Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

02/06/2015 - 06/06/2015

Production Details


When Auckland playwright Laurence Dolan saw young man Chris Kahui standing in the dock charged with the murder of his baby sons, it left him wondering: “What if he gets jailed, but didn’t do it?”

That question led to more: “What if he did do it and gets off?” and “What happens to a couple after an event like that?”

Dolan sets out to explore these issues in his new play Days Like Today, which opens at The Basement theatre on 2nd June.

The play stars Ashton Brown and Simone Walker as two people who are held apart and forced together by a shared history they can’t escape. They meet one day a year in their own little world of remembrance, loss, sacrifice and redemption. 

“It seems like every other week we hear of a child killed by someone who is supposed to love them,” says Dolan. “The children and the perpetrators come from a range of backgrounds and circumstances and relationships.” 

“You have to wonder how anyone moves on after an event like that.” 

Director, Lucy Noonan, was drawn to the play because of the intensity of the relationship between the two characters. “I never knew what was going to happen next and the ending just blew me away,” said Noonan. 

The play was developed through the Auckland Playwrights Collective’s ‘Read Raw’ series of workshops and public readings and the Court Theatre’s ‘Fresh Ink’ programme. 

Days Like Today
At The Basement, Lower Grey’s Avenue, Auckland
2 to 6 June, 7pm 
Tickets available at iTicket – or (09) 361 1000(09) 361 1000

With Ashton Brown and Simone Walker

Theatre ,

Maybe another day

Review by Matt Baker 05th Jun 2015

The combination of Auckland Playwright Collective’s Read Raw in 2008 and The Court Theatre’s Fresh Ink new play development programme in 2010 has certainly given substance to Laurence Dolan’s play, Days Like Today, but substance is not enough for a play to make the transition from page to stage. It requires a ruthless director and mature cast, who will question everything and make choices based on a psychological and practical investigation of the characters and circumstances respectively.

At times the dialogue in Days Like Today progresses with a Pinteresque patter, and when director Lucy Noonan, and the cast, Ashton Brown and Simone Walker, tune into it, the show sings along. At other times, the dialogue sounds like an art-house film student script that hits with the subtlety of a semi t-boning you at an intersection. It’s a shocking inconsistency that prevents the kernel of the drama from truly developing and affecting its audience. [More]


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Too much detail blurs the most poignant part

Review by Lucy O'Connor 03rd Jun 2015

This play sets out to explore the notion of how two people, once lovers, justify their current situation through an event that changed and shaped their lives forever. They cannot face the memory uninhibited but, impossible to escape, they will never be without it. Despite what’s apparent in publicity, I’ll reveal no more, except to say it’s not a soft topic.

A man paces and fidgets in a hotel room, clearly anticipating the person about to arrive.  A woman enters and there is silence. Do the two know each other? Are they strangers, or are they so familiar that nothing need be said? The latter is true and they dutifully enquire about the others’ last year with downplayed interest. The woman (Diane/Sharon, played by Simone Walker) is stoic and proud. Gary (Ashton Brown) comes on with more bitterness, more outward hurt than Diane, although it is clear they have both suffered and are still suffering in their own way.

As conversation barriers start to break down, slowly but surely, information and insights about their lives, both together and apart are revealed. They meet one day a year, which is supposedly Gary’s day. Why, it is not said. He has a job as a bricklayer. Her mother died of a stroke. His parents bought him a house. She lives with her new boyfriend.

So just what is the link that keeps them checking in, and checking up on how the other is doing every 365 days? They obviously still feel like they owe each other conversation, understanding and caring support. They reminisce, although what good it does them is unclear. There is emphasis on the time that has passed, the time that is to come; they pick apart each other’s lives with entitlement but again, why? Ah, there it is – they had a child. Jimmy. Emphasis on the ‘had’. He is no longer around. Dead, one concludes. There was an ‘accident’. So what exactly happened to Jimmy?

Conversation centers mainly around two things: what is the same and what has changed. It is intriguing and somewhat mysterious as they work hard to build walls, which inevitably come crumbling down. There are serious power shifts and lots of give and take. When one reaches their limit, the other seeks to coax them back with trust and understanding. The script has a rhythm to it that every person in a relationship can relate to.

The actors do a great job of being present and engaged for a solid hour. Although the dialogue and the expression are compelling, I never feel like I am invading the intimate space of the couple; never feel like I am a fly on the wall. When covering a topic with such emotional weight, one wants, in fact needs, an exposed rawness, the feeling that one is witnessing something off limits. Perhaps there are simply too many tidbits of information: the history of their relationship, how each have lived the last year, re-hashing a prison term, a terminal illness, the death of her mother, a baby on the way …

Then there is the big revelation of who did what and who paid the price. It is all just a little too much and I think it numbs me to the most poignant part of the play. We, the audience, just have to keep up and be on top of the content, and are never allowed the reflection that comes with silence. I can never soak up a moment for long enough to digest the weight of it all, so eventually it all blurs in to one.

The stage set up is at first intriguing and with its starchy hotel like interior feels appropriate for such a reunion, but it lacks dynamic as the play progresses and does little to signify the undoing and eventual repair of the relationship. 

The play does reflect unconditional love on this one day each year that Diane and Gary both need equally. It is a way to relieve their frustrations, to serve the blame, to be snide and bitter and ridiculous and to wish that things had been different at the end of it all. They need this day in order to move forward together.


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