Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

22/11/2006 - 25/11/2006

Production Details

written by patrick graham

an existential musical comedy

iS, an existential musical comedy written by patrick graham, explores the disintegration of a young actress (issy) when an irresponsible director (joan) slowly peels away her sense of “self”. Mixing literary reference, song, dance and black comedy, iS will be an eclectic moving experience. Set in Issy’s flat, Issy’s flatmate Joshua and her girlfriend Jordan spiral downward with her through her layers.

Issy iS an actress
Issy iS depressed
Issy iS narcissistic
Issy iS in love with Jordan…
But Issy doesn’t really know who she iS.

iS was devised by patrick graham in a collection of thoughts, scenes, songs and poems exploring how the performance of a character can affect an actors mind by unwrapping the process he went through in his portrayal of the Character “A” in Sarah Kanes “Crave” in 2002.

iS draws inspiration from theatre works written by Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Martin Crimp – with smatterings of Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett and T S Elliot.

Over the past three years iS has been developed in a series of workshops and performances. In 2003 as a free workshop presentation held at the Auckland University Drama Studio. In 2005 at the Wine Cellar on K’Rd – a sold out and extended season. iS has now been accepted as part of the STAMP creative development programme and will be performed at The Herald Theatre in November 2006.

Issy: Madeleine Hyland
Joshua: Xavier Hornblow
Jordan: Eve Gordon
Joan: Kirsty Hamilton
Expensive HiFi: Nisha Madhan

Assistant Director: Thomas Sainsbury
Producer: Kristin Malcolm
Sound/Music: Nisha Madhan
Stage Manager: Catherine McHattie
Publicity: Julia Holmes
Poster/Image Design: Eve Gordon
Sound/Music: Nisha Madhan
Sound: Paul Letham
Lighting: Square (Lee Yee Yang)
Costumes: Eve Gordon
Props: Kristin Malcolm
Financial Consultant: Andrew Merrie
Set Design: patrick graham
Set Artist: Marie Kyle

Theatre ,

groundbreaking and genre-defying

Review by Kathryn van Beek 23rd Nov 2006

In every aspect of the production of iS, there is something beautiful and something unsettling. Depending on your viewpoint this is either a distraction, or proof that iS truly is a work of art.

Writer/director Patrick Graham has successfully created a world for his characters to inhabit. From the quirky set and costumes to the often hilarious songs that accompany the performance, each detail is distinctly iS.

The walls are beautifully painted with Misery-esque figures by artist Marie Kyle. The bright clutter that fills the rest of the stage is a welcome antidote to the pared-back deign that currently seems so fashionable in theatre.

From our first glimpse of the set and the shock of the opening song, which warns "don’t expect a three-act structure", we know that iS is going to be something different.

Themes of longing, depression and the barren emotional landscape of modern life are played out against the backdrop of the central character’s breakdown. Anyone who has read ‘Crave’ by Sarah Kane may be interested in how an actor might react to rehearsing such an intense piece, and in iS, vulnerable young drama school graduate Issy (Madeline Hyland) takes the dark themes too much to heart. Her plight isn’t helped by the irresponsible director Joan (Kirsty Hamilton), who believes that great theatre can only spring from cruelty, and actively assists Issy’s gradual loss of identity.

There is a warmth beneath the dark themes which is well communicated by the engaging actors. The raw, cringingly clingy Jordan (Eve Gordan) and the endearing Joshua (Xavier Hornblow) who goes into way too much detail about his sex life, are both achingly real. Kirsty Hamilton really gets to shine as the deranged Joan in some great scenes in the latter half of the play, notably the ‘seduction’ scene.

Through the madness it is ironically the damaged Issy who grounds the action. Hyland’s convincing performance and outstanding singing voice are highlights of the show. (Another highlight is ‘the radio’, played by the very talented Nisha Madhan.)

Although iS has its flaws, it is also a groundbreaking and genre-defying work filled with possibilities. Truly theatre for young people, iS is also Patrick Graham’s best work to date, and bodes well for his future as a writer and director.


John Smythe January 15th, 2007

While theatreview does not wish to vet or censor comments - we'd rather diverse views and disagreements were exchanged via the site - I would like to encourage constructive , well argued input. A negative dumping that includes no arguments supporting that view reflects more poorly on the dumper than on the show in question, I reckon.

Malcolm Leys-Greenwood December 26th, 2006

I saw IS on the EDGE's "Pay as you like" night. What I endured was a painful, self-indulgent piece of under-developed Stage 3 Theatre studies final project. Needless to say, I didn't drop a cent into the hat.

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