Falling Sparrows Here or There

Zeal (above Bodega), Wellington

28/09/2011 - 01/10/2011

Production Details

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”   HAMLET (Shakespeare)

“ I do not like them here or there,
   I do not like them anywhere.”     GREEN EGGS AND HAM   (Dr Seuss) 

Rehearsal, performance, real life drama and internal struggles are all thrown together onstage in this play – which plays with a play and the play within the play!

Lines are forgotten, feeling changed, broken hearts are mended and the magic of acting prevails in this fast paced comedy with a surreal edge.

Falling Sparrows Here or There has connections to Shakespeare’s Hamlet with slightly more than a nod to the stories of Dr Seuss. 

When Sarah Delahunty wrote 2b or nt 2b (Pick of Fringe 08) which featured characters from six classic plays, she suggested she might write six more plays honouring each of these characters.

Since then she has written two plays performed in schools: The Antigone Project and Dream On (A Midsummer Nights Dream). “That leaves me Hedda Gabler and two Chekov heroines to go” says Delahunty.Could be quite a challenge.” 

Besides 2b or nt 2b, 1st Gear Productions has mounted shows regularly in the Fringe Festival, with other projects also giving opportunities for young people to perform, such as Medea Songs (Fringe 2010), Crazy Joint Love( Fringe 2011) and Trusting Strangers, Counting Stars in the Downstage bar 2010. 

Seven senior students of 1st Gear Productions make up the cast: 
Olly Humphries – recently seen in the Young and Hungry play For Johnny, Medea Songs.
Te Aihe Butler – also in For Johnny and more recently Sketch at Bats, plus Medea Songs, Crazy Joint Love
Neenah Dekkers – recently returned with the Shakespeare Globe trip after performing in Much Ado About Nothing
at the Globe, Medea Songs, Crazy Joint Love.
Rian Kannemeyer Medea Songs,
Robbie Nicol Crazy Joint Love,
Max Apse and
Maddie McIntyre.

Falling Sparrows Here or There
ZEAL (above Bodega, 103 Ghuznee Street, City)
7pm, 28 September – 1 October
$10 (door sales only) 

Olly Humphries
Te Aihe Butler
Neenah Dekkers
Rian Kannemeyer 
Robbie Nicol 
Max Apse 


Deeply simple fun with angst

Review by John Smythe 28th Sep 2011

Sarah Delahunty and her 1st Gear Productions senior troupe have created a dynamic hour of theatre that almost defies description because to put what happens into words will almost inevitably diminish it. But hey, that’s my job so I have to try. 

Named to suggest a blend of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, it is also spiced with musical whiffs of The Simpsons and The Pink Panther, and more especially a simple but achingly poignant love song beautifully sung by Neenah Dekkers, who also composed it.

Plain coloured tops, bow ties and sneakers, and white gloves combine with highly stylised action to add to the cartoonish style. And yet the abiding themes of human angst, as exemplified in Hamlet, are ever-present and all-too-real to those in their grip: the pain of unrequited love; the anguish of betrayal; the quest for vengeance; the fear of death and what comes after; the fear failure; metaphysical questions which pit existentialism against determinism … Not that they say so in so many words. It is simultaneously very simple yet deeply complex. Just like life, really …

At its most prosaic, the premise is that a young company is on a four-hour countdown to performing Hamlet and their attempts to cohere as a group are undermined by the personal anxieties, predilections and/or power trips that afflict each individual. Off-stage relationships and those in the play become so infused with each other it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. Just like life, really …

We can take it as real that the girl playing Ophelia (Dekkers) is in love with the guy deeply immersed in his Hamlet role (Olly Humphries) while the Polonius actor (Max Apse) wants her to stop fantasising, the Gertrude actress (Maddie McIntyre) wants focus on the job at hand and the Claudius actor (Te Aihe Butler) just wants to get it right.

Meanwhile the two lads playing Horatio (Robbie Nicol) and Laertes (Rian Kannemeyer), and doubling as Barnardo and Francisco, have a sort of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern thing going as they pursue the supernatural – which confronts Hamlet with his own mortality …

En route, the abiding questions embedded in Hamlet, like whether or not he really loved Ophelia and what was really going on with his mother, are exercised.

But all this simmers within the cauldron of well contained and a highly disciplined evocation of chaos, played out on a square stage bounded by audience of three sides. And incredibly, within the hour and amid all else, the ensemble plays out two quite different distillations of Hamlet, each worth the (minimal) price of admission alone.

So where does Green Eggs and Ham come in? Well, not to give too much away, let’s say that like Dr Seuss’s “Sam I am”, this ‘Hamlet’ chap doth protest too much about what he likes and does not. Love and hate? The same egg flipped.  

Delahunty’s strong suit has always been in addressing the older teenage experience with truth, wit and flair, and Falling Sparrows Here or There is no exception. It offers deeply simple fun with angst.  
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