

I am pleased to note, from the Managing Editor at Theatreview’s schedule, that the venue is the beautiful Creative Waikato building rather than as listed in the programme: to be performed at Victoria on The River The rain has been formidable so indoors is preferable, especially in light of predicted further precipitation. 

The other big change to note is from the “free entry” listing in programme to a door charge of $15. Be aware: you will need to take your wallet if you attend future performances.

The performance begins ten minutes late, which I always find annoying. Perhaps the Front of House are anticipating latecomers as a result of venue change?

Set in nineteenth century New Zealand, Mary Best welcomes us to Dr Beale’s public lecture on medicinal herbs. Mary works for Dr Beale and his wife; she collects the herbs. Mary’s father was a doctor and she learned much of her vast knowledge of medicinal herbs from him. This was back in England, we learn, as Mary moves around her small audience dispensing her fresh herbs for us to touch and smell. Mary emigrated to New Zealand with her husband, arriving in Port Chalmers (Dunedin) after six challenging months at sea.

I learn as much about herbs as I do about Mary – she has a stunning array of fresh specimens, each of which seems to trigger another memory – so we are swept off in one reminiscence after another. There is some wonderful intertwining of local references within the script – Seacliff Asylum and Plunket founder Dr Truby King’s remarkable work there, which has a great connection to Mary Best’s work as a midwife, and with new mothers in the small South Island town of Lawrence.

The script is well-written and performed adeptly. The simple use of plants as props entirely fits and Mary is well played (I cannot say by whom as there is no programme, the front-of-house person has left by the end and there are no credits online).

The only big surprise moment for me is the ending which, to me, feels wrong for the piece; like it is the easy-out ending – quite diminishing in its current state. I definitely see the benefit of the playwright (also uncredited) doing some harder work on finding the natural end which will empower what is potentially a very strong piece of theatre.  


Editor December 6th, 2018

We are now informed the writer performer of A Revealing Thyme is Joanna Bishop. 

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