Repertory House, 167 Esk Street, Invercargill

04/05/2016 - 06/05/2016

Southland Festival of the Arts 2016

Production Details

Invercargill, 1965 and The Rolling Stones have just played what was for many a memorable concert. However in its wake, the infamous description of our beloved city as the “arsehole of the world” remains ringing in the ears of some citizens.

David Pottinger directs the World Premiere of local playwright Steven Page’s bitter-sweet play, produced by the Invercargill Repertory Society.

Repertory House, 101 Esk St, Invercargill 
Wed 4 – Sat 7 May 2016, 7.30pm
Adult $30.00
Child/School/Secondary/Tertiary $15.00
Concession Seniors $20.00

Warren: Nigel Edwards
Janice: Victoria Mills
Helen: Hannah McLeod
Craig: Joshua Harris
Ryan: Travis Oudhoff
Young Warren: Reuben Brown
Young Janice: Fliss Crossley-Pritchard

Assistant Director: Sophie Wornerm
Stage Manager: Jo Buist
Sound Technician: Patrick Horn
Lighting Technician: Hendrix Grant 

Theatre ,

Loud laughter ringing out frequently

Review by Chris Chilton 08th May 2016

It’s not every day Invercargill gets to host the world premiere of a play about Invercargill, more’s the pity. But still, this is a very entertaining way to remedy the situation. 

Fool To Cry is a notable and promising first play by adopted Southlander Steven Page, and it is tackled with energy and verve by a relatively green cast.  A story about making peace with the past, it’s a work with a massive heart and a lively tempo, and the relatively inexperienced cast kept the beat at a cracking pace. 

Witty, with a good number of laugh-out-loud comic gags, the scenes are snappy and short, with stage blackouts heralding each stanza. This is the new wave of repertory, written in byte-sized chunks for the YouTube generation. 

The play’s premise is based on a night that has become Invercargill’s ‘shameful secret’, when the then new band the Rolling Stones were pelted and booed off the stage at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill during a Harry M Miller Big Beat concert in 1965. The fans wanted to hear the dulcet tones of Roy Orbison and when the scruffy louts from London hit the stage with their noisy rhythm ’n’ blues the audience threw pies, lollies and verbal abuse, prompting Mick Jagger (or possibly Keith Richards, in reality) to later announce to international media that Invercargill was “the arsehole of the world”.

Forty years later, a committee is planning events to mark the 150th anniversary of the city of Invercargill, and one of the committee members has a vested interest in making sure remembering the Rolling Stones concert is part of the commemorations. 

In his early years, repressed and brow-beaten Warren (Nigel Edwards), who was a naive apprentice electrician at the time of the concert, had a crush on feisty Stones fan Janice (whose later-life self is played by Victoria Mills) which went unrequited due to the band’s early exit from the stage.

Now, Warren and Janice are both on the sesquicentennial committee. Warren’s feelings for Janice have been rekindled, but he is conflicted because his unhappy wife, former dance instructor Helen (Hannah McLeod) is also on the committee, keeping a dark and stormy eye on Warren’s clumsy attempts to re-engage with the blissfully unaware Janice, recently divorced and only interested in the committee’s overbearing chairman Craig, played with funny bureaucratic bombast by Joshua Harris.

Through a clever series of flashbacks, Warren and Janice’s backstory and their near-brush with the Rolling Stones is played out charmingly by young up-and-coming actors Reuben Brown and Fliss Crossley-Pritchard. Their awkward interaction is just lovely.

The committee is rounded out by Ryan (Travis Oudhoff); young, social media savvy, a bit nerdy and ultimately central to bridging the two parallel storylines in 1965 and 2004. While each of the actors has their moments to shine, Oudhoff’s hilarious Jagger routine near the end is the showstopper. 

Also memorable are McLeod’s two big scenes: Helen’s attempt to teach Ryan to dance like Mick Jagger (step/swivel/wrist) and her farcical bright-side take on the convicted baby killer Minnie Dean story, presented in lusty panto-style song and dance. 

Newcomer Edwards does well in his first lead role, carrying a major share of the dialogue and this successful production will serve him well in future roles, as he loosens into each new character.

The vastly experienced Mills is the fulcrum in this show, a calm and steady centre to the deliberately chaotic dialogue and action around her.  Her stagecraft is impeccable and comes easily.

The final-night audience responded well to Fool To Cry, with loud laughter ringing out frequently and warm applause at the end of every scene. Playwright Page will be happy with Invercargill Repertory’s vigorous reading of his work, which received a highly commended rating at the 2016 Adam NZ Play Awards. 

While the subject is very Invercargill-centric, the play has broad humorous appeal and could travel well.


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