Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

13/10/2020 - 17/10/2020

Production Details

An intimate evening with your destruction.
An acid infused, f-the-system riot about climate change. 

2030, Rotorua. Aotearoa is facing the worst heat wave it has even seen. Members of Kaitiaki Taonga, Aotearoa’s leading climate change action group, are gathering for their final meeting before the end of the year, but Hine has other plans.

Hearing the news that the government is scheming to undo three years of the group’s hard work, Hine is tipped over the edge, determined to take a monumental stand against the government. What ensues is an acid infused, f-the-system riot.

Heatwave. An intimate evening with your destruction. Heatwave is here to blow apart the exasperation felt by us – millennials trying to make the best of our battered inheritance. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. 

Created by Grace Augustine, Heatwave features an incredible cast of makers including Alice Pearce, Bronwyn Ensor, Hakaia Daly, Sam Goodger, Alex Tunui, Matiu Kereama, Shaan Kesha and Georgina Briggs, as well as musician Chris Marshall.

Basement Theatre, Auckland
13 Oct – 17 Oct 2020
Price: $15 – $35
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Lock-out: Please arrive 15 minutes before show start time. Latecomers admitted into the theatre at Basement’s discretion – no refunds will be given.

Trigger warnings: This show contains references to drug use, mental health and suicide. This show also contains the use of prop weapons.

Theatre ,

1 hr

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Review by Erin O'Flaherty 15th Oct 2020

It’s no coincidence that two works responding to the climate crisis, Heatwave and Our Modern Earth, have been programmed one after the other in Basement’s Reunited season. The effects of human-made climate change are increasingly apparent, and young people are all too aware that we are out of time. It’s election season – and this election feels more important than ever. First up, Heatwave, created by Grace Augustine, takes us to a dystopian Rotorua in 2030 where the climate change action group Kaitiaki Taonga is gathering for its final meeting of the year.

We are introduced to our ensemble of characters, including an ex-miner with a secret drug problem (Shaan Kesha), a mother with a PhD (Bronwyn Ensor), an ex-marine (Georgina Briggs) and a social media influencer (Hakaia Daly/Emily Hurley). We are also introduced to the work’s cacophonous style – conversations break out all across the stage as the characters greet each other. Our focus flits around, trying to soak it all in. It is a tone of naturalism, delivered beautifully by the strong and cohesive cast, yet it also establishes a kind of sensory overwhelm that follows the show to its conclusion. [More]


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A shame it’s still necessary now, let alone in 2030

Review by Nik Smythe 15th Oct 2020

Between the facing traverse-style seating, a natural wood coffee table and eight mismatched dining chairs foreshadow the ensuing meeting. The refreshments table by the wall has a jug, some beers and a group photo, with a number of placards piled underneath and some on display proclaiming “Save the Earth!”, “Honour te Tiriti” and the like. 

One large banner identifies the convening group and the year in which this fly-on-the-wall real-time drama is set – “Kaitiaki Taonga 2030”. The local (Rotorua) activist group has been championing the ecology of their land since they formed ten years earlier, presumably in the wake of the 2020 election.

First to arrive is Bevan (Shaan Kesha), who helps himself to a beer and drops some sort of medication into it, indicating a troubled psyche. Next is newcomer Moss (Emily Hurley), a recently exploded (in the social media sense) online spokesperson for the extent and urgency of the global environmental crisis.

Others file in, the bubbly Beatrice (Bronwyn Ensor), politically by-the-book Cass (Alice Pearce), reluctant chairman-type Cole (Sam Goodger), forthright dogsbody Jaimee (Georgina Briggs) and amiably irritating just-back-from-Nepal jokester Jerry (Matiu Kereama). Eighth member, the militant Tino-Rangatira activist complete with black beret Hine (Alex Tunui), is running late.

A substantial degree of the scenario and plot are gleaned from reading the promotional blurb and extrapolating what we can from the naturalistic discussions had between the group’s members, often several at a time, so we have to choose which to focus on. 

The real crux of the performance comes from each character’s monologue addressed directly to the audience, highlighting their own personal concerns, motives and agendas. In some instances, accompanied by the remaining cast’s abstract physical chorus-work, this effectively illustrates the spectrum of points of view that can lead a diverse range of peoples to unite in a common cause. Inevitably I find myself relating to and/or agreeing with some characters more than others.  

The action is enhanced by Zane Allen’s lighting and visual projections shifting between realism and stylisation, and augmented by Chris Marshall’s underpinning musical score, ranging from ambient to intense and threatening, seasoned with the odd folk guitar strum.

A couple of points distract a little. Will Instagram really still be the predominant platform for influencers a decade from now? Possible I suppose. For me the more serious detail is the claim that the country is experiencing a record heatwave, as asserted in the promo and supported by the title. There is little sense that these folk are experiencing excessive heat – they all wear long pants, nobody behaves uncomfortably warm or mentions anything to that effect or even sweats (until the second half for … other reasons).

I can’t help feeling that a dramatic focus on the overbearing temperature would greatly increase the visceral effect of the overall work, if you’ll forgive the director’s note. As it is, our engagement is largely curiosity and extrapolation of plot at first, until said second-half events kick everything into crazy gear which I won’t spoil with any further description. 

All in all, a good effort, largely well performed and leaving us with things to think about. My companion finds it cynical and nihilistic, lacking any positive solutions or suggestions. The abrupt conclusion does imply a sense of defeatist resignation, yet I don’t personally feel a play has a mandate to provide answers, particularly to such huge existential questions. As long as a conversation ensues then hope and/or solutions may be found there; just because a story’s character gives up, it doesn’t mean we need to.

I remember doing this sort of devised eco-warrior agit-prop theatre thirty-odd years ago. It is a shame it’s still necessary, and apparently will be a decade from now.


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