Lost Girls

BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/02/2007 - 01/03/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Written by Patrick Graham
Directed by Thomas Sainsbury


T: He said, “Your mummy knows me”. It looked like mummy’s car.

M: He didn’t look like the type of guy that would do that.

K: I knew mine. He had a van.

Lost Girls is a beautiful, contained, one-hour play. It follows three everyday girls as they go about their everyday business – not the stuff of drama, you may think – but there is something else present within the play.  There is an underlying tinge of foreboding and uneasiness, the sense that we are heading towards something that we really don’t want to reach. Yet at the same time we are desperate to see how things turn out.

Lost Girls is the story of three girls who all succumb to the same tragic fate.

Inspired by the true-life abductions of several of New Zealand’s young women, Lost Girls follows T, M and K, (performed by Kirsty Hamilton, Eve Gordon and Yvette Parsons) through their final days before they disappear forever.

Lost Girls is an original work by a New Zealand writer Patrick Graham, and was written in response to the growing number of women reporting domestic violence abuse and rape. For years, Patrick was concerned about the number of young women that disappeared in New Zealand. What also concerned him was the number of unsolved cases there are.

“You would think that because New Zealand is such a small country someone, somewhere must know what happened? Do we just turn a blind eye to what is happening?”

He wanted to explore the sense of loss these girls create in people’s lives. How it feels to have someone taken from you at an early age. The characters are very loosely based on well-known murder victims to give them a familiarity and universality. These girls could be your sister, cousin or your next-door neighbour.

Lost Girls will be directed by Thomas Sainsbury, who started his creative career with playwrighting and has had three plays workshopped through Playmarket’s Young Playwright competition.

Performed by:
Kirsty Hamilton
Eve Gordon
Yvette Parsons

Theatre ,

1 hr

Worthy play

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 03rd Mar 2007

Lost Girls is a play with a message: ‘we need to look out for ourselves and each other’. It was written in response to the appalling record this country has of domestic violence, rape, child abuse and the often unsolved murders and disappearance of young women.

Three young actors – Eve Gordon, Kirsty Hamilton, and Elizabeth Tierney – play the three victims as well as the mothers, brothers, aunties, and friends of the families that surround them. The action cuts from one story to the next in simply constructed, predictable scenes that slowly build to the point when the young women disappear.

Lost Girls reminded me of the worthy plays about drink driving, drugs, suicide, smoking and other topical subjects that used to tour secondary schools in order to stimulate debate and discussion in General or Liberal Studies classes.
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Hard to get hooked

Review by John Smythe 25th Feb 2007

Before Patrick Graham’s Lost Girls – directed by Thomas Sainsbury – starts, you have to know that it is about girls who have been abducted and murdered or remain on the missing list. Otherwise the everyday banality of the scenarios played out by three hard working and very capable multi role-playing actresses – Eve Gordon, Kirsty Hamilton, Elizabeth Tierney – is at risk of seeming just that: banal.

The complete lack of a programme does not help, although I don’t believe reading programme notes, or the promo blurb in the Fringe brochure, should be a pre-requisite for watching a play. I do come to it forewarned and fore-armed. Even so, that basic principle of entering the universe of the play on its own terms – intuitively embraced by most audience members, I believe – is not conducive to my telling myself to add that crucial ingredient as I watch the scenes unfold.

Perhaps if they started with the tableau and statements that end the play, so that we have a perspective from which to view what follows, we’d be more engaged by it:
T:  He said, “Your mummy knows me”. It looked like mummy’s car.
M: He didn’t look like the type of guy that would do that.
K:  I knew mine. He had a van.

“T” is a six year-old-girl who is having to learn her younger brother is entitled to things she’s not. Because Dad’s had to take “Mummy’s car” to get to work early, she has to walk to school …

“M” is a young woman from Wellington staying with her straight-laced maiden aunt in Hastings and wanting to go to a party in Napier. But because she has not been wise with her money, her aunt won’t lend her the fare, so she hitch-hikes …

“K” has had the dirty done on her by a her bogan boyfriend and the girl she thought was her best friend, so when another guy cruises by in his flash shaggin’ wagon and makes her feel wanted …

The play offers a variety of girls and women: the fast-learning innocent, the struggling mother, the low self-esteem teenagers craving acceptance, the moral custodian … The boys and men we see are all sociopathic predators – fully fledged or in the making – so it is reasonable to suppose the perpetrators of the looming crimes are more of the same.

While I can see the thinking behind it, the script as it stands feels over-written. Or maybe it’s all the chopping and changing of characters, in and out of the scenarios being revealed in parallel (although they are based on real cases in different eras of our history), that mitigates against our getting hooked.

