(N)one Down

BATS Theatre, Pit Bar, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

02/03/2011 - 05/03/2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details


Rod S Crows is the greatest cryptic crossword setter of his generation. 

He wants to tell you a story over a couple of beers about love, loss and the search for just the right clue.

Pit Bar, Bats Theatre
Wednesday 2nd March – Saturday 5th March 2011
8.30pm + 6.30pm Friday 4th March 
Price: Koha
Book tickets! 

Actors: Nick Zwart and Amelia Reynolds   

35 mins

None down, everywhere to go

Review by John Smythe 03rd Mar 2011

A cryptic play about a cryptic crossword creator is a great idea. But to be ‘hidden when partly seen with a remedy’ is not the same as being ‘in charge of a tomb’.* Also, equal and opposite to the joy of filling a cryptic grid is the disappointment of leaving it incomplete forever. So it is with Uther Dean’s (N)one down.

When the self-confessed nonentity William Jones reveals his feelings on being asked to write the autobiography of his better-known pseudonym Rod S Crows (no prize for unscrambling that anagram), syndicator of cryptic crosswords, I’m hooked. And when the maid behind the bar he frequents (he has two names; she has none it seems) punctuates his monologue with interjections suggesting she’s heard it all before, I am intrigued.

The tale he tries to tell, despite her resistance at his “writing her into the fiction of his life without permission” may or may not contain traces of truth. She does, however, admit to staying at his place (William Jones’ that is) for a night or two – a month or two, he claims – but “nothing happened” and he’s not to be mislead by her manner because “It’s my job to make you think I like you.”

So far so very intriguing, thanks to engaging performances by Nick Zwart and Amelia Reynolds directed by Jean Sergent in Bats’ cosy Pit Bar.

A question arises as to whether they met at university before or after Rod came into being – i.e. which of them may or may not have attracted her? – and given the theme and context of the play, I’m fine with her not wanting to “give too much of herself away,” either to him and to us … Our having to work at it, as with a crossword, is all grist to the entertainment mill.

But when he asks a key question and she whispers something in his ear, then it’s all over, I feel ripped off. When we sit down to do any kind of crossword, we trust it can be solved, and the same goes for a play that tantalises with puzzles we want to decode.

The grid-in-progress we are given on the back of our programme is fun to contemplate, if a little distracting during the play, but I’m pretty sure it does not contain the answers to the questions we are left with.

None down, everywhere to go.

*(to be obscure is not the same as being cryptic.)
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