Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

11/07/2014 - 26/07/2014

SELECTA: The Next Big Thing 2014

Production Details

Auckland Theatre Company’s 2014 youth show The Selecta opens at The Basement    


After a hugely successful, sold-out season of Like There’s No Tomorrow in 2013, Auckland Theatre Company will present its 2014 Next Big Thing performance, The Selecta, at Basement Theatre from 12 July. 

Immersive theatre, buskers, vaudeville, poetry, acrobatics and Mr Whippy come together in a multi-faceted theatre experience comprising three separate, short productions. Created in collaboration with the young casts and crews, The Selectaunites fresh ideas with the very best emerging theatre talent.

The Selecta season comprises:
6:30pm  SKIN  |  7:30pm  GIANT TEETH  |  9:00pm  DNA 

Finally The Selecta presents DNA, a high octane thriller played out to a live electronic soundtrack.

If you’re a teenager and you do something really, really bad, what should you do? Tell your parents? Tell the police? Tell a teacher? No, you should do exactly what adults do; cover the whole thing up and hope no one finds out.

Originally commissioned for the National Theatre of London’s New Connections education programme, DNA was written by the author of the stage version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda Dennis Kelly, and for Auckland Theatre Company is being directed by wunderkind Benjamin Henson (Titus Adronicus, Punk Rock).

Attendees have two choices with The Selecta – they can watch the three shows in isolation (approx. one hour each) or opt for the marathon option, watching all three back-to-back.

The SELECTA Season

11 Jul – 26 Jul 2014
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Auckland  

6:30pm  SKIN  Book Tickets for Skin!
7:30pm  GIANT TEETH  Book Tickets for Giant Teeth!
9:00pm  DNA 
Book Tickets for DNA!

Probe the DNA

Review by James Wenley 16th Jul 2014

DNA, by British playwright Dennis Kelly and directed by Benjamin Henson is the odd one out in the lineup. Though localised for the Auckland cast, Kelly’s dialogue – disjointed faltering articulate teen-speak – is performed with less apparent ease by the cast. As we learn at the play’s opening Adam is dead, “dead, dead”, and a group of his peers are responsible; they tossed rocks at him as he walked a grille above a large shaft, which sent him plunging to his death. They turn to Kate (Holly Hudson), an intelligent but damaged girl who only communicates when absolutely necessary, for guidance as to how they can cover their tracks. Kate provides an elaborate plan as to how to get away with manslaughter, but of course, complications ensue.

Though this group of teens, decked in private red school blazers, would seemingly have a higher proportion of those with sociopathic tendencies amongst their number than normal, it’s a plausible enough update of a Lord of the Flies scenario. But whereas Flies shows the gradual descent, here they’re pretty quick to threaten bad outcomes for anyone who transgresses the good of the group. [More


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Naturalism presented with force and conviction

Review by Stephen Austin 14th Jul 2014

I’m going to admit to not being terribly impressed by British playwright Dennis Kelly’s single act thriller. It takes a few too many leaps in logic and off-stage character development to give it a credible or substantive flow, so rather short-changes an audience with its somewhat forceful plot-points. 

Full credit then to director Benjamin Henson and his excellent cast of eleven that this is presented with an eye for heightening the stakes meagrely offered by the script and providing it with a driving urban beat to propel this production. 

After the accidental death of one of their own, a group of teens must decide whether to cover their tracks, report the event to the police or just simply never speak of it. An elaborate scheme is formed to make sure the blame is attributed elsewhere, but this in turn goes wrong, forcing all to re-assess friendships, loyalties and their place in this society.

As the script presents them, each character is something of a trope along a sliding-scale of the spectrum of guilt, so sometimes come across as cyphers at service of the momentum of the story. However, this cast realises the necessary subtleties needed to be able to create something a bit more enticing and naturalistic, by focusing down to the core essentials in each persona. 

Although this would seem to be an ensemble play, it does take a focus on specific characters at the core of the story. Both Holly Hudson and Matthew Kereama impress with excellent driven performances as Kate and Lee, the main protagonists. She is always quietly present, always munching on snacks as subtext, prone to flashes of powerful, direct, authoritative discipline. He, on the other hand, is a bundle of nerves, ever burbling opinion and nervousness, pacing the stage and always trying to place blame.

The two most difficult roles that, as formerly mentioned, have the most difficult character arcs are over-emotional Zoe and the snide careless Cathy, both played with a careful sense of control by Daya Czapanski and Brittany Low. So as not to spill their broad personalities and emotional changes to highly, they’re given the opportunity to pull back into corners of the traverse space to explore their individual evolutions. 

The rest of the cast manage to complement and bring a well-rounded tone to it all, with excellent craft and plenty of commitment. 

Simon Coleman’s tight, very workable box set again provides plenty of angles, movement and height for the action. It is particularly well complemented by Isaac Nonu’s bold, driving sound design, full of electronic cues and propulsive gear changes. Rachel Marlow’s lighting provides the urban glare under which this contemporary story is spot-lit and subtly shifts tones within scenes to heighten the dramatic tension. 

Sure, it’s not a great thriller on the page, but as performed by this cast it is a fine piece of naturalistic drama, presented with force and conviction.

See also reviews for Skin and Giant Teeth in ATC’s The Selecta season.


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