ANZAC EVE

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

21/03/2017 - 25/03/2017

Playhouse, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

28/03/2017 - 29/03/2017

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

31/03/2017 - 05/04/2017

Bay of Islands Yacht Club, Waitangi, Bay of Islands

07/04/2017 - 07/04/2017

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

10/04/2017 - 11/04/2017

Scottish Hall, 112 Esk Street, Invercargill

28/04/2017 - 29/04/2017

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

23/08/2017 - 24/08/2017

Taranaki Arts Festival 2017

Southland Festival of the Arts 2017

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

Production Details


Written by Dave Armstrong
Directed by Jamie McCaskill

Armstrong Creative Ltd
Touring nationwide with Tour-Makers


Two Kiwi guys meet two Aussie girls… the rest is history.

Dave Armstrong’s Anzac Eve begins a seven-week national tour with a strictly limited five night season at BATS Theatre, Wellington from March 21 – 25.

Anzac Eve is an exciting new play about a disparate group of twentysomethings on their big OE, who happen upon each other the night before dawn commemorations at Gallipoli.

As Ben and Phil from Dunedin meet Lizzie (a ‘Mozzie’) and Maia from the Gold Coast, national pride and personal issues stir up strong feelings as tempers flare, romance sparks and ghosts are uncovered. Each young Anzac sees historical events through their own eyes.

Are they really there to solemnly commemorate the occasion or just looking for a boozy party and possible hook-up? Do these characters really know their history or are they simply buying into convenient Anzac myths? Have we really learnt from Gallipoli or are we still making the same mistakes 100 years later?

Anzac Eve is the latest play from award-winning writer Dave Armstrong whose previous works include Niu Sila, King and Country, The Motor Camp, and Le Sud. “I have observed the incredible interest that New Zealanders have in the commemoration of World War I,” says Dave, who worked on Te Papa’s blockbuster Gallipoli exhibition and the Gallipoli section of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s Nga Tapuwae app. ‘But at the same time I wonder if we too easily buy into convenient myths about Gallipoli and the Anzac spirit. Anzac Eve, as well as being a drama about four young people looking for a good time, attempts to encourage its audience to separate myth from reality.’

“Every battle is Chunuk Bair; every war is the First World War”

“Just four terrific young actors, a great script and a director with a keen sense of rhythm and timing.” Theatreview

Directed by Jamie McCaskill (Not in Our Neighbourhood, The Biggest), and featuring Hayden Frost (The Almighty Johnsons, Richard II, Public Service Announcements), Ruby Hansen (Second Afterlife – Circa Theatre), Barnaby Olson (No Post on Sunday, Grimm Fairytales – Circa Theatre, An Awfully Big Adventure), and Trae Te Wiki (The Trickle Down Effect, Last Meals), Anzac Eve is highly entertaining and takes an honest and unflinching look at the Anzac experience. This fresh and contemporary take on a significant time in our nation’s history is a must-see.

“First class entertainment. A strong exploration of unsavoury fact versus popular fiction, and also allows Armstrong to feature favourite subjects that people prefer to avoid such as race, sexuality, religion, depression and suicide.” Otago Daily Times

Touring Nationwide with Tour-Makers from March 28 – May 6 2017

For full tour information visit www.tourmakers.co.nz

BATS Theatre The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Tuesday 21 March – Saturday 25 March 2017
6.30pm
Tickets: Full Price $22
Concession Price $16
Group 6+ $15
Booking or call 04 802 4175

This play was commissioned by the Festival of Colour and funded by NZ WW1 Centenary Fund

Hamilton
Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
Tuesday, 28th March – 29th March 2017: 7:30pm
Booking

Auckland
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre
Friday, 31st March – 11:00am &  7:00pm
Saturday, 1st April – 7:00pm
Monday, 3rd April – Wednesday, 5th April: 11:00am & 7:00pm
Booking

Paihia (as part of UPSURGE Festival)
Bay of Islands Yacht Club, Waitangi
Friday, 7th April – 8:00pm
Booking

Tauranga
Baycourt X Space
Monday, 10th April & Tuesday, 11th April – 7:00pm
Booking

Ashburton
Ashburton Trust Event Centre
Friday, 21st April – 7:30pm
Booking

Oamaru
Opera House (The Inkbox)
Monday, 24th April – 7:30pm
Booking

Dunedin
Allen Hall Theatre, Otago University
Thursday, 27th April – 7:00pm
Booking 

