New Athenaeum Theatre, 24 The Octagon, Dunedin

14/08/2019 - 17/08/2019

Production Details

Suitcase Theatre are excited to bring two intense, dark and twisted short plays to the New Athenaeum Theatre for a 5 show run from 14 – 17 August.

At least 50% of profits are going directly to the Night Shelter Trust, Dunedin.

The plays have several synergies, similar off-centre themes. Crunchy Silk by Jess Sayer is similarly dark and twisted, it’s unclear who is telling the truth and who is confusing who…  The Night Shift by Mark Murphy is a compelling play about the profound impact of childhood memories on adult relationships.

Crunchy Silk
There’s something wrong with Astrid. At least, that’s what Olivia says. But Marlo says Astrid is fine, Olivia’s the one who’s batshit. Round and round and round it goes and when it stops, someone dies.

Warning: Contains themes of physical and psychological violence.

Directors Note – Sofie Welvaert 

I chose Crunchy Silk because Jess Sayer writes wonderful stories. Don’t get me wrong, they are seriously messed up stories, but she invites you in from the safety of your theatre seat. You are bombarded with joy and pain and the nonsense of lives unfolding. You laugh out loud, then catch yourself. And she keeps you guessing, even after you’ve left the theatre. To me that’s great storytelling.

Jess’s characters are complicated. Like all of us they have shades of grey. Are the characters of Crunchy Silk are messed up, or made up? You decide.

I have had the great pleasure of working with some utterly fabulous Dunedin performers to unfold the story and bring these richly textured characters to life. It’s been a disturbing and wonderful journey.
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Performed alternately at 6pm and 8pm the run allows audiences to pick and choose if they see the two shows in one night or on separate nights at their preferred time. This allows early birds to see two shows on different nights and be home by 7.30pm and accommodates people with commitments to feed the kids etc. before heading out to a show at 8pm. Anyone who books to see both shows on the same night will receive a free drink from either the Craic Irish Tavern or Thistle Café & Bar.

The New Athenaeum Theatre – August 2019:
Wednesday 14 – 6pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift 
Thursday 15    – 6pm The Night Shift | 8pm Crunchy Silk 
Friday 16         – 6 pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift
Saturday 17 matinees – 12noon The Night Shift | 2pm Crunchy Silk 
Saturday 17 evening   – 6pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift 

Shows $15 each. Book for both shows on one night and receive a free drink.

The cast visited Carol at the Night Shelter and learned that they rely hugely on the generosity of Dunedin for food, clothing and financial donations. One item they are constantly in need of is toilet paper so the cast determined to build a toilet paper fort to donate at the end of the run. They are inviting audience members to bring a pack of toilet paper to contribute to the fort they’re building in the foyer of the NAT, as a fun way to increase awareness for the important support the shelter provides to people in Dunedin.

How you can help The Night Shelter:

Volunteer an hour for the night Shelter Trust Street Appeal Week:
Tuesday 20 – Saturday 24 August: or call Carol on 03 477 0546 

Buy a ticket to the shows – at least 50% of ticket sales go directly to The Night Shelter.

Bring a pack of toilet paper to add to the fort!

Kimberley Buchan as Astrid
Cheyne Jenkinson as Marlo
Alison Cowan as Olivia

Lights – Martin Swann
Visual design – Sofie Welvaert
Stage Manager – Laura Wells

Theatre ,

Explores the uncomfortable elegance of unreal reality

Review by Kate Timms-Dean 17th Aug 2019

Things look different in the New Athenaeum Theatre tonight. The seats have been moved up to create an intimate vignette of the stage, sparsely decorated and littered with chopsticks and firewood. And amongst it all is Astrid (Kimberley Buchan), playing with chopsticks, building towers, totally engrossed. It feels as though we are trespassing on her world.

Immediately it is clear that Astrid is young, a child, or at least childlike. She is engrossed in her imaginary world. Until she is interrupted by Marlo (Cheyne Jenkinson).

It takes a while to unpick this relationship. There is love here and intimacy but while Astrid appears smitten, Marlo is clearly an older brother looking out for his little sister. 

Astrid’s mood moves quickly, never staying too long in one place. She flits from play, smiles and laughter to angry frustration and fury in a blink. But we still need more information. Who are Astrid and Marlo? What is wrong? And why the fascination with chopsticks?

Marlo sits down, back to us, and a new character enters the fray: Olivia (Alison Cowan). She is brusque, professional and distant. But Astrid is confused. Who is Olivia? A mother? A friend? A doctor? 

If you are looking for a light, simple story, this isn’t for you. Here is darkness and danger; here is risk and fear. At times, I am convinced that violence will explode across the stage. The sense of unreality is oppressive and the audience is forced to piece together the evidence to identify the characters and their web of relationships. A range of tricky subjects are explored in the vein of mental illness and recovery.

As the performance ends, I am still unsure of what has happened. I leave the theatre, my mind full of questions and competing thoughts. But foremost in my mind are queries about the nature of reality. Reality is a manifestation of our perception of the world around us and, for Astrid, her reality is just unreal.

The title, Crunchy Silk, encapsulates the uncomfortable elegance of this play. 


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