End of Summer Time

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

04/05/2024 - 09/06/2024

Production Details

By Roger Hall
Directed by Ross Jolly

Circa Theatre

Roger Hall is back! With his latest play, End of Summer Time.

Experience Roger Hall’s latest play, End of Summer Time, the third instalment of the lovable character Dickie Hart, starring Gavin Rutherford.

Dickie Hart is told by wife Glenda they have to move from Wellington to Auckland. How will Dickie cope with apartment living, meeting new people, Covid lockdown, getting a new driver’s licence…and possibly even having to support The Blues?

Circa Theatre, Circa Two.
Preview 3rd May
4th May – 9th June
7:30pm Tuesday – Saturday, 4pm Sunday.

Book online at Circa.co.nz: https://www.circa.co.nz/package/end-of-summer-time/
or call the Box Office on 04 801 7992

Dickie Hart: Gavin Rutherford

SM/Operator: Deb McGuire
Graphic Designer: Aimee Sullivan
Publicist: Anna Secker
Costume Designer: Sheila Horton
Set Designer: Andrew Foster
Lighting Designer: Marcus McShane
Projection Designer: Piper Rose Kilmister

Comedy , Theatre , Solo ,

90 Minutes

Rutherford superb in latest play in ‘Dickie’ saga

Review by Sarah Catherall 10th May 2024


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Amusement, laughter, gasps and ‘oof’s at the slings and arrows launched by life

Review by John Smythe 05th May 2024

The title of Sir Roger Hall’s End of Summer Time is surely a nod to Bruce Mason’s The End of the Golden Weather, given Dickie Hart now lives in an apartment complex near Takapuna Beach (as does Hall). Dickie even launches into his own lyrical description of the place, echoing, in his retired farmer way, the prologue of Mason’s classic (Te Parenga being code for Takapuna, where Mason had lived in childhood).

While Mason’s solo play marks a boy’s transition from idyllic pre-adolescent innocence to a greater awareness of life’s realities, Hall takes Dickie from comfortable retirement in a somewhat alien landscape to a whole new state of being he had not anticipated. To detail it precisely would be a spoiler, given the dramatic impact of the revelation; a moment that elevates an amiable rollout of often bemused recollections to a level that greatly magnifies our empathy for Dickie.

Like one of Dickie’s beloved Rugby Union matches, End of Summer Time is a game of two halves. Initially Hall creates a vivid snapshot of recent pre-Covid middle NZ social history that actor Gavin Rutherford and director Ross Jolly recreate in a way that elevates it from the plethora of stand-up comedy shows we are about to be offered in the NZ International Comedy Festival. Then we engage, post-Covid, with Dickie’s emotional landscape at a depth that greatly enriches the value of this encounter.

Circa audiences first met cow cocky Dickie Hart in 1996, in Hall’s C’mon Black, after his life-changing trip to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa (where the All Blacks lost in suspicious circumstances). Grant Tilly (with director Danny Mulheron) memorably solved the problem of where to stand, in the present, while telling his stories, by bringing a massive Tilly-designed suitcase into the theatre itself and producing memorabilia to illustrate his anecdotes.

Three years later Tilly’s Dickie returned in Hall’s You Gotta be Joking, marooned amid terracotta pots on an inner suburban patio in an alien city, having sold the farm because Glenda, his wife, wanted a more cultural lifestyle. Now they have moved to Auckland to be closer to the grandchildren.

This time the Circa production maintains the Auckland setting, whereas Hall’s Winding Up, which the Auckland Theatre Company premiered in February 2020 (just in time to beat Covid-19’s entry to NZ), maintained the habit of relocating his plays to Wellington (directed by Susan Wilson). Given both plays, as originally written, involve retired couples now living in a Takapuna apartment complex after previous lives in earlier Hall plays (Genevieve and Barry Mayfield were born in Conjugal Rites, 1990) I can’t help but wonder if Dickie and Glenda ever met Gen and Barry … But that’s by the bye.

Gavin Rutherford first inhabited the Dickie Hart persona in a 2011 revival of C’mon Black (directed by Andrew Foster). Then I missed the character’s irascible bull-at-a-gate blundering into political incorrectness, born of the fear of change and difference. But now, although the way the world has changed over his lifetime still confronts him, not least when confounded by the questions and options in the 2023 NZ Census form, his relative ease in accommodating change makes sense. Even in the wake of the aforementioned emotional bombshell, I find myself reviewing Rutherford’s impeccably-timed delivery of Dickie’s recollections in the light of the present situation he finds himself in and find it entirely justified. His engagement with the audience is also a pleasure to experience.

I have also engaged with the naturalistic apartment setting (designed by Andrew Foster, constructed by John Hodgkins and lit by Marcus McShane) and the quality of Dickie’s attire (designed by Shelia Horton) in a similar way, assuming the offstage Glenda is responsible for their tidiness then wondering why they are so tidy until I realise why it all makes sense in terms of Dickie’s progress to his here and now. The changed state of the balcony pot plants is a moving visual cue to what has happened.

Although this is Ross Jolly’s first encounter with the Dickie Hart plays as Director, it is the seventh Hall play he has helmed and the most recent of many collaborations with Rutherford as an actor. The melding of creative talents produces an outcome that begins as a pleasantly entertaining encounter before packing an emotional punch that’s perversely satisfying for the audience, before restoring calm.

As we have come to expect with Roger Hall plays, there is amusement and outright laughter throughout. And here, on opening night, there are also gasps and ‘oof’s at the slings and arrows launched by the play.

End of Summer Time is Hall’s second or third “last play” and now, in his writer’s note, he confidently says this won’t be his last, but “it might be the last one to get produced.” Let’s hope not. Meanwhile, catch this one.


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