Paper Scissors Rock

BATS Theatre, Wellington

05/08/2010 - 14/08/2010

Production Details

Three sisters. Three egos. Who will win? 

Paper Scissors Rock is an insight into the unique dynamic between sisters. It hosts a rare ensemble with an up and coming female writer, a knock-out cast of female actors and a newly established female director.

Written by returning Wellington actor/writer Yael Gezentsvey, this comedic drama is about three sisters reuniting at their mother’s 50th birthday. Penny’s pregnant, Sophie’s in debt, and Rebecca just wants to get the hell away. It’s a relationship triangle in which, much like their childhood game, someone always gets hurt.

Paper Scissors Rock stars Shortland Street’s Bonnie Soper, Colleen Davis, co-founder of the award winning Almost A Bird Theatre Collective, and Yael Gezentsvey, featured in TVNZ’s film A Piece of My Heart. Female director Dena Marie Kennedy (director of the Fringe Festival show Sunday Roast) feels the play offers the perfect balance of comedy and drama, believing that “anyone who has a sister, is a sister or wishes they knew what it was like to have one, will want to see it”.

As the youngest of three sisters in real life, Yael feels the play is “recognisably comical and embarrassingly realistic,” from the friendly banter to the bad dance choreography. Paper Scissors Rock looks at the natural cycle of sisterly relationships. From being the best of friends, to the worst of enemies. From laughing one second, to crying the next. It will be a night of discovery, as the more the sisters learn about each other, the more they learn about themselves.  

"Family love is messy, clingy and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper." -Friedrich Nietzsche

Premiering at BATS Theatre on
Thursday 5 August at 6.30pm. 
Season: 5 –14 August (excl Sun & Mon), 6.30pm
$18 full/ $14 concession & groups 6+
Book at BATS Theatre on 802 4175 or

Lighting design & operation: Tim Bell
Script development adviser:  Desiree Gezentsvey
Fight choreographer: Jacob Tomuri  

Auspicious first play

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 09th Aug 2010

Paper Scissors Rock is a family reunion play, the occasion being Rebecca, Sophie and Penny’s mother’s 50th birthday party. But mother has run off with a woman, and her daughters are finding their reunion awkward to say the least. One is pregnant to a man not her husband, another is flat broke, and the other anally retentive about just about everything.

Playwright Yael Gezentsvey, who also takes on the role of Penny, has written a neatly structured play that mixes comedy and drama so smoothly that the brief flashbacks for each sister to past moments of crisis and the present moments when decisions have to made (hence the title) flow easily and entertainingly as the sister’s lives and secrets are exposed.
She quotes in the programme Friedrich Nietzsche: Family love is messy, clingy, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper. Her play bears this out right down to the strips of wallpaper which are used as a backdrop.

The pattern of two sisters ganging up against the third is often amusing particularly when neither Sophie nor Rebecca can keep a secret for more than about two minutes when Penny unwisely lets on to Sophie that she is pregnant.

Yael Gezentsvey, Bonnie Soper (Rebecca), and Colleen Davis (Sophie) could well be sisters. They allow the antagonisms between the sisters to be messily real and threatening and yet we never doubt that the sisterly ties will not survive.

Excellent performances in an auspicious first play.
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When the house of cards called family collapses …

Review by John Smythe 06th Aug 2010

So why is Penny, a young adult daughter who has gone to the trouble of writing a song in celebration of her mother’s 50th birthday, so awkward and embarrassed when she comes to sing it to her own ukulele accompaniment? 

The morning after finds another daughter, Rebecca (Bex), preaching about separating and recycling rubbish as a third, Sophie, surfaces from a hangover and a night on the couch possibly with some bloke she can’t recall.

It’s pj-clad Penny who brings up the subject of “the shit bomb” their mother dropped into the party last night and Bex who finds their father’s wedding ring in the rubbish. It really is over (I won’t reveal why) and the secure family home the three sisters have always taken for granted is now no more.

Playwright Yael Gezentsvey has built her play from a strong dramatic premise. She also plays Penny with a non-explicit sense of nostalgia for her childhood as she confronts an adulthood that is coming sooner than expected in the form of a very complex moral dilemma.  

Bonnie Soper brings a truth to Rebecca’s PC-queen, art history graduate and would-be world traveller as we discover she has a weakness for a dubious artist called Caleb. This and her ability to send herself up, by delivering what she knows about their mother’s secret life as a formal presentation, save her from being a cipher.

The quest for independence has taken Sophie to San Francisco but she cannot escape her financial debts. Colleen Davis makes her very real indeed.

All three need money in a hurry and with Dad’s gold ring just sitting there, gone with the garbage as far as he is concerned, they resort to the Paper Scissors Rock game they have played since childhood to decide who gets it …

Director Dena Kennedy paces and modulates the action with a sure hand The forward momentum is punctuated with dynamic flashbacks to the speeches Bex and Sophie gave at the party, and with a sudden regression to childhood prompted by the exhumation of a dress-up box.

Only the ‘monologue’ bits seem rather contrived, where Bex talks to a spider trapped under a glass and Penny talks aloud to herself. The apparent failure of either parent to engage with their daughters in the aftermath of ‘the shit bomb’ is also a bit of a stretch.

Originally billed as 75 minutes long, it now runs at about 50. I have no idea what’s been cut and wonder if the sense of loss and fear of change inherent in this story could be more present in the play. Nevertheless it’s usually a good thing to leave your audience wanting more and imagining what might happen next and this production certainly does that. In many ways I’d liken it to a segment of an ingoing plot line in a Kiwi version of Brothers and Sisters.

As it stands, Paper Scissors Rock raises interesting questions about how we live our lives these days, between independence and togetherness. The essential truth of the sisters’ individuality and relationships makes for compelling theatre as they respond to this crisis, reveal more of themselves than they have for a while, fight furiously and finally reconnect, albeit in a heap (you have to be there).

There is humour in the play’s insights and commentary, and in the end we are asked to consider what, when the house of cards called family collapses, may allow the deck to be re-dealt to initiate a different game.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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