Southland Festival of the Arts 2017

Fri 28 – Sat 29 April 7:00pm Scottish Hall, Invercargill
Mon 1 May 7:30pm Tokanui Hall, Tokanui $20/$5
Tue 2 May 7:30pm Northern Southland College, Lumsden
Wed 3 May 7:30pm Waikaia Community Centre
Thu 4 May 7:30pm Central Southland College, Winton
Fri 5 May 7:30pm Fiordland College, Te Anau
Sat 6 May 7:30pm Aparima College, Riverton

$20/$5
Door sales at all venues
Dur: 1h Contains a small amount of coarse language.
Age Recommendation 13+
Proudly supported by the Southland District Council 

TARANAKI ARTS FESTIVAL 2017

“It is a rare play which can cram in so much in so short a time, but an even rarer one which can do it with such vibrancy, flair and humour.” Alan Scott – Theatreview

“A triumph of script, performance, direction and design. I loved it and didn’t want it to end.” Gail Pittaway – Theatreview

To the point: Modern tale of Gallipoli/ heartfelt but humorous/ rite of passage/ playful and poignant/ unflinchingly honest.

THE DETAILS
* Wed, Aug 23, 8.30pm, Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
* Thurs, Aug 24, 6pm, Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
* Fri, Aug 25, 7pm, Everybody’s Theatre, Opunake
* Sat, Aug 26, 7pm, Kings Theatre, Stratford

BOOK NOW


CAST
Ben:  Barnaby Olson
Phil:  Hayden Frost
Maia:  Ruby Hansen
Lizzie:  Trae Te Wiki


CREW
Floor Design:  Sean Coyle
Floor Painting:  Rachel Hilliar
Lighting Design/Operator: Bonnie Judkins 


Theatre ,


1 hr

Neither laughed nor cried

Review by Liz Deacle 25th Aug 2017

Anzac Eve promised a controversial, modern take on the story of Gallipoli. 

We are introduced quickly to the four characters: Maia (Ruby Hansen) and Lizzy (Trae Te Wiki) who are long-time friends from Australia; Ben (Barnaby Olson), a History graduate, and Phil (Hayden Frost) from New Zealand. They take us through a series of conversations, treating us to their individual beliefs and opinions as to what happened at Gallipoli and the repercussions of such on today’s society.

When faced with such a minimalist set – a plain backdrop and a camouflage ground sheet – I become excited.  I am either expecting the writing and the actors to be so utterly confident in what they are about to perform that they rely not on sets, or I anticipate that I will be treated to some hidden surprises in the way of clever costume, props or lighting. I am afraid the answer is neither of these things. 

We are expected to believe that the characters are on a beach in Turkey suffering from crowds, flies, heat and the general exhaustion of backpacking around Europe, Yet we see them all enter the stage looking as though they’ve just stepped out of the makeup studio.  My eyes are drawn immediately to the brand new rucksacks the characters carry and I try to ignore the glaringly obvious fact that they are indeed empty, despite the actors’ best efforts to make them seem like a ton weight. Surely, the addition of a few tee shirts and shorts to stuff the packs out, perhaps a hat or a pair of sneakers hanging from the back of the pack wouldn’t be too much to ask?.  I feel a little cheated, and the play is only five minutes along. The gentleman in the row next to mine loudly points out “They haven’t been far with those back packs.” Not a good start.

There is a suggestion early on in the play that Ben is gay. I am waiting for this story to unfold as it promises a secretive twist. To my disappointment, it never materialises. There is a further reference to homosexuality mentioned later in the play, but the suggestion of Ben’s sexuality gets brushed aside. It is almost as though the writer couldn’t be bothered to carry on with that story line.

The announcement from Lizzy that “this place is packed like Sardines” leaves me somewhat confused as to why then the four actors spend the entirety of the performance lounging around, their legs and arms looking as though they have plenty of room to spread out, resembling nothing like sardines.

As the four characters unravel their personalities, I am starting to become bored. The fact that all four are all sitting in a line, and stay that way for 85% of the play, doesn’t help the situation. I see no hustle or bustle of a packed beach party on Anzac Eve. No bumping into the person who is apparently crammed so close they could be sitting on their lap. No pulling the blanket out of the way as other people clamber over them to get to the toilet block. Nothing. I am looking for anything that I can take an interest in, but I don’t see anything. When one character is talking, the others remain pretty motionless apart from the odd raised eyebrow from the girls or a fling of the arms form Phil.

