Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

06/06/2015 - 20/06/2015

Production Details

Two shows, alternate nights, two weeks only.


This June, multi-award winning Broadway star Angelica Page is coming to Circa Theatre to perform the two critically-acclaimed solo shows EDGE and TURNING PAGE. Directed by Tony Award nominee Wilson Milam, these spellbinding shows are not to be missed.

Award-winning EDGE returns to Circa ten years after its sensational 2005 season. Written by Paul Alexander, EDGE is set in 1963 on the day of Sylvia Plath’s death, presenting the self-told story of the troubled poet and author of The Bell Jar, The Colossus, Ariel and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Collected Poems. EDGE achieved international success in Australia, New Zealand and the United States after its sold-out season in London, garnering Angelica Page the New Times Award for Best Actress 2005 and a nomination for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Performance 2003.

“… a resurrected Sylvia Plath… the showcase of a lifetime” New York Times.

With a career spanning two decades working in theatre, film and television, Angelica Page’s numerous credits include The National Broadway tour of August: Osage County, NBS’c Law and Order, and The Sixth Sense. A lifetime member of the legendary Actors Studio in New York, she is “An actress of the highest possible voltage” – Wall Street Journal.

Presented by Cariad LTD and proudly supported by Peter Biggs CNZM and Mary Biggs, with thanks to The Museum Art Hotel.

Circa Theatre Opening Night – EDGE – Saturday 6 June, 8pm

Preview Show EDGE Friday 5 June, 8pm and TURNING PAGE Sunday 7 June, 4pm

EDGE: Performances 5, 6, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20 June

(TURNING PAGE: Performances 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19 June)

Performance Times: Tues & Wed 6.30pm; Thur, Fri & Sat 8pm; Sun 4pm

$51 full / $38 senior / $33 friends of Circa / $39 groups 6+ / $36 groups 20+ / $25 students & under 25s / $25 previews

BOOK FOR BOTH and SAVE – Discounts apply for adult, senior, friends of Circa, student and under 25s tickets

Book through Circa Theatre on 04 801 7992 or www.circa.co.nz

Theatre ,

Impossible not to be drawn in

Review by John Smythe 07th Jun 2015

For longer than the 30 years she lived, scholars, lovers of literature and sexual politicians have debated the paradox of brilliant Boston-born poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, found dead with her head in the gas oven of her small, cold London flat in February 1963.

How did a masochist addicted to being dominated by men (it began with her father) become a feminist icon? Her writings articulate dimensions of subjective female experience with great accuracy, arising from true feelings of abandonment, anger, loneliness and self-doubt yet, by some accounts, she was a compulsive liar. 

Legend also has it she gave her English poet husband Ted Hughes as good as she got, she briefly shared his interest in black magic, and they collaborated in rough sex and auto-erotic asphyxia. Did she really put her head in the oven to end her life, while their two children slept upstairs, or did Hughes make it seem that way after a sexual suffocation session had gone too far?

Written and originally directed by Paul Alexander (who also edited Ariel Ascending: Writings About Sylvia Plath then wrote the Plath biography Rough Magic), Edge is named for one of the last two poems she wrote and is set on the day she died. From a position of omniscient prescience she accounts for her life, death and the aftermath, whereby Hughes got rich from her writings and the “cow” he’d left Sylvia for – Assia Wevill – eventually gassed herself and their four year-old daughter.

Solo actor Angelica Page first performed Edge at Circa ten years ago. She was Angelica Torn then, being the daughter of actors Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, but now she has taken her mother’s family name by deed poll. This time, with Wilson Milam as her director, Edge will alternate with her own solo play, Turning Page, about her mother (opening this afternoon). Better, then, that I use first names to avoid confusion.

Angelica embodies the subjective reality of Sylvia – or Sivvy, as her mother called her – with a profound blend of insight, vulnerability, sardonic humour and bitter-sweet compassion. This is no hard-done-by victim but a tragic heroine; a self-aware, all-knowing literary genius and abuse addict, deeply complicit in forging her own cataclysmic fate.

Of course in those days clinical depression was neither understood nor treated as it is now so one of the opportunities this play offers is for us to analyse and interpret the symptoms embedded in her elusive narration – alternating between self-protective and self-exposing – according to our own 2015 awareness. Although Angelica’s Sylvia has aged beyond her death and speaks to us in the now, as evidenced by her mentioning Google in passing, she maintains the subjective perspective evidenced in her writings.

Her story is filtered through Freudian psychology and a touch of Jung. She may be right in observing that England is the land of bad teeth and unrequited incest but in marrying Ted the play makes it clear she has married her father. Her need to strive for perfection and never feeling she had succeeded is clearly attributed to his having been uber-judgemental and controlling. Her protective mother could never win, of course, in Sylvia’s mind (and those psychology theories). Rather than Ted having Oedipal urges, it seems his mother had a Jocasta complex. Then there are the comparisons to be made between Sylvia’s feelings for their daughter and son, not to mention Ted’s even more differentiated feelings.

There is a strong implication that Ted and Assia goaded Sylvia to finally succeed in killing herself, having failed twice before. But his presence in the kitchen when she resorts to the gas oven is allowed the option of being her fantasy. (Alexander does not explore the cover-up of death-by auto-erotic asphyxia theory.)

The setting comprises a work desk, scattered chairs and ramshackle piles of books. Marcus McShane’s lighting design and operation is astutely incorporated, not least to provide the all-consuming darkness.

“This is the last day if my life,” is Sylvia’s opening line and the hour-long first act distils from a whimsically droll overview to more closely share the experience of her life pre-marriage to Ted. The post interval act (30 minutes) envelops us in her life with – and without – Ted, upon whom she is self-destructively emotionally dependent.

There is nothing like a flawed character to compel our interest, empathy, judgement, analysis and comparative self-awareness, and Angelica makes Sylvia so real, even in this unnatural afterlife state, that it is impossible not to be drawn in.

The alchemy of theatrical tragedy being what it is, sharing her experience is paradoxically life-affirming. There is certainly a vibrant buzz in the foyer afterwards.


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