Hamilton Gardens, Medici Court, Hamilton

27/02/2020 - 29/02/2020

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2020

Production Details

The war in heaven has just begun. 

Set against the backdrop of Heaven and Eden after its first year of creation, we meet one of the most famous families in history as they reunite. At the dawn of time this devoted family is left wondering, where has their Father gone?

Having created Eden their job now is to keep the family together, but for the two elder brothers it is no easy task. One seeks to maintain the law of tradition, the other craves change. Their conflict so great it divides the Host of Heaven. The split that ensues threatens all that they know, with each sibling forced to take sides. The situation is only heightened by the fact that the two elder brothers are the Archangels Michael the Protector and Lucifer the Light Bearer. Father has to be found, ‘come Hell or high water’ and Lucifer plans to find him.

This intriguing and relatable retelling of an ancient Biblical story will make you think during the performance and well beyond.

“…something very very special indeed. I loved it.” – Broadway World

Medici Court
Thu 27 Feb – Sat 29 Feb 2020
$38 General Admission
$35 Concession

Jacqui Nauman - Gabriel
Alex Tunui - Jophiel
Marwin Silerio - Lucifer
Stephen Brunton - Michael
Connor Johnston - Uriel
Tom Henderson - Raphael
Blair Strang - The Watcher
Stage Manger - TBC

Theatre ,

1 hr 30 min

Strangely compelling

Review by Gail Pittaway 28th Feb 2020

After a successful run in Auckland, this production with revised cast and director brings Heaven to the Paradise Gardens section of Hamilton Gardens. The company, Sapphire Productions, first played this entertaining piece of Old Testament storytelling about the fall of Lucifer, with its founder, Blair Strang as Lucifer, the eponymous fallen angel. But here Strang directs a strong company while also giving a few cameo appearances, as Reader (Preacher) and Watcher, in Albert Belz’s entertaining and sometimes even zany script.

The production matches itself perfectly to the outdoor setting, the Medici Court, draped with vines and ivy, several levels of stage and semicircular tiered seating for the audience. It’s an intimate space, even with the occasional leak of music from another part of the Paradise Gardens, or the odd motor noise from river or air, but every word is clear, every gesture convincing, as the cast retells a little explored (in our time) section of the Creation story.

The space becomes Heaven when the host of angels resides and Eden, or Paradise, where God has finished his last days of Creation. The audience of course becomes the final creation – the Naked Ape, or humans – who seem to be very much enjoying their baser natures and continuing the work of creation, with procreation.

However, the highest order of angels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Jophiel, already somewhat jealous of the favour The Master shows to Lucifer, their brother, become even more torn apart when The Master chooses to spend his time with the new creations in Eden and not return to Heaven. Eden is forbidden to the angels, but the temptations to visit, to spy and to see new opportunities, are overwhelming for most of the host. Lucifer is a catalyst for this rebellion and temptation, as he has been thoroughly disobedient, all in an attempt to get The Master to pay him attention.  But the silence from God the Father continues, as do Lucifer’s ever-increasing acts of disobedience.   

The casting is excellent, from Strang’s sepulchral explanations, and Stephen Brunton’s authoritarian angel Michael, to the younger more impressionable angels: an exuberant Raphael (Tom Henderson) and impish Jophiel (Alex Tunui). Marwin Silerio as Lucifer is perfectly sinewy, supple and self-assured, his charisma entirely evident. Gabriel (Jacqui Nauman) and Uriel (Connor Johnston) seem to provide stability to their family so that their weaknesses are most impressive as conflict develops.

Belz has given the angels gender, with two as female, Jophiel and Gabriel. This allows the narrative development for angels to meet the temptation to “make like humans” and “make out”.

Framed as a religious service by Blair Strang’s reader/ preacher calling us to worship, and occasional narrative updates from the large Bible he sports on a lectern, the production segues between King James’ Bible oratory and graphic novel superhero representations. This unlikely and unexpected shifting between styles is strangely compelling to watch and there are no dull moments, as the heavenly bodies wrestle with each other, their own baser feelings and the tension between obedience and developing personal power. Strang also narrates the fight sequences, performed in slow motion and carefully choreographed, while interjections of contemporary sounds – such as an electronic harp twang when the mellifluous Michael speaks, and beats of disco and funk – cross from eternity to here. Most entertainingly the Carpenter’s ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ is used ironically to background this teething period for creation.


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