Athenaeum Theatre Basement, Dunedin

05/12/2014 - 07/12/2014

Production Details

Counterpoint is proud to present the world premiere of Grimey Times by Rosie Howells, a locally written comedy by one of New Zealands brightest up and coming playwrights.

Morris Grimes has had a successful career as the author of a series of horror novels for children, as well as its very successful TV spinoff Grimey Times. But Grimes is ready to take his career in a new direction and an Autobiography of his life seems just the way to do it. However, Morris Grimes has many quirks the most obvious being his penchant for stalking and unfortuantly it is the permission of those he has observed he needs to publish his book.

Grimey Times follows Grimes journey as he is confronted by those from in his past. This hilarious, yet often poignant and evocative, piece follows this journey while also highlighting many alienating aspects of our modern world.

This innovative production is a combination of theatre and film, presenting Grimes real world journey of meeting with those he has stalked while also interspersing filmic segements presenting episodes of his popular TV show Grimey Times.

This is a show not to be missed, a hilarious and innovative show written and produced in our fair city Dunedin.

5, 6 and 7th of December
at 7.30pm
Athenaeum Theatre
Tickets $15 Waged, $10 Unwaged

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Howells of laughter a joy

Review by Jennifer Aitken 06th Dec 2014

Local Dunedin Theatre Company Counterpoint are rounding off their 2014 Season with Grimey Times. Counterpoint’s dedication to supporting up-and-coming local theatre practitioners is outstanding and I really can’t endorse their work enough.

In true Counterpoint style Grimey Times is not only directed by and staring local talent but it is also penned by the youthful and skilled Dunedinite Rosie Howells. I first saw Howells’ work a couple of years ago and I am hugely impressed with the progress she has made with her writing in that time. Grimey Times is clever, funny and unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Grimey Times has a unique and intriguing narrative. They play follows millionaire children’s horror writer Morris Grimes as he confronts the demons from his past in order to embark upon the journey of writing his autobiography. Intercut throughout the narrative are scenes from a television adaptation of Grimes’ novels, Grimey Times; Howells’ establishes and then utilises this convention well. As Grimes comes face-to-face with individuals from his past and we learn about the circumstances of their relationships, our understanding is deepened through the clever mirroring of their stories within the filmed Grimey Times tales. 

Pleasingly, the filmed segments are of a phenomenally high standard. By collaborating with local filmmakers Bus of the Undead, Macdonald has managed to create and integrate the filmed sections into the wider play in a way that really lifts the whole piece. Clearly limited by their venue, Dunedin’s iconic and fittingly grimy Athenaeum Theatre, the overall production quality is enhanced by the immaculate production of the filmed pieces. It is obvious that a lot of time, energy and thought went into creating those episodes of Grimey Times, so much so that I almost expect them to pop up on my television screen at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon – they are really that good.

Back to the writing: Howells is a talented and clever writer. I believe wholeheartedly that she can, and will go a long way in this business. Howells has a knack for generating very unique narratives and characters and I urge you not to get too carried away by her quirky brand of comedy, there are some stunningly tailored lines in there. I can’t figure out a clever way to crowbar this line in to my review so I am just going to be blatant about it – this is my favourite line, delivered immaculately by McCarthy: “The best thing about being 17 – it’s temporary.” Bravo.

It is almost as if Howells possesses a superpower that allows her to recognise things hidden deep within the human psyche and then aptly express them in very clean, concise and clever ways. This is something I hope Howells continues to foster in her writing; it is the little gems like this that make her writing both relevant and real. Where I think Howells unfortunately falls down is in her desire to be funny. As a consequence of this her writing can at times appear self-conscious and forced. It need not be. Howells has the skill to create dialogue that is both real and naturally funny and if she can refrain from the desire to ‘[insert joke here]’ every few lines I think she will be a real force to be reckon with within the industry.  

The acting in Grimey Times is sound. I think McBryde, as the author Grimes, and Mayes, as his agent, would benefit from focusing more on each other instead of simply playing their lines for laughs. I find their initial scenes a little stilted as the jokes come thick and fast and the actors deliver them with such gusto that they don’t really leave themselves anywhere to go.

As an old classmate of Grimes’, McCarthy plays the character of Sam with perfect comic timing; something I have very much come to expect of him. McCarthy has a real knack for comedy and I think he delivers Howells’ unique brand of comedy well, he ‘gets’ her writing and I think he is excellently cast.

Most exciting, however, is Nell Guy’s performance. Guy treats us to a very genuine and touching performance as the mentally unstable Wanda Williams. Amongst the hubbub of actors all vying to deliver the best one-liner, Guy’s performance is refreshing and utterly believable. Guy really works to ground Grimey Times. Again, bravo.

Unfortunately Grimey Times has a very short season and there are only two remaining performances so there is no time to procrastinate over this one – just go! Go and support a local production. Go and support local actors. Go and discover for yourself the joy that is Rosie Howells. You will not regret it.

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