Wanaka Masonic Hall, Wanaka

24/04/2015 - 25/04/2015

Festival of Colour 2015

Production Details

World premiere of Dave Armstrong’s new play 
Every battle is Chunuk Bair; every war is the First World War’  

Two young New Zealand guys meet two young Australian girls at Gallipoli the night before Anzac Day. Maia and Lizzie work in an insurance office on the Gold Coast. Ben is a graduate of New Zealand history while Phil is a graduate of the Munich Beer Festival. The four are to attend the Dawn Ceremony as part of their OE. But are they there for a boozy party and possible hook-up, or to solemnly commemorate the occasion? 

As the disparate group of twentysomethings prepare for dawn, they debate the Anzac experience. Is it just a convenient myth? How relevant is the futile century-old campaign today? And why are Aussies and Kiwis always competing? 

During the night they drink, bitch, flirt, take selfies, and thrash out political issues, as well as more personal ones. Tempers flare, romance sparks and ghosts are uncovered. Directed by Jamie McCaskill, Anzac Eve is highly entertaining and takes an honest and unflinching look at the Anzac experience. 

This is a workshop production. The 11am show is aimed at schools but there will be some tickets available for public. 

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


Friday 24 April, 11am & 6pm | Saturday 25 April, 12noon 
Wanaka Masonic Lodge 
$25 adults / $10 students 

Ben – Adam Brown
Phil – Jared Kirkwood
Lizzie – Awhina-Rose Ashby
Maia– Brynley Stent

Producer – Caroline Armstrong, Armstrong Creative

Theatre ,

60 mins

New Anzac play first class

Review by Nigel Zega 25th Apr 2015

The first public outing of Dave Armstrong’s topical play, Anzac Eve, changed the perceptions of the largely young audience who had a chance to see a work in progress. 

Although only a workshop production, the quality of the writing, direction (by Jamie McCaskill), and acting held a packed house without need of sets, lighting or effects. 

It was not only first class entertainment, but also a chance to obtain a new understanding of what really happened a century ago. 

Four young travellers meet at Gallipoli the night before the Anzac ceremonies. The two Kiwi guys (Adam Brown and Jared Kirkwood) and two Australian girls (Awhina-Rose Ashby and Brynley Stent) soon progress from typical cross-Tasman bickering to discussing why they have made the journey. 

Prejudices are aired, myths bust, and parallels drawn between then and now. It’s 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. 

On this showing alone, Anzac Eve deserves funding to tour schools on both sides of the Tasman as well as appear on professional stages. 


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Entertaining and challenging

Review by Viv Milsom 24th Apr 2015

ANZAC Eve had its premiere in Wanaka’s Festival of Colour as a workshop production. This meant there were minimal props, no set and no stage lighting. Just four terrific young actors, a great script and a director with a keen sense of timing and rhythm.

Set at ANZAC Cove on Gallipoli on 24 April, the play tells the story of two Kiwi guys and two Australian girls meeting and setting up camp for the night as they prepare for ANZAC Day. 

From his first entrance, as cocky young Kiwi Phil, on his Big OE, to his final ‘evacuation’, Jared Kirkwood delivers a standout performance.

He is matched by Adam Brown playing young Kiwi academic, Ben. In a challenging role, Brown uses Ben’s superior knowledge of history to debate the legitimacy of the Gallipoli campaign, as well as war in general. 

It’s not long before Phil and Ben are joined by two Aussie girls from the Gold Coast: Maia, played by Brynley Stent, and Lizzie, played by Awhina-Rose Ashby.  The girls have come prepared with their sleeping bags and ‘Skippy the kangaroo’ onesies, and with Phil sharing his ‘special’ orange juice, it is game on.

Despite minimal stage action, ANZAC Eve works brilliantly as a piece of theatre. The four young actors keep the audience entertained and challenged as they focus on how they will survive the night, at the same time as they debate the deeper issues surrounding the ANZAC experience.

It is also great to see plenty of young people in the audience and a forum after the performance gives them and the rest of the audience the opportunity to question the actors, director and writer.

This may be a workshop production, but this is a play with legs that is already up and running.


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