Nuclear Zephyr

BATS Theatre, Wellington

07/08/2007 - 11/08/2007

Production Details

L’hibou Hornung – director
Katrina Baylis – producer

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”

This is about secret global worlds that exist today, armed with the potential to end life with a death to end all deaths. It is about you and me, identity, and hope for a world which our youth will soon inherit.

Several actors from different ethnicities and artistic media take you on a magic journey to explore the world, our dilemmas, our hopes and the promise of tomorrow.

Attending Nuclear Zephyr is a great way to participate in NZ Peace Week, coinciding with the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August).

Is it life that I love, or is it the thought of what could be?
I live and breathe yet perhaps it is just existence
Or maybe I am a marvellous creation from the magic wind of life.

‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with one step’ – Lao-Tzu

Season: Tuesday 7 – Saturday 11 August
Time: 6.30pm, plus 1.30pm Wednesday to Friday only
Tickets: $15 full / $12 concession & groups 8+

book now!

Ban Abdul; Jack Buchanan; Kushani Gunawardana; Ants Heath; Alexis Luo; Chris Neels; Aneela Pancha; and Penny Wilson.

Kate Logan - set design
Glenn Ashworth - lighting design
Emile De la Ray - sound design

Anna Boyack - stage manager
Oscar Mulheron - lighting
Cameron Burnell - photography
Matthew Mitchell - opening composition
Melanie Clark - choreography mentor
Katrina & Philippa Baylis - costumes
Cathy Blakely & Katrina Baylis - catering
Greg Mitchell - programme

Theatre , Political satire ,

1 hr 10 mins, no interval

Focused political satire timely and provocative

Review by John Smythe 09th Aug 2007

Hands up those who knew this was NZ Peace Week and that last Monday was the 62nd anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima? 

To mark the occasion and remind us all that annihilation of life as we know it on the planet is just a button push away – or a series of secret codes known to a select few, to be more precise – eight performer-writers, three designers and a production team have come together with director L’hibou Hornung to create and present a thought-provoking revue called Nuclear Zephyr.

Set designer Kate Logan’s column of white gauze, within which a white-clad woman stands motionless, offers a compelling centrepiece. The majestic beauty of a nuclear explosion remains a mind-blowing paradox. And the violin music the woman – Aneela Pancha – plays throughout the hour or so will warm, chill and haunts us.

Welcome Aboard, the opening sequence – written by Penny Wilson, Jack Buchanan, Kushani Gunawardana and Alexis Luo, and performed by the whole company – is one of the best. It parodies an airline safety demonstration to devastating effect, predicated as it is on the inevitability of a nuclear disaster or attack. Scarily funny. .

Silo of the Century, written in two episodes by Ants Heath and fronted by him and Jack, allows for many disturbing facts to be imparted under the guise of a popular quiz show.  

Beginning with The Hum, Ban Abdul has written – and performs with Chris Neels – an extraordinary five-part sequence involving two American service personnel guarding a nuclear weapons facility. In this evolving relationship between two quite ordinary but politically opposed people, Ban captures an insightful microcosm of the all-too-human fears, failings and foibles that set us on the path to mutually assured destruction.

A two-part sketch involving a couple of Kiwi farmers – written by Chris, Jack and Penn, and performed by Chris and Jack – plays with the idea of a taciturn anti-Greenie farmer who writes suspect love poetry to his cow Bessie, and finally expresses his vision of a mutant future through his undying love for her. Ingenious.

These memorable elements are punctuated by more standard sketch fare, like a commercial for Australia as the ideal nuclear waste dump facility, some acrobatic dance sequences, and a rather quaint and out-of-place piece on the value of music.

A voice-over poem by Aneela Pancha, entitled Isn’t it amazing …?, completes the show as Glen Ashworth’s lighting and Emile De la Ray’s sound design conspire to evoke the conflagration … Having reminded us what has occurred and evolved over billions of years, Aneela confronts us with the prospect that it could all be taken away "in an instant, with the press of a single button … / And then we might think of the tree / that falls in the forest with no witness and ask ourselves / "Does it matter that Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa / If there is no-one left to remember it?"

This return of political satire in such focused forms, where the message is never subverted by the medium, is very welcome. The script for Welcome Aboard should be distributed to drama teachers at high schools all over the country and a staging challenge for students. And Ban Abdul’s The Hum (etc) has the potential to become a short play in its own right.

Producer Katrina Baylis and director L’hibou Hornung are to be congratulated for facilitating the development and production of such a timely and provocative show.


Emile De la Rey August 12th, 2007

Hi John, thanks for the positive review. Just wanted to provide a correction: the violinist in this show was in fact Aneela Pancha. [Thanks Emile - fixed - JS]

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