An Unseasonable Fall of Snow
10/05/2008 - 07/06/2008
"Do you like puzzles?"
Duality of the human psyche.
A bewildered young man is questioned by a ruthless interrogator, who circles like a predator, forcing him closer and closer to an awful admission.
Liam is guilty of something but as yet he doesn’t know what. Arthur is guilty too but that isn’t the question, the question is what has Liam done and why did he do it?
Regarded as one of New Zealand’s most prestigious playwrights Gary Henderson has penned successful plays such as "Sunset Café", "Skin Tight" and "Homeland".
"Gary Henderson’s Snow is that rarest of texts, a convoluted, philosophical thriller that works."
New Zealand Herald
A compelling investigation of truth, consequences, and the ultimate value of human life.
Adult $35, Student $12, Groups $30
Sat 10 May 08 – Sat 07 Jun 08
Centrepoint Theatre, Cnr Church and Pitt Streets, Palmerston North
Costume and Set Design by Robyn Yee
Lighting Design by Graham Slater
Whodunit? “You done it.”
Review by Peter Hawes 12th May 2008
[Take a deep breath, dear Reader, hang in there – and by the way, to avoid confusion, Danny Mulheron has had nothing to do with this production as far as I know; it was directed by Murray Lynch – ed.]
I once read this book by this writer called Durrenmatt or something, I think, who, I think was Swiss, I think, and wrote weird novels and plays that disappeared up their own basic fundament after some time of going round in circles that were never quite square and ended up where they started at the beginning and also the end and that had been lent to me by Danny Mulheron which I have never quite given back, for which I apologise now, and must confess that he’d also lent me the video of Brazil in the days when we had videos before DVDs and that I haven’t given back either, but certainly will, if ever I find it – which is unlikely, given that who the fuck watches videos anymore, except old-fashioned nutters like – well, not me, because I don’t know how to work them, but certainly Danny, because it’s not so much he’s old-fashioned as because he wants to come to grips with everything, especially sense in difficult plays and who probably saw An Unseasonable Fall of Snow as totally reasonable whilst the rest of us were un-comparing it with the latest Roger Hall, and describing Gary Henderson’s dramatic behaviours as unconscionable whilst grappling heartily with hellish concepts that take us deeply into the dark precepts of "what if there just isn’t a perfect ending to anything?" which is why Danny Mulheron had given me the book in the first place and had hoped I’d give him, first some sensible exposition of it, and second the book back – which, first I didn’t and second – well- secondly I still didn’t, and was written in enormous one-sentence paragraphs.
Which more or less encapsulates the environment of Snow except it’s done in sentences as clipt as Harold Pinter’s but with the silences squeezed up so the non sequiturs are gabbled rather than droned.
At which stage most reviewers of Snow cop out and sidle away from their responsibilities by saying things like: "It’s impossible to review this play without giving it away." Which I certainly have no intention of saying; I, courageously, will sidle out of my responsibilities by telling you that I am doing so simply because I bloodywell feel like it; so there.
Which still leaves much to say about the play. First, that it’s jolly hard work, because you’re not watching a play you’re sort of solving one – interpreting it, as if you’re reading Durrenmatt in his native Swiss (if there’s such a thing as a Swiss language). And you suddenly realise you’re having a damn fine time doing it. It’s a bit like Tom Sawyer getting paid by the other kids for painting the fence; Mr Henderson has put you to work and he’s getting paid for it.
And also you realise that all that bollox about this play being like Kafka, or Brecht or Kierkegard – you know, those ‘alienatory’ writers – is just so much existential, well, bollox, because you’ve never been as intimately associated with characters before. Because Liam, the one whodunit, knows no more than you do and finds things out at precisely the time you do. You’ll see what I mean when you go – just as you’re saying to yourself, "What is the big bloke’s name?" he tells you. You’re in it, it’s you up there on the stage. The last time I was in this theatrical position was back in about 1977 when a Carolyn Burns play starring Bruce Phillips as Judge, put someone on trial for living and it turns out to be you.
At the edges of this play are answers to how some particles of quantum matter can stand outside time and space and how the universe can create more universe as it travels through it; it could well be that the events of the play are happening as we watch, for the first time. And even if this is not the case (and I have found several flaws in my own argument already) it’s a pleasing sensation to even consider it could be so, so I came out of this play extremely content.
Especially pleasing is the brilliant performance of Phil Grieve as Arthur who didn’t dunit – not at first, anyway – because he’s in my own play which follows this one and that I won’t be able to advertise per medium of a glowing review because John Smythe probably won’t let me.
And Brad McCormick, who I’d not see before, is a beautiful Liam – who did dunit – being convincingly puzzled and bellicosely outraged at precisely the moments we are.
And Samuel Gordon as Tony, arriving on stage in the last minute of the play! What a hoot – not since Pablo the Mexican in Streetcar or Farquhar in Cold Turkey or me (I forget my chara’s name – but then I wasn’t on stage long enough to learn it) in The Underpants, has a dramatist had the cheek to devise so diminutive a role. Eeha!
The set, by clever young Robyn Yee is one of those that has you watching as you are watched by the watchers on the other side of the theatre. You all look up at the end, eyeball each other and say in chorus: "You done it."
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