Lovers of Central Park

Central Park, Wellington

07/02/2007 - 24/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Written by James Hadley
Directed : L’hibou Hornung, Harriette Cowan, Kate Tarrant, Andrew Mackenzie and James Hadley


Experience the most romantic show in the Fringe Festival

Like fairy tale journeys into the woods, this guided summertime walk takes you through Brooklyn’s Central Park, revealing an amorous montage of lovers from throughout the Park’s history.

From a nineteenth century Māori couple to a Victorian gentleman’s indiscretions with the Irish maid; the flirtations of an American serviceman with a Brooklyn shopgirl to an elderly couple avoiding a flu pandemic by living rough in the Park.

“I find the dramatic atmosphere of Central Park very inspiring’ says writer and co-director James Hadley. ‘There is a sense of dark pasts hiding beside sun-filled presents which makes it perfect for an exploration of lovers’ affairs. The actors have responded strongly to the Park in rehearsals, turning it into a lovers’ playground of secrets and seductions which will surround the audience on their journey.

We hope this production will entice Wellingtonians back into this neglected inner city green space, to experience the thrilling journey we have prepared for them.”

This romantic journey stars a cast of over 20 talented Wellingtonians, and is directed by five graduates of the Masters course in Directing: L’hibou Hornung, Harriette Cowan, Kate Tarrant, Andrew Mackenzie and James Hadley.

The path will be uphill at times, like any romance, with drama, revelations and laughter along the journey. Sensible shoes recommended!


Skunk -- Simon Smith
Hilda -- Karen Anslow
Saskia -- Kate McGill
Directed by L'hibou Hornung, Harriette Cowan & James Hadley

Te Manukorihi -- Rapai Te Hau
Te Kanawa -- Jade Daniels
Harold -- Daniel Price
Rosemary -- Willow Newey
Directed by Andrew Mackenzie
Co-written, translated and dramaturged by Teurikore Biddle

1896 Poetry
Readers -- Luke Hawker, Belinda Bretton, Fiona Jagose, Martyn Wood
Directed by James Hadley

Colleen -- Willow Newey
Maurice -- Daniel Price
Directed by Kate Tarrant

Sally -- Elizabeth Marshall
Geraldine -- Katrina Baylis
Willow -- Willow
Directed by L'hibou Hornung

Rose -- Hannah Clarke
Andy -- Jamie Lawrence
Directed by James Hadley

Joanna -- Hazel Oxborough
Henry -- Jack Buchanan
Natalie -- Susie Harcourt
Sarah -- Lucy Allan
Danny -- Ross Mackay
Directed by James Hadley

David -- Ronald Nelson
Simon -- Jimmy Sutcliffe
Directed by Harriette Cowan

Rob -- Martyn Wood
Zia (Venezia) -- Fiona Jagose
Jane -- Belinda Bretton
Seth -- Luke Hawker
Directed by James Hadley

Lil -- Marjorie McKee
Coop -- Barry Lakeman
Directed by L'hibou Hornung


Producers -- Aimee Froud, James Hadley
Production Assistant -- Beth Harris
Stage Managers -- William Donaldson, Jo Matheson
Costumes -- Penny Wilson, Jessica Arlidge, Jess Williamson
Marketing -- Brianne Kerr
Front of House -- Beth Harris, Jess Williamson
Element workshops -- Willem Wassenaar
Filming -- Julie Noever
Poster and flyer design -- Emma Froud
Costume design on poster -- Zoe Fox
Park warden -- Brian Thomas

Theatre , Promenade ,

2 hrs approx

A unique and special experience

Review by John Smythe 06th Feb 2007

To crib a line from one of the guides, it’s much more than just a walk in the park.

Catching a preview on a balmy Waitangi Day night I’m thrilled to say Fringe 07 promises to open with at least one delightfully ingenious show. Lovers of Central Park invited its audience to stroll through the park where 25 actors, who have worked with 6 directors, play out 8 scenarios ranging from 1855 to 2011 (click on the play title above for full details of who plays what in which era).

Kids on the cusp of childhood and adolescent love explore beyond the beaten track … A Māori couple find love but lose their land to a settler … A well-born randy cad has his way with a willing and trusting Irish maid … A Brooklyn shop girl succumbs to the charms of a young US naval rating … Two elegant ladies in illicit love confront the dilemma of one moving to Christchurch where her husband has been transferred …

An ailing gay film-maker tries to cope with his young lover’s relative promiscuity … Two heterosexual would-be couples duck and dive between the rock of commitment and fantasy of freedom … An ageing and apparently homeless couple, who could be refugees from a Samuel Beckett play, are trying to escape a pandemic that turns out to be in the future (2011), and one is inextricably linked to what happens to one of the kids, 27 years earlier.

We witness these interweaving scenarios in a variety of settings, open and enclosed, sunny and shaded, through literal ups and downs (wear good shoes) at the behest of three guides – a good solid Kiwi bloke (or is he?), a heart-aching torch-singer and a tree-hugging hippie.

The way the stories physically intersect, with the vistas before us offering intriguing and enriching depths of field, more than justifies the outdoor setting and asking the audience to follow the action body and sole.

Writer James Hadley has created readily recognised characters and moved them – and us – through well structured scenarios that reveal a wide range of all-too-human behaviour. And just as it all seems destined for disaster with no happy endings in sight, a finale is fashioned that leaves us with positive vibes.

Sure it could probably be edited down and tightened up without much loss of storyline. Some dialogue sequences are a bit dense for the setting and acoustics. But my interest never flagged through the 2 hour stop-start stroll (30 mins longer than the Fringe brochure suggests).

Lovers of Central Park is a unique and special experience that delivers on content as well as form.


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