Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

12/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

Memoria is a physically charged, devised work. Exploring the storytelling and mythology of times long past, as well as the relevant truth that fiction can hold.

Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington CBD
9.30pm, 12-15 Feb (60min)

Theatre ,

Strong voice and movement skills

Review by Deborah Eve Rea 13th Feb 2014

Happy Nomad Theatre has devised Memoria having been inspired by “stories we tell ourselves about death”.  With an interest in the idea of legacy and mythology, coming to the tale of Achilles seems inevitable.  As the programme notes, “this is a huge story” and they have, wisely, chosen moments to share. 

There is a small section of necessary exposition that is wonderfully done by utilising the audience for its realisation. The opening night audience is, of course, made of loving supporters and I wonder how the company will do throughout the season.   

The stage combat is well conducted leaving us enthralled with just the right touch of threat of genuine harm. Sparks fly off the metal swords to enthused gasps from the crowd. Each scene is complemented by Petar Andrejic on live, electric guitar. 

The cast have mostly elected for a heightened style of acting to convey their Greek inspiration.  At times they need to play with contrast of tone while at others they relax and soften to a more human quality which connects with their audience. 

Diesel McGrath’s Librarian is tasked to narrate to us the tale through direct address monologue. He holds the stage with a unique balance of strength and softness which is captivating to watch. McGrath’s character carries an air of mystery and mysticism; at times he produces a prop, or emerges on stage almost from thin air.

Jacob Dale as Patroclus is charming and playful. Kesava Beaney’s Achilles is innocent and boyish yet determined. “A boy stays to listen to his mother; a man leaves to follow his destiny …” Catriona Tipene plays Cassandra with committed intensity, tension and longing. Mouce Young provides support in the roles of Fates, Thetis and Soldier with strength and presence.   

Jasmine Shadbolt’s set (beautifully constructed by Robbie Rann) is comprised of a lone book case with large books, ornaments and swords. It is simple but effective in placing us in both worlds, of the Librarian and the Greeks. It is well paired with Rowan McShane’s lighting (operated by Michael Jones) to inspire a cold space of mystery and darkness. Shadbolt’s costumes – including robes, breast plates, togas and a three piece suit – are exquisite and the best I’ve seen in this Fringe Festival. 

Memoria is bookended by a choral physical score which is interesting but, other than the possibility that they may be channelling a modern Greek chorus, I’m unsure how it connects to the larger work. 

I am excited to see a young company of actors with strong voice and movement skills. On enquiring I discover that they are largely a group of UCoL graduates (Palmerston North) who have made the move to Wellington. Memoria serves as a good first work and I look forward to watching their development.


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