Beyond the Blue

Concert Chamber - Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland

01/03/2008 - 06/03/2008

Production Details

Pandemonium Theatre (The Butcher’s Daughter and Black Ice) and THE EDGE® bring to the stage a show devised by twelve young aspiring actresses who collectively weave visually stunning tales of feisty women and their daring escapades.

Beyond the Blue is a journey of self discovery and transformation by women who have dared to push the boundaries of their safe existence. It tells of rebels on the run who have journeyed beyond what they know. Past the places others stopped, past the warning signs and safety nets and into the wild beyond.

Join us at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE® to celebrate the adventurer within us all who dares to face her demons and live her dreams.
1 March 2008 – 6 March 2008 

Ella Becroft
Connie Boston
Lily Graham-Stewart
Elizabeth Harrex
Jasmeen Makan
Phoebe Mason
Pippa Neels
Jaz Newport
Zinzi Scott Falanitule
Helen Sheehan
Sigourney Taylor
Katrina Wesseling

Julie Nolan: Director
Kate Parker: Director, Image & Puppet Design
Simon Coleman: Props Construction
Elizabeth Whiting: Costume Design

Vera Thomas: Lighting Design
Jordan Greatbatch: Sound Design
Margaret-Mary Hollins: Producer
Lynne Cardy: Dramaturg
Beth Kayes: Fight Choreographer
Lorraine Burn: Assistant Wardrobe
Jonny Brugh: Rehearsal Photographer  

A journey well worth the risk

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 03rd Mar 2008

Pandemonium Theatre has assembled an accomplished design team and a talented group of 12 young women for an intensely physical presentation of the world of 19th-century female adventurers. The physical theatre approach gives a mythical quality to the main storyline as an ethereal colony of butterflies becomes the catalyst for a quest to capture a rare and elusive treasure.  [More]


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Adventurous theatre of intrepid adventures

Review by Nik Smythe 02nd Mar 2008

Twelve energetic young women aged 16 – 20 comprise the cast of Beyond the Blue, an initiative which began a year ago, after a process of auditioning and intensive workshopping.  I imagine that each of them must feel very fortunate to be involved with such purely creative and truly original storytelling.

The narrative centres around a young woman (Ella Becroft), whom we meet preparing for a life-changing journey.  She wears an appropriate looking jacket and army-style backpack, and a less practical seeming billowy Victorian skirt.  As she journeys through many exotic lands in search of the rare and elusive butterfly, the ‘Papillio Lycee de Luce’ (if I heard correctly), she in turn reads the biographical account of one Lady Cordelia (Katrina Wesseling), a very aristocratic explorer and her eventful sojourn in Africa.  Cordelia is very prissy and giggly on the surface, but most fearless and capable when the chips are down.

According to the written material from which the play was devised by the cast and directors (the sources credited in the programme simply as ‘all women explorers’), these uncommonly adventurous ladies commonly ventured into uncharted wilderness in such impractical garb. 

Elizabeth Whiting’s costume design is largely neutral black to accommodate the cast’s theatrical versatility, which in turn lends more effect to the occasional splendid garment such as that of Lady Cordelia, who even more than Becroft’s character is dressed more for an evening function than for a safari.

The leads carry the narrative line well without upstaging or monopolising attention at all.  Indeed, the entire cast’s work is noteworthy both for the energy and skill displayed and the clear mutual trust and respect they share, forming a cohesion by which they synchronise to create a theatrical work somewhat greater than the sum of its parts. 

Unfortunately, the challenges of the Concert Chamber space do compromise some of the hard work put in by the dedicated company.  Although the narrative is told 90% visually, and the minimal lines are for the most part clear, still the notorious acoustics of the concert chamber means it takes a little extra concentration to decipher speech.  Significantly, I didn’t manage to catch the name of Becroft’s lead character, although I gather she was based on famous French butterfly hunter Margaret Fountaine.

While the voluminous space is essentially well utilised (audience in three-quarter round and the split-level performance area, consisting of both the raised stage and the central floor area, making good use of space and distance), many of the audience behind the first two rows have a somewhat limited line of sight, making it difficult to see the action taking place low to the ground, of which there is quite a bit.

It’s always refreshing and often exciting to see ideas played with as freely as this.  Scenes and vignettes are delivered in an original, frequently abstract concoction of pure theatre.  From the rolling sea voyages to the hot air balloon travelling over the Scandinavian Village, we are transported by suspension of disbelief made easy by the engaging play under the skilful direction of physical theatre veterans Kate Parker and Julie Nolan.

Parker’s innovative puppet design also plays a prominent role.  I particularly loved the gossiping Scandinavian house-heads (assuming Parker and not Whiting created them).  The various sized butterflies suspended on long poles are perhaps a tad stiff, and also seem a bit tricky to light in the space, however these are petty niggles within a mostly triumphant collection of visual props.

Jordan Greatbatch’s sound is very ambient, giving an atmosphere of wondrous and joyful discovery whilst never particularly augmenting any of the more dramatic or violent aspects of these intrepid women’s’ adventures.  The intrepid lighting design of Vera Thomas is harder to make clear sense of, due in some large part to issues with the venue.

Although conceived, devised, directed and performed by women, the energy is not preachy or overtly feminist.  It is simply, in project manager Sally Markham’s words, "a salute to past women explorers and travellers who have dared to risk their reputations and in some cases their lives to follow their dreams." 

My own take on Beyond the Blue‘s message is that your dreams might kill you, but only because they bring you to life in the first place.

The abstract ethic may be more easily digested by a more theatre or dance literate audience, but there’s plenty to like for anyone willing to abandon their preconceived notions and just go with it – not unlike a metaphor for the play’s protagonists. 


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