After Service

Centrepoint - Dark Room, Palmerston North

22/09/2006 - 23/09/2006

BATS Theatre, Wellington

12/02/2006 - 19/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

Written by Gavin McGibbon
Directed by Naomi Wallwork


The food was bad, you had to listen to The Carpenters and your friend is dead. Sounds like a good time to have a heart to heart and a drink with your mates, right? After Service: guilt is where you point it.

Rob Ringiao-Lloyd
Tania Nolan
Simon Vincent
Amy Tarleton

Theatre ,

50 mins

Black comedy launches new theatre venue

Review by Richard Mays 27th Sep 2006

Pam’s sausage rolls as harbingers of death are among the images to savour in this short confrontational comedy.

After Service successfully christened Centrepoint Theatre’s new 60-seat performance space last night. The newly appointed Dark Room, converted from the theatre’s backstage rehearsal area, scrubbed up nicely for a spot of late night black comedy.

With an underground atmosphere akin to Wellington’s Bats Theatre, the studio theatre kitted out with lighting and seating basics, was ideally suited to this small scale production.

Guilt is a great button to push. Following a funeral, the grief of Kelvin, a publisher and his live-in femino-vegan partner Sandra at the suicide of William, a young writer is disrupted by the intrusion of Victor. Uncompromising and in-your-face, Victor provokes uncomfortable disclosures from the pair about the nature of their relationship with the dead man. A "recreational maximiser" – euphemism for drug-dealer – he is the one who fed William’s habit.

As Victor, a free-wheeling Rob Ringiao-Lloyd has the lion’s share of the non-pc lines, and makes a perfectly spiky agent provocateur. There is a brittle vulnerability in the way Tania Nolan portrays Sandra, Victor’s principal target.

Deliberately understated, Simon Vincent’s Kelvin never seemed far from bursting point as he tries to make sense of his own feelings, keep the peace, and deal with the ensuing revelations.

Loaded with authentic passions, this dissection of relationships, motives and emotional manipulations makes for intensely entertaining theatre.


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Classy Kiwi theatre

Review by Lynn Freeman 01st Apr 2006

After Service is a snappy play with not one wasted word, a striking first play by Film School and IIML graduate Gavin McGibbon and intelligently directed by first time stage director Naomi Wallwork.

The cast is more experienced than most in the fringe and it shows in their performances. Robert Ringiao-Lloyd is unnerving as the savvy drug dealer, Victor, who locks horns with Amy Tarleton’s feisty vegetarian feminist, Sandra. Both are former friends of the late Will.

They are joined post Will’s funeral by another of his old mates who lets him down unforgivably, Kelvin. Simon Vincent’s customary understated performance helps us with the least convincing of the three characters.

The ending needs work but otherwise it’s 50 classy minutes of Kiwi theatre.


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Tension, tempers and guilt

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 31st Mar 2006

In a programme note to Gavin McGibbon’s After Service, currently playing at BATS, director Naomi Wallwork says that she was struck by the play’s "strong characters, snappy dialogue, underlying tension and sheer energy". The play is all that and more and coupled with highly competent acting, it makes for a piece of theatre that is engaging and compelling and raises the standard of Fringe Theatre productions up several notches.  

The emotional state of those mourning a friends death, especially when it appears to be an unexplained suicide, provides fertile ground for high drama and angst but McGibbon’s intelligent and often funny play avoids all this with its gritty realism and earthy dialogue. 

As Kelvin (Simon Vincent), Sandra (Amy Tarleton) and Victor (Rob Lloyd) assemble after the funeral of their friend William and chat about their memories of him it becomes obvious that there was more to their friendship than each realises and that each is inexplicably linked with Williams’s death.  And as the tension mounts and tempers flare, driven by that greatest emotion of all, guilt, their relationships and loyalties reach breaking point. 

With little action and lots of verbal gymnastics the play could become a static talkfest but Naomi Wallwork’s subtle and unencumbered production goes to the heart of the play with each of the three actors harnessing the plays raw energy with confidence and portraying the many layers of their characters with wonderfully controlled performances.

Vincent’s vulnerability as the new age guy Kelvin is heart achingly sincere while Tarleton as his head strong girlfriend Sandra is irritatingly unbending in the belief of her own infallibility. Both are pushed to the limit by Lloyd’s excellent provocateur Victor, who avoids facing his own guilt by taunting the others with theirs. 

This thought provoking yet entertaining  play is a must-see production this Festival.


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Highly wrought guilt trip

Review by John Smythe 30th Mar 2006

Like Theatre Militia’s Symposium (see below), Gavin McGibbon’s After Service dramatises a dialectic, but unlike the Symposium it proves song, dance and broad comedy are not necessary pre-requisites for entertainment.

Comprehensively crafted, After Service is a compelling naturalistic play with a strong emotional premise, questionable and shifting moral positions, secrets to be slowly revealed and jeopardy awaiting its readily recognised characters.

Drug-dependent yet-to-be-published writer Michael has committed suicide. It’s after his funeral service that the play brings three friends, or acquaintances, together to interrogate concepts of responsibility. All three have reasons to feel guilty, although one chooses not to.

Kelvin works for a publishing company and lives with Sandra whose guilt connects to a secret Victor knows about and may or may not reveal. As their dialogue unfolds the weight of guilt shifts, engaging the audience in constant re-evaluation.

As Kelvin and Sandra, Simon Vincent and Amy Tarleton negotiate the shifting sands with assurance, pitting normal levels of human frailty against the extraordinary amorality of Rob Lloyd’s Victor, delivered with a compelling, no-bullshit confidence.

But to fully engage with the moral issues, I need to know what sort of drugs are involved. There are different attitudes around cannabis, P, LSD and heroin and I don’t see why Kelvin and Sandra wouldn’t need to know exactly what Michael and Victor have been dealing with.

I also wonder if more might be made by Victor of the power he holds over Sandra, and what it would take for her to subvert it. There is much more to discover about the whys and wherefores behind her actions and Michael himself remains much more of a cipher than he could be …

Which is to say there is more to be explored in the idea yet. Overall it plays more like a well-wrought writing exercise than it should and I can’t help wondering if something might be gained from allowing other dimensions of the characters’ lives into the mix. To enter willingly into the make-believe, we need to feel the characters are pursuing their own and not the writer’s needs.


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