ORACLES AND MIRACLES
06/06/2019 - 30/06/2019
Oracles and Miracles follows the journey of two working-class sisters growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand. Born in 1929 they are children of the Depression. They grow to adulthood through the time of the Second World War and become mothers in the Baby Boom of the early fifties. Nick-named Ginnie and Fag the sisters are driven by the hope of a better life, consumed with love stories, romantic ideals, and luxuries they can only dream of. Told with humour, passion, insight, and authenticity, Oracles and Miracles celebrates the lives of courageous women.
This production marks the 30 year Anniversary of Stevan Eldred-Grigg’s powerful novel and the North American debut of Norelle Scott’s play.
Oracles and Miracles will play at @actorscompanyla. Preview/Press night Thursday, June 6th, 8:30pm. Opening night Friday, June 14th, 8:30pm, with performances throughout the festival. Tickets and information: http://hff19.org/5969.
Directed by @pattersonleah3 (Best Director Award at the Hollywood Short+Sweet Festival for Norelle Scott’s @bridget_and_iain).
Starring New Zealand actors @amylouisewaller (HFF18 award nominee for Gloria), @siobhangm (NZTV multi-award nominee for Outrageous Fortune), Donogh Rees (NZFTV Best Supporting Actress Award for Crush), Elizabeth Hawthorne (New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to theatre), @millenbaird (NZTV award for the creation of Darryl: An Outward Bound Story) and @oscarwilson_ (title role in Auckland Theatre Company’s Peer Gynt [Recycled].
Let Live Theatre
The Actors Company, 916A North Formosa Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Thursday, June 6th, 8:30pm – Press night
Friday, June 14th, 8:30pm – Opening night
Friday, June 21st, 7:30pm
Saturday, June 22nd, 5pm
Sunday, June 23rd, 3pm
Friday, June 28th, 5pm
Saturday, Jun 29th, 10pm
Sunday, June 30th, 11am – Closing
Tickets and information: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5969
Depending on how the run goes there is a possibility of a small extension for an additional week through July 7th. Our production is being considered for this.
A paean to brave women who forge tangible lives from arduous beginnings
Review by Mark Smythe 25th Jun 2019
“The past is still living in us.” From the outset, this wonderfully redolent play transports me to the musty pastiche of old-world New Zealand. As an ex-pat Kiwi based in LA, who coincidentally has a mother called Ginny who grew up in mid-20th century Christchurch, the level of nostalgic immersion is high.
Ginnie, the protagonist, and her sister Fag (Monica), are young working class girls who taunt the vicissitudes of depression-era suburban poverty with rambunctious spirit. The repartee from Siobhan Marshall (Ginnie) and Amy Waller (Fag) infuses the room – for me, they’re immediately and utterly compelling. Waller reminds me of a young Robyn Malcolm, enhancing the warm familiarity that stays with me long after the play. Unfortunately my American guest takes a few minutes to adjust to the New Zealand vernacular, even with the thoughtfully provided glossary of idioms in the programme, and thus loses some of the humour in translation.
Interspersed with Ginnie and Fag’s irrepressible future fantasies are the more measured ruminations of their older selves, cleverly presented via pre-recorded film clips, projected onto a sheet that hangs from the rickety washing line (The set design is sparse for this production, but it works well). Donogh Rees (older Ginnie) and Elizabeth Hawthorne (older Fag) both deliver the perfect cantankerous fillip to their girlhood iterations, with just the right mixture of wit and snarl.
It does take me a second or two to believe Hawthorne’s inherent working class grit – she seems too regal somehow (I later read that she has an ONZM) but as the girls’ stories unfold, I realize that she nails a complex character arc. There are many scenes when young/old Ginnie/Fag actually talk between live and sheet screen dialogue, which a couple of times they ‘just’ pull off, but full credit for ingenuity and adding an extra dimension. In one memorable birth scene, Marshall monologues in sync with Rees’ pre-record of the same dialogue – impressive.
As the young women’s career and romantic trajectories pass through the years and their fates no longer intertwine, the outstanding script tosses up unforgettable lines. From being “tatty scrubs of self-importance” to “caught on a treadmill of dreams”, Fag later enters a phase of “dark, eternal significance”. Her incumbent husband Roddie (played with faultless amiability by Oscar Wilson) also drops classic truth bombs into the rich reality mix: “The privileged never know they’re privileged … Anything new or different, they just seal their minds up.” Whether drawn from Stevan Eldred-Grigg’s novel or insinuated into the script by Norelle Scott, the writing is just superb, an absolute highlight.
Much, but not all, is golden in this (American) summer production. The love interest of Ginnie, Jaz (Millen Baird), simply doesn’t convince as an ex-soldier turned phone company worker. He’s too laconic. I don’t believe he fought for King and Country. I don’t believe the longer hair and beard look, for the era. Most of all, I don’t believe their first kiss – it should be pash and dash, but this is pash and crash.
Sean Van Doornum’s sound design is spot on – old cityscapes, babies, factories, offices – it’s all there. And his score is also on point, initially – the opening cue supports the past ambiance with a lilting, Satie-like piano piece… which never changes. I hear the very same cue during scene changes after two pivotal moments, and Fag’s morbid post-coital cigarette musings on her wedding night. The plot has thickened to a darker stew by now but the music doesn’t deviate from its original recipe. Maybe I’m being fussy (as I’m a composer myself) but it feels like a lost development opportunity.
The song placements however are nicely done, and apropos of the era: Evelyn Knight’s “’Little Bird Told Me’ (that you loved me) delights during Fag and Roddie’s courtship phase, as does Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’. This latter piece is reprised, and drenched in cavernous reverb, as the burgeoning young bourgeois couple view Christchurch from the hills: a subtle, clever touch.
It’d be remiss of me not to mention Kate Bergh’s period aplomb with her costume design – everyone looks the part across multiple settings, with accessories to boot. Gabriel Griego’s understated lighting design also enhances the granularity of this particular Christchurch epoch.
Special mention must also be made of Amy Waller’s “impeccable comedic timing” (this from my American guest – and Americans can be hard to woo). I’ve never laughed so hard at the line “…black toast”.
Oracles and Miracles is very, very well done – a paean to brave women who forge tangible lives from arduous beginnings.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Touching, heart-breaking and funny
Review by Nicola Scott 09th Jun 2019
Oracles & Miracles, a New Zealand play by Norelle Scott, based on the novel by Stevan Eldred-Grigg and directed by Leah Patterson, is now on at the Let Live Theater, Hollywood, as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
It is the touching, heart-breaking and funny story of twin sisters, Ginnie (Siobhan Marshall) and Fag (Amy Waller), aged 14, growing up in 1940s Christchurch. They also appear on screen, in their 60s (played by Donogh Rees and Elizabeth Hawthorne), commenting on their young selves.
The girls struggle to survive a violent, poverty-stricken family where their brothers are encouraged to beat them whenever they feel like it.
It’s a life only made bearable by their dream of husbands and jobs, which will take them away from being “caught in a treadmill of dreams.” Ginnie finds love with Jaz (Millen Baird) and Fag with husband Roddie (Oscar Wilson).
Rich with Kiwi idiom Oracles & Miracles offers a wonderful insight into a time and place far away and long ago.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer