Hanover Hall, 65 Hanover St, Dunedin
23/03/2019 - 26/03/2019
Love, Fleas, and the Search for Connection
“An absurdist tale about love, fleas, and the search for connection,” the latest production by Dunedin independent theatre company Little Scorpion Productions provides both a breath-taking spectacle and an intimate, funny, tightly directed piece of theatre. Marine Snow, written by Finnius Teppett, opens March 23 as part of the 2019 Dunedin Fringe Festival.
Marine Snow is the opening show in the company’s first semi-professional season, which ranges from contemporary New Zealand work to Shakespeare. The production features talking fleas, a disappearing girl, and a ten metre long abyssal jellyfish. Actor Tyler Neumann describes the story as “both very funny and annoyingly relatable, which makes their individual tragedies all the more troubling.” The production is directed by Dunedin theatre and Little Scorpion mainstay Mac Veitch, his first directing role with this company.
As always, the production has a strong focus on youth artistic development, with Dunedin high school students Savanna Stent and Elizabeth Horner joining the six-strong semi-professional cast, and Y13 Samson Ruthven operating the lights and interning in lighting design. “This has been a gateway into the incredible world behind the scenes,” said Samson. “I’ve developed skills I didn’t know I could have.”
The rest of the season promises to be just as exciting, with the second and third shows already in production. The next show, opening in April, is a double bill of New Zealand women’s theatre produced with an all-female cast and crew, followed by a directing mentorship program for Dunedin teenagers. The season will also feature Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, following on from last year’s acclaimed and award-nominated Hamlet.
Hanover Hall, 65 Hanover Street, Dunedin”
23 & 24 March: shows 7pm and 9pm
25 & 26 March: show 7:30pm
Cast/crew Q&A after show on Monday 25th.
For more information, or to buy tickets see https://www.dunedinfringe.nz/events/marine-snow.
Tickets also available on the door.
Tyler Neumann: Leon
Cheyne Jenkinson: Don
Savanna Stent: Penny
Stewart Ashton: Sam
Alison Cowan: Sonya
Elizabeth Horner: Conscience
Fabian Clarke: Dead Seagull/Jellyfish
Stage Manager: Ahinata Kaitai-Mullane
Production Design: Kerry Lane
Lighting Design: Anna Sinton
Lighting Operator: Samson Ruthven
Fishtank Construction: Eric Neumann, Tyler Neumann
Costume, set, prop, puppet design: Kerry Lane
Marketing design: Kerry Lane
Produced by Kerry Lane
Proudly presented by Little Scorpion Productions as part of Dunedin Fringe Festival 2019
1hr 20mins (no interval)
An absurd take on what it means to relate
Review by Kimberley Buchan 24th Mar 2019
Marine Snow is an absurdist play about love, fleas and the search for connection. Finnius Teppett has created a play that contains many curious concepts and is permeated with a strong sense of loneliness. The characters in the play put a lot of energy in reaching for connection, but the connections that are made are either brief, or tenuous or unrequited.
Penny, played by the luminous and genuine Savanna Stent, and Sam, played by an earnest Stewart Ashton, have a brief moment of possibility. However the moment is lost to the menace of the Dead Seagull, played ominously by Fabian Clarke. The Dead Seagull is a hateful crunching creature, but has truly wonderful wings that are used to terrible effect.
When Penny vanishes there is initial concern but then the oblivious Sam returns to his obsession with the stygiomedusa and submerges himself completely in it. If you are not sure what a stygiomedusa is, don’t worry. The program comes with many helpful definitions ranging from marine snow to concrete.
Sonya, the sometimes diabolical mother of Penny, seduces Don, the proud owner of the 80 million dollar hole in the ground. Alison Cowan and Cheyne Jenkinson build up an alcohol based, but mutual and fun relationship. It appears that a lasting rapport has been constructed but then the audience is left gasping, wondering if any of it was real or whether it was all about concrete.
The fleas are a highlight. Their costumes (designed by Kerry Lane) are an ever changing magnificent delight. Tyler Newmann and Elizabeth Horner light up the stage with their antics and hilarious facial expressions. They work beautifully together to tell a heartrending story. Tyler’s character, Leon, while hilarious is quite frustrating and leaves one with the intense desire to smack him.
The final secret ghostly star of this show is the elusive stygiomedusa itself. A nine foot long silken jellyfish sneaks up in behind us in the dark. It is beautiful and deserves far more visibility than it achieves.
Mac Veitch is a thoughtful director who has made the most of the multi-level performance space. The somewhat unsteady looking makeshift set creates an intriguing contrast against the soaring architecture of Hanover Hall. His inclusion of live musicians Robert Wilkinson, Abigail Dunn and Johnny Mann is integral to the atmosphere.
The audience is left many a time with a sensation of unease because of the unusual soundscape the musicians create. Consideration could be given to the balance of sound as the younger actors struggle to project over the music at times.
Most people’s reaction to the discovery of fleas is only for their immediate and complete annihilation. We never stop to consider whether they have names or relationships or even how humans can be lonely when surrounded by billions of unacknowledged creatures. Come to Marine Snow to enjoy an absurd take on what it means to relate.
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