That we finish none-the-wiser as to what has finally happened, let alone how or why – beyond the proposition that all men are bastards – also makes Lost Girls less than satisfying from an audience perspective.


ribaldcritic July 19th, 2007

Women face sexist backlash By PATRICK CREWDSON - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 19 July 2007 Women may have claimed some top jobs but worsening domestic violence and a sexist backlash show they still face discrimination, a New Zealand delegation will tell the United Nations. To read more, go to: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4132431a6000.html

Seth Simmons June 8th, 2007

I had seen this play last year when it was presented as a reading as part of the Smackbang one-act play competition (and was pretty astonished when it wasn't selected for production given its quality). Of course, at that point it was a half-hour piece, but mostly the extensions I saw in the current season were well done and fleshed out the characters a great deal more than had been previously possible. However, and here is the point of this post, the new additions that were clearly a result of the Wellington season - or, rather, the review of the Wellington season - stood out like a sore thumb as being considerably weaker than the rest of the play, and quite obviously tacked on (whether you'd read the director's note or not) - so there was no improvement to the play as a result of it being reviewed, it had simply changed. This isn't the reviewer's fault, of course, but why would this one person's opinion carry more weight than anybody else's? Did the playwright really not encounter any other feedback that he considered of value? I don't think John Smythe would change his opinion of the message the play presented even with the changes made so what's the point? If there's a coherent question in here somewhere I guess it's 'What does it take to provoke a playwright to change something for the better?' and what role does the reviewer play in this?

Michael Wray June 6th, 2007

I just saw Lost Girls in Auckland at the Herald Theatre, not having had the opportunity to see it in Wellington. With the full width of the shallow Herald stage being used, I wonder how it was presented at Bats. The cast for this production are Eve Gordon, Kirsty Hamilton, Sarah Thomson (presumably replacing Elizabeth Tierney) and Natalie-Jane Morris (new addition). It is also directed by playwright Patrick Graham instead of Thomas Sainsbury. The play works quite well, but feels disjointed for the first few scenes at the start and takes a little while to get going. I don't recall whether the closing statements are the same as those that opened the play - I should have read John's review *before* going instead of after - but we do start with the closing setting before going in to the action itself. The Angel character, which sounds as if it is an addition since the Wellington run, is very passive. As a constant throughout the various scenes, she serves to act as the common thread. The Director's notes say that her role is to manage the memories of the girls and control their environments - a method to help the show flow. I would have preferred a way of making Angel more involved somehow - something beyond playing Girlie the dog or the man with the flask. Towards the final "abduction" Angel is almost present as K's murderer. Perhaps developing that aspect would provide a stronger interaction by offering her as both the girls' angel and devil. Not that it's for me to tell the playwright how to do his job - I'm just a sucker for that sort of duality. Anyway, I thought it was interesting to read the credits to find thanks to "John Smythe for provoking me to change the script." And within the Director's Note, "The difference between this and the Wellington season is the script. I responded to the criticism of the season in Wellington. John Smythe will be pleased to hear that I attempted to remove what he referred to as 'all men are bastards'. That was never intended in the script. I couldn't help that all the people that are suspected of the murders are male." There was a scene in the play titled "not all men are bastards" that I imagine must not have existed before. Here, M is accosted on the roadside by an old man concerned for her safety and who gives her a flask of stew. It didn't feel all that authentic, like it was trying too hard, though perhaps my awareness of that was raised by the Director's Note alluding to addressing the "all men are bastards" idea. I felt the same about Girlie the talking Dog pointing out to K that Uncle Paul was a nice man despite being a man. Overall, drawing parallels to the original review, I can say that this production of the play does not end with us questioning the how or why. Once we get past the first few scenes and having performed the set-up and establishment of key characters, it flows quite well. The three actresses move in and out of their multiple roles well, distinguising each without it feeling like a resort to stereotypes. I would just have liked to see Angel given a more weighty presence.

International Maven March 1st, 2007

A good solid play, which I enjoyed. The script was well done, but it's hard to put a finger on why the play didn't quite come together. Perhaps it was all the scene changing, which was often confusing. Or perhaps the direction could have pulled things together more firmly. Or maybe playing so many roles prevented the actors from really 'being' in their main role. I look forward to seeing this play produced again, hopefully with a little more direction.

patrick graham February 26th, 2007

thanks for the review john. i was aware that this would be the reaction. i was striving towards the ordinary to make the girls seem like people we all know. unfortunatly the actors are working with a very early draft and the director did not include me in the rehearsal change so i could make chenges as that process went. When I was finnally able to see the play I was quite destress.

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