The topics covered within the play are valid but predictable. I am starting to become bored once more by the repetitive avenue the characters insist on taking. The sing song delivery of Barnaby Olsen’s dialogue is beginning to annoy me, and I am desperate for him to show a different tone to his voice.

The two couples end by having an argument, Lizzy and Phil storm off – which at least gives the audience a treat to a difference in visual levels. When they return, Ben and Mary have gone to a restaurant (not before lifting up their empty backpacks and carrying them across the stage).

Before leaving, Maia gives a convincing monologue that reveals the true story of her brother’s death. I realise that I am enjoying Ruby Hansen’s performance because she is standing up and at last delivering out to the audience. Her voice is interesting and easy to the ear. The all-in-one sleep suit she dressed in earlier is now visible and is a poignant reminder that she is simply a young girl trying to come to terms with adult issues.

Perhaps it is because I am quite far back in the theatre that a play performed entirely on the floor isn’t working for me. As I leave the building, I feel somewhat cheated. I had been excited at the thought of this play, by the promise that, as one reviewer had gushed: “Audiences will laugh and cry at Dave Armstrong’s modern take on the Gallipoli story”. I am sorry, but I’ve done neither.

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Funny, serious, informative, warming

Review by Hannah Kennedy 30th Apr 2017

Full disclosure: I’m a Brit (Pom?), married to a Kiwi and I’ve been living here for several years now. I am the first to admit there are definitely chunks of Kiwi and Aussie culture that I just don’t get.  It is with a certain sense of not knowing what to expect, then, that I go to see ANZAC Eve, a play which promises to take “an honest and unflinching look at the ANZAC experience”.

I mean, I know the basics. I’ve been to ‘Gallipoli: the scale of our war’ at Te Papa and the ‘Great War’ exhibition at the Dominion Museum Building (Pukeahu National War Memorial Park) in Wellington. I know that the NZ/Aus relationship is… special. I know that how you throw a ball in cricket is important, as is the provenance of Pavlova. But just how does that ‘special’ bond work, exactly? And what, really, is just so special about Gallipoli?

ANZAC Eve follows two young Kiwi blokes who meet two young Aussie girls on their OE. Chatting, illicit drinks and banter turn into a far more serious conversation about what it means to be an ANZAC. The play doesn’t shy away from some difficult and even controversial topics: racism, immigration, refugees, stereotypes, all are explored. It’s uncomfortable and confronting at times, but very real, with the various characters well developed by this talented younger cast: Hayden Frost, Ruby Hansen, Barnaby Olson and Trae Te Wiki.

The play also takes a good hard look at ANZAC Day itself, and challenges all of the standard responses about why it matters. Is it more than just facts and figures (of which we are fed plenty throughout the play)? Was it the birthplace of a nation? Is it something to be proud of, to be mourned? How does this affect the way we see modern warfare? Have we been sold a lie? Are our soldiers today fighting for something important?

Ultimately these relatable young people remind us of some deeper truths, and really strip away the pomp and circumstance. Directed by Jamie McCaskill, the simple staging and limited stage movement helps the audience stay focussed on the relationships unfolding in front of them. The anecdotes and personal touches really help to bring the points home, and it’s touching without descending into cheesiness.

At turns funny, serious, informative and warming, this play delights. The audience regularly laughs out loud and I will even admit to some tears in my eyes by the end, British stiff upper lip notwithstanding.
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Vibrancy, flair and humour carry weighty themes

Review by Alan Scott 08th Apr 2017

Anzac Eve is a play which is short in duration but long in argument. Its sixty minutes playing time is dialogue-heavy and chock-full of intense debate and disputation, as two Australian women and two Kiwi fellows, all in their twenties, face off against each other as they wait through the night for the dawn service at Gallipoli.

Its central theme concerns the different meanings and values we attach to the commemoration services at ANZAC Cove and our attitudes to war and the sacrifices that soldiers made.

There are other themes, too, that weave their way through the piece. These involve issues and attitudes about racism, immigration and how New Zealanders see themselves and their place in the world.

It is a rare play which can cram in so much in so short a time, but an even rarer one which can do it with such vibrancy, flair and humour as Anzac Eve does. The sixty minutes are soon over, for the argumentation does not drag; on the contrary, it fairly skips along, sometimes at breakneck speed.

