Irrepressible Urge

BATS Theatre, Wellington

23/02/2010 - 25/02/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

Directed by Brooke Smith-Harris
Devised by the cast

Quite Sensible

What would humanity be without stories?

From imaginary friends to world-changing news; old wives’ tales to religious texts, the irrepressible human urge to tell stories is inescapable. 

In Irrepressible Urge, four tales entwine, exploring different aspects of storytelling. A princess and a dragon form a bond over a cup of tea. A voyeur takes pleasure from the stories surrounding him. Two strangers realise the impact of the past; while a family struggle to determine their roles in their own life stories.

Quite Sensible has created a piece of theatre which explores the actors’ medium of storytelling and investigates our global dependence on stories. By observing how stories teach us about our world, we understand that, no matter what the medium or the situation, every event in every person’s life is influenced by and creates a story. Irrepressible Urge allows the audience to indulge in their instinctive curiosity about others.

Formed in 2009, Quite Sensible is made up of graduates of Victoria University’s Theatre programme. Their debut show Technology Cried was a colourful, physical celebration of the Red Mole theatre company. “We as human beings love a good story, and I wanted to explore the impact of stories on our lives,” says director Brooke Smith-Harris. “Connection and communication are crucial elements of both life and storytelling, and in Irrepressible Urge we explore these elements through heartfelt performances and recognisable characters.” Irrepressible Urge promises to continue Quite Sensible’s tradition of vibrant, charismatic theatre.

With Jackson Coe (Henry V), Sam Ennor (Painted Rain), Aimee-Lyn Marshall (Happy Birthday Mister Deka D), Barry Lakeman (Familiar Strangers), Kirsty McGuire (Technology Cried), Tamsin Dashfield (Technology Cried), Karin Reinholt (Journey to the West), Marjorie McKee (Beckoning of Hope) and Sahra Smith (Oliver).

Irrepressible Urge
8pm, 22nd – 25th February
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
What would humanity be without stories? 

Devised and performed by Jackson Coe, Sam Ennor, Aimee-Lyn Marshall, Barry Lakeman, Kirsty McGuire, Tamsin Dashfield, Karin Reinholt, Marjorie McKee) and Sahra Smith

Costume design for the dragon by Katharina Paetzold and Anna Bailey

Enchanting, unnerving, moving …

Review by Lynn Freeman 03rd Mar 2010

Irrepressible Urge is another devised show with four parallel stories told in cut up bits.

One takes a fresh look at the traditional dragon vs princess fairytale, with an enchanting performance by Barry Lakeman as the aged dragon.

Even more gripping is Jackson Coe’s leap into the mind of a peeping tom which is in equal measure unnerving and moving.

The third story takes place in a second hand bookshop, where Sam Ennor and Aimee-Lynn Marshall play two lonely hearts which should beat as one if they ever decide to choose reality over fantasy.

The fourth, about two half sisters who have the hots for each other, is not nearly as successful as the others.


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Telling tales

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 25th Feb 2010

At the start of Irresistible Urge the cast is seen reading and at the side of the stage is a huge stack of books of all shapes and sizes. The best way to explore this urge to tell stories, to listen to stories, to act out stories and to imagine ourselves in a story is, of course, to perform some.

The nine actors tell four stories but each character has his or her relationship to storytelling and stories. Scott (Jackson Coe in a brilliant and creepily funny performance) is a Peeping Tom who in his accounts of following girls home and peering into a girls’ changing room makes us almost sympathetic to his urge but he makes us voyeurs too.

Laurie (Sam Ennor) runs a second-hand bookshop in a manner akin to Basil Fawlty and his only friend is his cat who pisses on his books but he has a client in Angelique (Aimee-Lynn Marshall) whose shyness drives her into romantic daydreams, which seems odd in that she reads The Handmaid’s Tale.

Then there’s a story about a dragon (a green-faced Barry Lakeman in a magnificent costume) and a princess (Kirsty McGuire) that deconstructs the children’s fairy tale, while the Woodward sisters (Tasmin Dashfield, Karin Reinholt) are two very different peas in a pod; one lives through her connection to others through the net, Facebook, twitter, etc, the other who gets confused in life by imagining it is literature.

They all have happy endings – of sorts.


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A ‘scan read’ of the roles stories play in our lives

Review by John Smythe 24th Feb 2010

Storytelling is a particularly human preoccupation that permeates our lives more than we may realise. It comes in many forms, styles and genres, which may offer us the means of escape, access to ‘truth’ or both, simultaneously.

The ‘Quite Sensible’ co-op, directed by Brooke Smith-Harris, has devised a series of stories about stories that mostly start in the escapist realm and work through to some kind of ‘reality’.

Stack of books adorn the stage (set design by Matt Bialostocki, lit by Tamsin Dashfield) and initially people we will come to know better lie, sit and stand about reading …

Jackson Coe’s story is surprisingly engaging given his character, Scott, is compulsive prowler, stalker and peeping Tom. Eventually we discover why he has abandoned the usual routes to companionship, intimacy and sexual pleasure. In the process of his telling his story, he becomes self aware – a little too neatly, perhaps – and is able to ‘move on’.

An ancient and legendary dragon, wonderfully realised by Barry Lakeman – in an excellent outfit (costume design credited to  Katharina Paetzold and Anna Bailey) – is found by Kirsty McGuire’s rather passive warrior princess, Catherine. She turns out to be feeling guilty about her mindless fidelity to conditioned beliefs about what’s needed for her to fulfil her destiny. In the end, this story is about forgiveness and personal responsibility.

Two very different sisters, Jess (Tamsin Dashfield) and Lucy (Karin Reinholt), and their half-sister Regina (Sahra Smith), have an Aunt Z (Marjorie McKee) in common, who travels the world and writes stories of her adventures in a journal. But Jess is bored with her camel tales while compulsively texting to her blog, twitter, facebook and flicker accounts.

The more sophisticated and dreamy Lucy, who has escaped NZ and returned,  draws her world view from Shakespeare’s Dark Lady sonnets and is deeply attracted to Regina (“OMG,” twitters Jess, “can half-sisters be lovers? Gross!”). Regina, who throws a die to determine who and how to be, since “the accident” (unspecified) reciprocates. But maybe Lucy would rather pine for it than let it happen …

The second-hand bookstore is run by the shambling Laurie (Sam Ennor), who has a ‘fuck buddy’ and a problematical peeing tomcat, and is grudgingly kind to the excruciatingly awkward Ange (Aimee-Lynn Marshall). She is in unrequited love with Mark, doubled by Ennor in beautifully sung musical fantasy sequences in which he and Angelique declare their everlasting love. The more realistic resolution to this relationship is as sweet as it is predictable.

As a theatre piece Irrepressible Urge could have gone deeper and darker and been more dramatic. As a quick ‘scan read’ of a few of the many ways stories inform our lives, however, it offers an intriguing ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ hour.

Barry Lakeman as the dragon


John Smythe February 24th, 2010

PS: I should have noted that all the characters in all the stories are acting on irrepressible urges – even the Dragon, whose urge is to lead a quiet life.  Well conceived.  

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