Flagons & Foxtrots

Court One, Christchurch

26/08/2006 - 14/10/2006

Production Details

By Alison Quigan & Ross Gumbley
Directed by Ross Gumbley

Saturday night… The mid-60s… New Zealand. The place to be is down the hall.

The Field family has run the local dance for years. Pinky Moore dreams of the vertical expression of horizontal desire…he dreams of the Saturday night dance. His brother Archie dreams of his own band, fame and fortune. He is only thwarted by his tragic lack of talent.

Share in the nostalgic celebration as we journey back to a 60s dance hall for an evening of fun, laughter and rampant hormones.  

SID                              Geoffrey Heath
ARCHIE                     Michael Lee Porter
PINKIE                       Cameron Douglas
JACK                          Matt Hudson

AUNTY INA              Sandra Rasmussen
JILLIAN                      Claire Dougan
RITA                           Amy Straker

Set Design                   Tony Geddes
Costume Design         Emily Thomas
Lighting Design          Geoff Nunn
Sound Design             Chris O'Mahony
Stage Managers          Mandy Perry
                                    Charlotte Thompson
Operator                     Josh Major
Properties                   Nicki Evans
                                    Louisa Davies
Construction              Nigel Kerr
                                    Maurice Kidd
                                    Richard van den Berg
                                    Richard Daem
                                    Shane Norrie
Wardrobe                   Pamela Jones
                                    Emily Thomas
                                    Beryl Hampson
Production Manager  Peter Booth

Theatre ,

1 hr 55 mins, incl. interval

Down the dance hall sixties style: true community theatre

Review by Ron Kjestrup 29th Aug 2006

It’s around nineteen-sixty-something and these jokers’ve got one of those rock and roll groups, The Archie Moore Trio (bloody silly name). But that old codger Sid who runs the dance at the Ohoka Hall won’t let them play.

That’s not the only thing ruffling their feathers, though, because Jack’s got sheila trouble –  about tying the knot – and he might even have –  in the wrong chicken coop. With Aunty Ina listening on the telephone exchange there’s no blimmin’ secrets out that way. The hall’s gonna be chock-a-block Saturday nigh,; there’s a big wig coming to hear the band and the whole thing could turn to custard quicker than the Fernside front row scoffing the sausie rolls.

Ross Gumbley and Alison Quigan’s Flagons and Foxtrots is a lovely recreation of a time when New Zealanders gathered at the local hall and met their future spouses. Shiela’s wore miniskirts, a bloke had to do the right thing and everyone drank beer around the boot in the car park.

There’s not much local theatre that has really explored this era which is surprising because Gumbley and Quigan have seen the material in the changing social mores and sexual politics of the time and woven them with the threads of our glorious vernacular to create an hilarious and sometimes quite dark comedy.

The skills of writing, producing and acting good theatrical comedy are vastly underrated in this country and this production is a text book example of how to do it with flair and integrity. In a word, it’s a purler.

I’m not going to highlight any of the cast because they are all very, very good. [For a full list of credits, click on the play’s title above.] Gumbley directs and he knows the essence of good comedy is ensemble. All the actors have nailed their roles and their relationships.

This veracity is a solid dramatic platform from which the endless string of one liners and gags is launched and it works a treat. The actors sing, dance and play their own instruments. They mix in a little slapstick and farce and hit the timing and the serious moments with equal facility.

They look good, too. It’s probably easier to dress a slim, pretty actress than the average modern bloke in ’60’s garb but Emily Thomas’ delightful costumes beautifully enhance all the characters.

It’s also nice to see people working on the expanse of the Court stage again. Tony Geddes’ set is nicely scaled so that we really feel we are inside the Ohoka Memorial Hall. It then cleverly opens out to reveal the exterior -cars and all. It’s a credit to the design that this significant change occurs several times and never once breaks the action. Sound and lighting design nicely complement these shifts.

If I ruled the world Creative NZ would be knocking on the Court’s door offering the funds to tour this production throughout the country. And I mean the real country – Gore, Whangarei, Levin and Westport. This is true community theatre in the very best sense of the expression. It reflects our culture with warmth and honesty and offers a little insight into the way we are.

I went on the notoriously difficult second night and the audience absolutely loved the show, responding to the point of offering advice to the characters at crucial moments. I think every one of us was felt a link to the action in some way. Is that not the purpose of theatre – to reflect our lives and connect us to each other?

Telly’s on the blink and the sprogs are driving you crazy? No worries. Grab the sheila or the old man, whip on your glad rags, take a squiz at the action at the Ohoka Memorial Hall. You’ll be home ‘n’ hosed.

[Flagons and Foxtrots is a re-named revival of Alison Quigan & Ross Gumbley’s The Newbury Hall Dances which premiered at Centrepoint in 1999 – Ed]


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