Dave Armstrong certainly knows how to write. The play might be heavy with dialogue and even heavier with philosophising, but it is in no way wordy or clunky. The language is natural and the sentences flow. Interchanges between characters are immensely realistic and down-to-earth, even while they convey weighty and/or controversial thoughts and ideas.

Of course, the man who wrote Le Sud and Kings of the Gym knows how to inject banter, humour and comedy into a piece and so Anzac Eve has the audience chuckling away throughout the hour.

Actors Ruby Hansen and Trae Te Wiki, as the Aussies, and Hayden Frost and Barnaby Olsen, as the Kiwis, really do the business here. Without plot or action to aid them, they convey all the author’s intentions clearly and forthrightly. The play runs fast and furiously at times yet they retain a wonderful fluency throughout, handling the dialogue with an enviable ease and making every thought come alive. Jamie McCaskill’s direction here is so sharp in aiding them to do this. 

While Armstrong clearly wants to present an alternative account of Gallipoli or war itself, there is nothing much fresh in what he says. From the future government ministers of the Labour Party who went to jail for opposing what they saw as a capitalist or imperialist war, to the protesters of the sixties and seventies who interrupted memorial parades, to recent historians with their revisionist accounts, there is a long continuum of telling a different tale about Gallipoli.

Nonetheless, with the increasing interest every year in the commemoration service and all the ideas and values that surround it, his play has a validity which cannot be denied.

The ending, though, for me, is just too pat. It was hard to see how opposing couples could make peace so easily with each other, when their emotions run so high and their values are so different. There seems to be neither plot nor sufficient dialogue to carry the story to that conclusion. 

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John Smythe April 8th, 2017

Given two reviewers have now questioned the credibility of the ending (Alan, above, and also Ethan Sills of the NZ Herald), I find myself wondering why I have no problem with it; with characters pairing off as they do, not for life but as dawn is about to break on ANZAC Day.

First, opposites attract. Second, we often argue a position loudly that we feel insecure about, either to convince ourselves or have our argument challenged – or both. Thirdly, and most importantly, people listen to each other in this play, face what they’re in denial about and shift their positions accordingly (not least because they’re in their twenties and still working stuff out) – and that in itself is attractive.

Then there’s the question of how this works on an allegorical level. Could this be how peace might be achieved (assuming the arguments advanced as the reasons for war are not contaminated by hidden political agendas and the profit-seeking motives of the military industrial complex)? Or is it that humans actually prefer the frisson of ongoing conflict to the placidity of peace? Either way, it works for me because there is plenty to keep pondering beyond the end of ANZAC Eve

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Battle lines drawn again at Gallipoli

Review by Ethan Sills 04th Apr 2017

War is always a divisive topic. Whether the battle is historical or modern, people will always have different views on the point of it all. Recent events in particular will likely cast a shadow over upcoming Anzac Day celebrations, making Dave Armstrong’s play even more topical.

Anzac Eve follows two Kiwi men and two Aussie women who are squashed together as they wait for memorial celebrations at Gallipoli to begin. It quickly becomes clear they all have different takes on not only war but also immigration and academia, leading to a tense wait.

Initially, all four characters come across as archetypes: nerdy goof, reclusive liberal, ditzy Australians. Thankfully, once their introductions are out of the way, the four begin a rapid fire exchange of political views and historical facts in a rollercoaster exchange that rarely lets up. [More]

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A great humanitarian embracing

Review by Alistair Browning 01st Apr 2017

Anzac Eve is Dave Armstrong’s contribution to the centenary of the 1915 landing at Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Peninsula of thousands of troops from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Ireland, France, India, and Newfoundland in an attempt to take the land from German allies, Turkey.  By the end of the failed eight-month campaign, 130,000 men had died, including 2,779 New Zealanders. This is commemorated every April 25, when many Australian and New Zealand pilgrims spend the night on the beach at Anzac Cove before the Dawn Ceremony. 

We meet four 20-somethings among the crowds on the beach, waiting for sunrise. First Ben (Barnaby Olsen), a seasoned world traveller who has an MA in History with a thesis specifically on Gallipoli; then Phil (Hayden Frost) who’s in IT and is very good with numbers and anecdotes, especially when he’s trying to impress “the ladies”. They get to know each other with the usual banter and oneupmanship and we discover that, while confident Phil has all the ‘facts’, cynical Ben knows much more about the campaign.  

