Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

07/03/2012 - 10/03/2012

Production Details

A collaboration between Holly Chappell, graduating Masters of Directing student and outstanding New Zealand playwright Jo Randerson.

IF YOU ONLY SEE ONE SHOW IN YOUR LIFE is action packed, innovative, thrilling, heart breaking, hilarious, breath taking, mind blowing, chilling, deep, provocative, an emotional roller coaster. A never to be seen again, once in a life time experience. It will leave you wanting more.

When: March 1,2,3 | 7,8,9,10 at 7.30pm each night
Where: Te Whaea theatre,11 Hutchison Road,Newtown,Wellington

Ticket prices: $15 adults | $10 concession: students, seniors | $8 toi grads 


Thomas Eason, Chris Parker, Tai Berdinner Blades, Alice Canton, Andrew Paterson.

Designer: Lucy Stone 
Lighting Designer: Hamish Baxter 
Sound Designer: Thomas Eason

Production and Stage Manager: Karena Lathem 

Promising theatre becomes gut-bustingly funny

Review by Michael Gilchrist 08th Mar 2012

If you only see one show in your life is an enquiry into the promises a theatrical event makes to its audience – including the big one, that it will “change your life” – and how willingly we conspire, as an audience, to make our wishes come true.

It nicely ensnares the key gestures of a range of theatrical styles of our time – physical theatre, theatre of the absurd, circus, performance art, conceptual art, monologue, everything in fact, including the kitchen sink. It does an excellent job of asking us questions about how we receive those gestures. And often it deploys its questions in a surprisingly elegant and co-ordinated fashion in theatrical space. 

The enquiry is structured around two sides of the same coin: the emptiness we fill, willingly or not, with our imagination; and the intolerable plenitude of theatre when it is determined to overwhelm our imagination with its own reality. The set and lighting design capture these two values perfectly with its giant balloons, enigmatic master signifiers suspended amongst cool cones and spheres of light.

The show itself is like a recollection of many shows – many tips without an iceberg. Each is competing for our emotional dollar, each for purposes of its own.

Directed by Holly Chappell, a Master of Theatre Arts student at Toi Whakaari, it is an ideal show for students because their driven, bursting-with-talent charisma adds another level of irony to the many on display. Strange for example, how saying you are doing something in the theatre is so much like actually doing it – even when you don’t. Like making a promise. The audience still comes to the party. And the wonderfully ingenuous compere, a determined enthusiast who ultimately must destroy her own creation, makes for rich comic counterpoint.  

If you only see one show in your life is like all the shows you have seen in your life and none of them at all. It is not easy making theatre about theatre like this: it’s satire but with a high-minded seriousness that makes the last fifteen minutes, when it switches from famine to feast, all the more cathartically, gut-bustingly, funny.  It’s a really memorable passage of theatre ruthlessly reminding us of what gluttons for punishment, how incorrigibly enthralled with performance we humans are.

Great to see work like this being made: well done to all.


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