31/05/2006 - 10/06/2006
31/05/2006 - 10/06/2006
Nothing happens by accident. All I want is everything now
One wrong move and the waiter loses the use of his legs. Chronic OOS turns a man to violence. A woman becomes hopelessly lost in Hanoi while another convinces herself she’s dying of cancer.
Winning Productions returns to Luxembourg Gardens – its new Auckland home – after a successful season in Wellington. Opening 31 May to 10 June their new play everything. now explores the way work in the 21st century is moulding our bodies into monsters.
Written, designed and directed by Stephen Bain (Kelly J Loko, Under Lili’s Balcony) with original songs by Leila Adu and starring Rachel Forman, Caoimhe Macfehin, Josh Rutter and Regan Taylor its going to be hard to ignore a play that gives you everything. now
original songs by Leila Adu
Review by Denis Edwards 01st Jun 2006
Stephen Bain has points to make, and his play is as much his making them as it is about his characters. To his credit he delivers them with a stylish eye for design and movement, and a directorial touch as much choreography as traffic management.
We are given a well worn ‘Globalisation is not necessarily good’ along with a more interesting thesis: that the more events are connected, and there is a lot of connecting in this piece, the greater is the disconnect between the people caught up in those events.
This makes for edgy and relentlessly uncomfortable relationships and dialogue. It is all suitably chilling and it serves its point about connections, although at a price. It isolates the characters from the audience by making them largely unlovable.
Whether this is the director grappling with the ‘fourth wall’ or not I do not know, but the medicine can be a little easier to swallow when it comes with a little bit of sugar.
Bain’s closing image captures the problems with his script. It gives us an image, one to die for, and then overlays it with political comment that cuts hard into the magic of what is happening with that long and thick strand of muslin.
The cast, Rachel Forman, Caoimhe Macfehin, Joshua Rutter and Regan Taylor are a smoothly professional group. Energy levels are high and they easily extract everything on offer here.
Each has a moment. Taylor’s is in his silent exploration of a computer monitor’s domination of the human and the struggle to assert himself against it, with the monitor being variously, a source of music, a medical scanner and a monster.
Forman has a flirty but desperate café/bar patron, sure but unsure and ultimately tragic.
Macfehin has one of the night’s best; a woman given appalling news and contemplating a bleak present while images of her joyous past dance before her. Her attack on the past is a genuinely touching and frightening scene.
Rutter has a sinister waiter who suffers mightily and becomes truly vulnerable. He has the consistently best-written part, one providing the actor with a real voyage. His series of sharp little scenes with Macfehin almost effortlessly track and trace a relationship’s trajectory, its comfort and bleakness in less than three minutes are particularly strong.
Because the play, only 90 mins long, gives itself a lot of ground to cover, and at least two of the strands seem to be working against each other it might have prospered from another pass through an editor’s hands, giving it a sharper focus on the best material.
There is, for instance, a brief sojourn through Hanoi that feels thrown in there for little other reason than the background footage was available, with the pretext for getting it on screen the thinnest and weakest moment of the play.
Whether this is a writer not quite trusting his material is something I do not know. It is of course entirely possible this reviewer, raised on classic drama, although no stranger to episodic or time-jangled material, is missing a new direction in theatre. If it is, then so be it. However, the criticism stands.
The cast have a superb and flexible space to work in. Luxembourg Gardens is a warehouse conversion in the old Sofrana House, once used by a shipping company as offices and a woolstore. It is a few doors down from the Mercure Hotel, backing on to the Britomart and part of the Auckland City Council effort to foster life in a part of Customs Street that for over ten years has been its shame; elegant buildings slowly rotting.
The acting and performance space could cater to almost any sized production, including having a level that will one day provide someone playing Juliet the chance to burn. There is plenty of room. It seems easy to light, and this play is imaginatively lit. The acoustics are good, with the actors able to cope well when required to work against the music; a set of compositions ranging from synthesiser to jazz to near-opera, by Leila Adu.
Currently it is home to a performance group, the one mounting this production, a dance troupe and a music ensemble. They plan to share and develop the space, and will likely be combining for future productions.
The space is itself still being developed. With fundraising going on apace for the building’s elevator to be re-instated the punters face three and a half floors of huffing up the stairs.
Still, once in the heights the pre-theatre drinks are given a little extra spice. To stand at the windows and look back to the city is to have a fine vantage point over some of Auckland’s red light district, its own theatrical performance as the police and patrons eye each other in the demi-monde.
There is a distinctly Lower East Side feel to Luxembourg Gardens, right down to the chairs and the sense of good art on a shoestring. One heartening thought is the now-sleek Auckland Theatre Company grew out of a similar space and in more or less the same part of town.
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