When two attractive women arrive looking for a space on the beach, Phil is only too ready to make room for them. Maia (Ruby Hansen) is an Australian of Italian heritage, conservative and patriotic. Lizzie is an Australian of Maori parentage, more liberal but loyal to her friend and her whakapapa. 

The four share a drink, shed their inhibitions, and talk about what Anzac means to them and why they are here.  There is little action, but the dialogue is swift, naturalistic, and passionate; and the array and depth of the subject matter is impressive.

There are jokes but also moments of powerful emotion amid a wide ranging discussion about love and sex, humour, family, patriotism, national identity, nationalism, military intervention, racism, sexism, the effects of war, as well as timely references to Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This is a great humanitarian embracing of a new-generation view of old wars and new campaigns, and the things that really matter.  The play is short, simple in structure, leavened with humour and insight, and superbly presented by the cast and director Jamie McCaskill. Sean Coyle’s set, too, is simple: a camo ground tarp doubling as a topograhical map with effective lighting design by Bonnie Judkins, who also operates and manages the tour.  

The play was originally commisioned by the Festival of Colour and is produced and toured by Caroline Armstrong, Armstrong Creative and Tour Makers.

At The Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, until April 4 then the tour continues [click title above for details].  

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A triumph of script, performance, direction and design

Review by Gail Pittaway 29th Mar 2017

With a timely tour around New Zealand on the eve of ANZAC commemorations nation-wide, this provocative yet funny play examines the impulse of young Kiwi and Aussie backpackers to make their way to ANZAC Cove on the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Peninsular of Turkey each April 25th, in time for the Dawn Ceremony.

Playwright Dave Armstrong has cleverly used this modern cliché of the ANZAC legend to examine and critique those other clichés – the ‘birth of our two nations’, the ‘sacrifice of youth’, ‘ANZAC spirit’ – and has also tucked in a few more for a good jab, at Kiwi ingenuity, sporting prowess, racial stereotypes.  All are framed very snappily in a situation of trans-Tasman rivalry in the constrained space on the flat under the hills of Chunuk Bair, as growing crowds of other ANZAC devotees surround the four travellers. 

The characters who avidly debate their situation are a mismatched quartet of two Kiwi blokes, Phil and Ben, joined by two young Aussie women, Maia and Lizzie. The two females are friends from Brisbane, the males meet by accident and then, as can only happen to Kiwis abroad, realise they went to school together – at intermediate in Dunedin. All four give totally convincing and powerful performances, so credible that we too feel we went to intermediate with them; each so articulate that we wish we had.  

Extrovert Phil, played by Hayden Frost, interrupts Ben who is trying to read his Lonely Planet guide book and avoid the antipodean masses. Phil is an autodidact – a know-all of numbers and figures, now in IT − while Ben has a Masters in History and has been a volunteer teacher in Cambodia, so comedy ensues from their very diverging views on the world and their situation.

Barnaby Olsen’s Ben gives an impassioned view of the historic events: a tragedy, a failure, all down to poor communication and too much rum. He interjects corrections into the vague impressions that the others have accepted as national myths. However, Armstrong’s script, and director Jamie McCaskill, don’t allow Ben to grandstand for too long − the others call him out on points of detail, on his own motives for being there when theirs, though simple, less well-informed, also have validity.

Maia, played with exquisite restraint by Ruby Hansen, and Lizzie, an exuberant and fiery Trae Te Wiki, provide further layers of viewpoint, energy and conflict into this tight scenario as Australians and women; one more conservative (Maia), the other a second generation Māori Australian, Lizzie: a Mozzie from Brizzie.

With rapid argument and silent impasses, the dialogue generates discomfort, humour and sentiment, all at once, as each character confronts different ideas. The audience is bombarded with this range of opinions, emotions and wit, all in one short hour: a triumph of script, performance, direction and design. I loved it and didn’t want it to end.

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Incisive writing, able actors lift ANZAC tale

Review by Ewen Coleman 24th Mar 2017

As another ANZAC day approaches, another perspective of the atrocities that occurred at Gallipoli and Chunuk Bair are aired, this time through the eyes of four young people, in Dave Armstrong’s intriguing new play Anzac Eve.

