High School Magical THE REUNION
BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
23/07/2019 - 27/07/2019
Prepare to be Charmed
“Over the last few years, Playshop has emerged as wellington’s most innovative improvisation company” – Theatreview
Everyone would rather forget their awkward time at Spellington College of the Magical Arts, but the ten year reunion threatens to cast new spells and open old secrets. Magical improvised comedy from the company that brought you Game of Things, Riddiford Street and the award winning 10 Things I Hate About Us.
BATS Theatre The Random Stage
23 – 27 July 2019
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15
Group 6+ $15
The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.
Class of 2009 Witches and Wizards:
Professor Ashley Murtatroyd Clive Burton: Jonny Paul
Penumbra Chickweed: Alayne Dick
Eliza Wishkosh: Katrina Rumabl
Professor Ficulus Twiddletwig: Jed Davies
Hayley rose dyer: Gabby Anderson
Leonardo penguin: Sam Irwin
Music by Ben Kelly
With support from:
Directed by Jonny Paul
Assistant Direction from Lori Leigh
Produced by Beth Taylor
Stage managed by Olivia Flanagan
Lighting Design by Jasmine Bryham and Olivia Flanagan
Set Design By Lucas Neal
Operated by Jasmine Bryham
Production mentor by Sam Tippet
Theatre , Improv ,
The PlayShop team proves yet again what wizards they are at this improv lark
Review by John Smythe 24th Jul 2019
Reunions are a potent premise for bringing a diverse range of characters together who share a past but have gone their own ways since. In the case of High School Magical THE REUNION, this is the 10 year reunion for the Class of 2009.
Director Jonny Paul, who conjured up the charming idea of Spellington College of the Magical Arts and personifies Professor Ashley Murtatroyd Clive Burton, welcomes us to this never-before-seen and never-to-be-seen-again hour of improv and draws three ‘ask fors’ from the highly receptive opening night audience of Muggles (a basic awareness of Harry Potter terminology and tropes helps).
Having frowned upon “girls” as a favourite subject at school, Prof Burton accepts “History”. He also accepts, as something essential for a good party, “Everyone having a good time,” which seems a bit amorphous at first but, given the issues, traumas and mischievous ‘spellings’ that arise as the reunion proceeds, it becomes a significant goal to achieve, as a happy ending, at least.
The rest of the cast introduces themselves (lower case surnames as per the programme) – the core cast:
Alayne Dick as Penumbra Chickweed,
Katrina Rumbal as Eliza Wishkosh,
Jed Davies as Professor Ficulus Twiddletwig,
Gabby Anderson as Hayley rose dyer,
Sam Irwin as Leonardo penguin;
and the guest cast:
Pippa Drakeford-Croad as Maude McGill,
Stevie Hancox-Monk as Dolly,
Nina Hogg as Tina Tightbottom,
Maria Williams as Professor (something unpronounceable so it becomes Smith).
An audience member is asked to point to the person who … And here I am not quite sure whether they will defeat an overwhelming darkness in the coming scenario or whether that’s what they did 10 years ago. But anyway Leonardo penguin gets the nod and the mark upon his forehead.
The initial scenes are quite static as the characters meet in groups and exchange establishing offers about who they are and were, and what has happened since. A bit more volume from some would be appreciated in the conversational huddles.
Stevie Hancox-Monk brings a welcome physicality to her frog-loving, blunt-talking Dolly. Pippa Drakeford-Croad’s doddery Maude McGill makes a strong offer as the school’s Sexual Health Educator and soon sets something in train by revealing she has recognised someone whose presence has deep implications concerning what I take to be a past indiscretion. The discovery, down the track, that Dolly is Maude’s daughter is beautifully staged with a song that mashes up opera (Pippa) and contemporary (Stevie). Ben Kelly is a wizard on keys.
Meanwhile a vexed relationship involving an unsuccessful marriage between Nina Hogg’s Tina Tightbottom and Sam Irwin’s Leonardo penguin emerges, which provokes a realisation in Katrina Rumbal’s Eliza Wishkosh that she is never invited to anything – and this bitterness motivates much of the darkness that begins to envelop the occasion.
Alayne Dick’s Penumbra Chickweed muses on the strange way us Muggles travel on busses; Maria Williams’ Italian Professor Smith (see above) frowns upon the predominance and men in the Muggle history books Prof Burton has exhumed. Jean d’Arc gets a mention, therefore – and I feel more could have been done with Leonardo’s offer that she was burned as a witch.
Three women play Truth or Spell. A karaoke scene evolves. Eliza leads a party through a secret passages. Some lose their autonomy by becoming automatons. Everyone contributes, both through making offers and building on the offers of others.
Eventually the various plotlines seem to either dangle or tangle … yet, as if by magic – indeed by the casting of spells by the wand-wielding cast – it all builds to a dramatic climax and a satisfying denouement. Maude McGill facilitates the welcoming of the excluded Eliza Wishkosh back into the fold and observes that Muggle history is full of alienated individuals who have lashed out in anger. The truism is thus proved that those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.
Lighting operator Jasmine Byrham has been compassionately ruthless on the dimmers, sensing when it’s time to end a scene and move on to the next. The PlayShop team proves yet again what wizards they are at this improv lark.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Maria WILLIAMS July 24th, 2019
The name became Smith when I was told to 'reveal myself' so revealed I'm not Italian. I then had to quickly think up a very common, boring name but thought Williams would be too real so instead chose that of my scene partners!!
John Smythe July 24th, 2019
Thanks Maria - correction made on the latter point. As for the other - how tragic 'Smith' was resorted to (as confirmed by your producer). But it was, and thank you for clarifying why.
Maria WILLIAMS July 24th, 2019
Also, I didn't talk about Busses lol, I think that was Alayne Dick, people get us confused a lot
Maria WILLIAMS July 24th, 2019
Thank you for coming to review John. I don't know how you could've possibly missed it but my character was Professora Delisimo 'Delsi' Garbanza-Darbanza! Grazi.