Poison and Purity

Various West Coast venues, West Coast South Island

10/02/2011 - 25/03/2011

Production Details

Written by Dr Paul Maunder

Presented by Kiwi/Possum Productions

Last year a Community-based Theatre Group called Kiwi Possum Productions was set up in Greymouth to explore local issues, to provide theatre-making opportunities and training for local actors, and to establish a Community-based theatre culture within the region.

A group of committed and surprisingly experienced people who now live in the Greymouth area, some of whom have worked professionally in theatre, both in NZ and the UK, appeared out of the woodwork.

This first production, Poison and Purity, portrays all sides of the 1080 debate in a theatre encounter which actively involves audiences in discussion of the issue.

The next project will centre on the Pike River disaster and explore the heritage paradigm.

Poison and Purity
Greymouth, Karoro Learning Hall:  Feb 10, 11, 8.00pm
Hokitika Dramatic Society Theatre: Feb 25th, 8.00pm
Hari Hari School Library: Feb 26th, 7.30pm
NBS Theatre, Westport: March 4th, 8.00pm
Karamea: Seresin Café: March 5th, 7.30pm
Reefton Oddfellows Hall: March 25th, 8.00pm
Motueka (mid year).  

Cast: Heather Fletcher, Jason Johnson, Paul Maunder, Caroline Selwood.

Lighting: Mark Apanui    

Theatre , Community-based theatre ,

Inspired by 1080

Review by Greg O'Connell 09th Mar 2011

Poison and Purity is not only a balanced, polished and intelligently layered play but also a brilliantly entertaining night out.

“What’s your poison?” Tom (Paul Maunder) asks behind the bar of the Hari Hari pub, echoing the theme of this engaging and energetic journey through 1080 country.

The action takes place on an ingenious minimal set, where scaffolding acts as the bush, the portable bar, and even as a helicopter rotor blade.

Fast-moving short scenes weave and intersect: cockies light-heartedly give stick to consultants; Possum taunts Kiwi; contractors make a 1080 drop; a guided tour walks the Heaphy Track; pig hunters come unstuck; bush animals get mischievous; police and protesters clash; the Prime Minister confers with advisers in the Beehive; and locals gather at the pub.

Each member of the four-strong ensemble plays multiple roles with skill, versatility and a healthy dose of humour. Jason Johnson gives a dynamic and endearing performance as the boisterous, testosterone-charged Possum. Heather Fletcher delivers evocative, soaring vocals and characterisations that are just as pitch-perfect.

Caroline Selwood delights as the refined Stoat and the sharp-tongued tour guide. While Paul Maunder impresses in every guise with a style that is always understated, authentic and riveting.

Contributing to the intimate quality of the production is the use of acoustic guitar (Maunder), violin (Fletcher) and percussion (ensemble), supported ably by Mark Apanui’s unobtrusive lighting and soundscape.

At the conclusion of the show the cast gently invites audience discussion, adding a further thought-provoking dimension. But it is the images of the frolicking Kiwi, Possum, Rat and Stoat that will live on afterwards; their irrepressible sense of fun defining this superbly-crafted play.

Whatever your poison, be sure to sample this excellent drop of pure West Coast community-based theatre.


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