27/08/2010 - 25/09/2010
SEX, LOVE AND EVERYONE IN BETWEEN IN NEW FORGE PLAY
In EROS, the new play by Caroline Lark making its world première at The Forge at The Court Theatre, the world of polyamory – participation in multiple simultaneous loving or sexual relationships – is explored. Director Yvonne Martin describes it as “a comedy of contemporary manners with an intriguing twist”.
In the comedy, a “circle” of polyamorists (Ali Harper, Matt Hudson and Toby Leach in his Forge debut) head away for a weekend retreat with three prospective new members – a nanotechnologist (Laura Hill) and a couple looking to revitalise their marriage (Claire Dougan and Jon Pheloung). However, more than bodies end up entwining and two members find themselves breaking the one taboo: falling in love.
Martin has enjoyed bringing this new work to the stage for the first time, and says that in the script “every word is a molecule that gets combined in interesting ways to create new and exciting things.” Martin says at its heart EROS “boils down to a love story – or, more accurately, a story about love.”
Playwright Caroline Lark was in England when she was inspired to write EROS. “I was flicking through TV channels, recovering from jetlag, when I saw a late-night television special on polyamory circles,” says Lark. “On the one hand they were talking about ‘free love’ and ‘liberation’ while on the other they had these incredibly rigid rules for everything including sex. Love is an unruly beast that won’t conform to any rules, so the anomalies were intriguing.”
Lark includes some nanotechnology in the play “because it’s a twenty-first century issue, like polyamory, that challenges received ideas of what is and isn’t possible for us as a society. Also it’s good to break the ‘geeks aren’t sexy’ stereotype”.EROS will serendipitously be playing at The Forge as a nanotechnology conference, including a public debate chaired by Kim Hill and a nano-art exhibition, organised by the University of Canterbury will be held in the city.
Despite the titillating premise, EROS doesn’t contain nudity and is more a ‘romantic comedy’ than ‘sex comedy’. “It looks more at the relationships than the body parts – which is much more interesting for the actors and the audience” says Martin.
Venue: The Forge at The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Blvd, The Arts Centre, Christchurch
Performance Dates: Friday 27 August – Saturday 25 September 2010
Performance Times: 6:30pm Monday & Thursday; 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (No show Sundays)
Tickets: Adults $32, Seniors $27, Tertiary Students $22, Group discount (10+) $22, 30Under-Club $15 (Mon-Wed)
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz
Julia Claire Dougan
Reuben Jon Pheloung
Natalie Laura Hill
Jake Toby Leach
Andrew Matt Hudson
Set Designer Harold Moot
Stage Manager/Operator Charlotte Thompson
Lighting Designer Josh Major
Sound Designer Andrew Todd
Costume Designer Pam Jones
Wardrobe Manager Emily Thomas
Set Construction Richard van den Berg
Props Nicki Evans
Production Manager Peter McInnes
No shortage of laughter
Review by Lindsay Clark 28th Aug 2010
A world premier performance is always something of an event, and especially interesting when it is a ‘graduate’ of the local scheme, overseen by the Operate Trust and The Court’s Literary Manager, Elizabeth O’Connor.
Fresh work has fresh appeal. Lasting appeal is of course another story. In spite of a deftly directed production from Yvonne Martin, competent design work and talented cast, it seems to me that the play will struggle to engage at that level.
The structure involves a familiar set up, although the context of an experiment in polyamory (‘the practice of having more than one loving and intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of all people involved’) is less often explicit. We meet one couple on the brink of separation, one threesome who are the core of a Circle and one single applicant. We end up with two confirmed couples and one pair for whom polyamory has lost its charm.
In the course of a weekend trying things out, there are group scenes, one on one scenes, man to man and woman to woman conversations. It is talk rather than action, and although Harold Moot’s set, appropriately lit by Josh Major, is endlessly adaptable, frequent shuffling of characters creates a mosaic of impressions rather than a unified progression.
Fortunately, and this is undoubtedly the play’s strength, there are plenty of laughs for both genders in the audience, as well as a sprinkling of surprises, especially in the costume line (Pamela Jones’ design). The audience certainly sounded well entertained, tuning in to the fun of the piece. Fair enough. Consistency and substance can after all apply to porridge.
The play opens with what for me is the most effective scene of the night. Julia (naturopath) and Reuben (explosive Teutonic artist whose specialty is ring making) are discovered in full ding dong by Natalie, an associate professor in nanotechnology. She is an applicant for membership of a polyamory group and furnishes the link to the existing trio, Ingrid, (highly – charged) Jake (Mr Smooth ) and Andrew (flinty journo). These are first impressions before deeper traits emerge.
All six are given colour and impact by an experienced cast. Claire Dougan (Julia) and Jon Pheloung (Reuben) complement each other well and Laura Hill as Natalie delivers the earnest scientist neatly. As prize manipulator Ingrid, Ali Harper is her zesty self and Toby Leach playing Jake is responsible for some very funny moments. Matt Hudson gives us an effective individual in Andrew and all ride out the distance in style.
The playwright defines her work as a tragi-comedy. It seems to me more ironic and comedic than anything approaching tragedy, unless we see that there is something more in this predictable trajectory which confirms again and again the complexity of relationships. Meanwhile there is certainly no shortage of laughter in the play to tide us over.
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