As the title denotes, it takes place on the eve of the dawn commemorations at Gallipoli where hundreds of people gather to be ready for the early morning ANZAC services. [More

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A profoundly insightful enriching experience

Review by John Smythe 22nd Mar 2017

“Afghanistan is exactly like Gallipoli!” shouts Ben, well into the action of Anzac Eve. “All the wars are like Gallipoli!” Opening in Wellington within hours of the launch of Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the meaning of honour, by Nicky Hagar and Jon Stephenson, this moment has particular resonance. Then and now, front line soldiers have little true understanding of who they are fighting and why, things inevitably go wrong, lives are needlessly lost … Warfare will never be the answer to the problems it sets out to solve.

Full disclosure: my mother’s father was killed at Ypres; his brother died at Anzac Cove; their older brother was gassed and a fourth brother returned physically intact but at the effect of who knows what unacknowledged traumas. Each Anzac Day provokes in me a deep-set anger at the shocking propaganda-fuelled waste of young lives and the psycho-social effects on the survivors and their families – and the obscene inhumanity continues, only to be comprehended because it fills the coffers of the Military-Industrial Complex and its shareholders. 

Not that Anzac Eve confines itself to that viewpoint only. Whatever your family history is and wherever you stand on the politics of wars past and contemporary, there will be opinions and attitudes expressed that you will agree, disagree and wrestle with. This is part of the brilliance of Dave Armstrong’s script, superbly brought to life by four skilled actors directed by Jamie McCaskill. 

By distilling the action to the dynamics of a chance encounter between two Kiwi twenty-something blokes and two young Aussie women, at ANZAC Cove – on what I assume is 24 April 2015, when thousands have made the pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli – Armstrong infuses the play with multiple dramatic drivers that neatly interweave disparate threads of human interaction. all relating to the coexistence of diverse specimens of humanity.

Ben (Barnaby Olsen), whose 300-page MA in History thesis was about the doomed Gallipoli conflict, is a seasoned counter-culture traveller who has been a volunteer teacher in Cambodia. Clearly a pacifist, he is sick of the oft-repeated myths surrounding Gallipoli and is quick to counter them with better-researched information, if anyone is prepared to listen.

Myths surround Phil (Hayden Frost) too, and the truth surfaces eventually. What is behind his try-hard manner and obsession with statistics also emerges. It’s another strength of the play that poignancy and pathos transcend the urge to judge this character harshly and laugh at him.

Following an initial battle-for-the-facts between the posturing boys, much fun with Aussie v Kiwi accents accompanies the arrival of Maia (Ruby Hansen) and Lizzie (Trae Te Wiki), who are quickly invited to squeeze into their spot by Phil. Perfectly captured, the powerful yet subtle dynamics of this close-quarters encounter brings an immediacy to the drama and inevitable comedy, as the conversation about where they are and why continues. They all have ancestral connections to the Gallipoli conflict  

Maia presents as a determined adherent of the ‘our brave boys fighting for democracy’ party line which – along with her attitude to immigrants to Australia – quickly brings her into conflict with Ben. And it turns out there is much more to be understood about her and her family story.

Lizzie the Mozzie (Māori Australian) navigates the slings and arrows with entertaining alacrity, not least in response to Phil’s clumsy questioning of why Māori burst into song to perform hakas at the slightest opportunity.  

The natural rhythm and flow of the largely sedentary action lays the ground for some extremely powerful moments. As for how it all turns out … you’ll have to see the play to find out and I urge you to, at BATS (until Saturday only!) or wherever it plays nationwide on the Tour-Makers itinerary.

It is astonishing that so much of value if packed into one hour. Everyone, including us, is changed by the experience. It all plays out on a Sean Coyle-designed contemporary camouflage stage cloth, which may also be read as a topographical approximation of the Gallipoli Peninsular.

While we are asked to accept the silent presence of hundreds of other ‘pilgrims’ at close quarters – only made evident as characters try to navigate a path to water or the Portaloos – the way Ben, Phil, Maia and Lizzie interact is totally credible as they banter, challenge, attack, defend, dispute, align and disband while discovering more about each other and deepening their understanding of humanity – as we do.

If only all the soldiers of all nationalities, camped out there 102 years ago, had been able to achieve the same level of ‘agree-to-disagree’ resolution … Anzac Eve is a profoundly insightful play that grows richer in my appreciation the more I think about it. 

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John Smythe March 23rd, 2017

Here is the link to my chat with Jesse Mulligan about ANZAC EVE, preceded by mention of Theatreview’s new look and alignment with the PressPatron community funding platform. (Shame about the lysdexic spelling of my name.)

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201837714/theatre-critic-john-symthe

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