The Shed 10 (enter 77 Cook St), Auckland

02/02/2010 - 07/02/2010

Production Details

PSYCHOPATHS: A chilling horror by Thomas Sainsbury 


Amy moved to New York to pursue her musical dreams, but things have soured after only four weeks. Life seems to be a painful struggle against the constant stream of bills, unsmiling faces and repeated rejection. And then, to top it all off, someone terrorises her in her home. They wore a white mask, they wanted her blood, and they will come again.

Will she be ready for them . . .?

Amy will be played by MORGANA O’REILLY. Morgana’s recent screen credits include Piece of My Heart and The Jaquie Brown Diaries. She has also starred in Sainsbury’s LUV and The Mall, and her one-woman show, The Height of the Eiffel Tower. She will next be seen in Silo’s When the rains stops falling. 

Playing a range of oddballs that enter Amy’s life are ANDI CROWN, DWAYNE CAMERON, TODD EMERSON, DENA KENNEDY and ROBERTO NASCIMENTO. Andi has starred in The Ferryman and theatrical hit, Sex with Strangers. Dwayne was a mainstay on TV’s Street Legal, The Cult and Legend of the Seeker. Todd’s roles include Outrageous Fortune, The World’s Fastest Indian and Amazing Extraordinary Friends. Dena, two-time Chapman Tripp nominee, has credits ranging from TV’s Facelift to The Insider’s Guide to Happiness. And Roberto has had recent roles in Sainsbury’s plays The Needies, Cindy and Eric Go to Hell, and My London Sojourn.

PSYCHOPATHS was penned and will be directed by award-winning New Zealand playwright, THOMAS SAINSBURY. In the last two years Thomas has written and produced his plays LUV, Loser, The Mall, Beast, Gas and The Feminine. He has recently resided in London where he has produced productions of his plays A Simple Procedure and . . . and then you die. Thomas’s plays The Mall and Loser have been published by Play Press. Loser and his play Main Street are being adapted for the screen. He is currently working for TV3 with a new comedy, Super City.  

Tuesday, February 2 to Sunday, February 7, 2010
at 8:00pm
Location: THE SHED 10
CBD, Auckland, New Zealand
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A Comedy of Horrors

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 03rd Feb 2010

Thomas Sainsbury uses theatre space to explore his characters’ minds. From shoe-shop employees hearing voices in their heads in And Then You Die, to a self-isolated man hiding out in a cellar, convinced he is not alone in Basement; justified suspicion and angst are omnipresent.

In Psychopaths, the exploration of the mind threatens to become literal, as a young Kiwi immigrant is warned about the horrors awaiting her in New York City by her sardonic, new age roommate Christina. “And she was just sitting there on the subway and then someone starts cutting off her head… What is it with decapitation?” Christina ponders.

Having moved to the States to pursue her musical career, Amy discovers a city full of scowling faces, aggressive poverty, bleak prospects and answering machines. Amy (played by Morgana O’Reilly) remains optimistic until a white-masked murderer breaks into her apartment, threatening to take her blood. The attack leaves her terrified and lingering around the peep-hole in her door.

She can no longer stay in the apartment alone, while Christina is at art gallery openings, Yoga, or buying organic wheat-free bread. So she seeks refuge at a local cafe/bar, owned by a neighbouring New York character, Tony. Played with fitting gaucheness by Todd Emerson, Tony is a jittery, Woody Allan-esque “harmless” guy, who takes a liking to Amy and offers her a job at his cafe/bar.

Tony is the redeeming character of the play, who lends Amy a helping hand; however fervent that hand may be. But due to his eccentricity and infatuation, Tony becomes a prime suspect in the police investigation to find Amy’s attacker (who has now murdered three female immigrants). Unsure of Tony’s trustworthiness, Amy instead takes the hand of a lecherous barfly, Pierre (played by Dwayne Cameron) who, shortly after walking Amy to her hostel door, asks to sleep with her.

Although the plot may sound sinister, the show is undoubtedly a comedy – the highlights being Christina’s mordant lines and more importantly Andi Crown’s hilarious delivery of them, along with Todd Emerson’s oddball caricature performance.

The low production values – with badly timed lighting, broken pieces of set, ham-handed physicality, as well as bizarre accents – add to the comedy. Accompanied by Matt Ledingham’s cartoon spook music, the show is a successful horror spoof. The problem lies in committing to the genre, as the more sinister moments – like the two rather unnecessary on-stage stranglings – seemed out of place.

“I wanted to write a kick-ass horror,” Sainsbury writes in his ‘Note from the Author’. It seems that the playwright’s intention was not to write a long-lasting, classic horror play with Psychopaths. He wasn’t aiming for a Pinteresque sense of foreboding and menace.Instead, he tried out the genre for fun, and with that, he created something refreshing: a comical horror.
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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The contorting power of fear

Review by Lillian Richards 03rd Feb 2010

Thomas Sainsbury wrote this play – one of many, many, many – about the entrenched fear that pervades every day living, after his brief stay in New York. In this era of wars waged on notions of faulty logic, the influence of fear in our lives is a crucial one, fruiting paranoia and the very real threats that lurk within the hyperbole.

It is a fine line we walk, torn as we are between ideas and reality; between what’s justified and what’s a fiction devised to control us.

A psychopath is defined as someone suffering from a mental disorder that results in their being a danger to others. This derangement is of constant interest to us as a species. We adore the adrenaline rush of imagined interactions and near misses with such creatures. Not many (I say this instead of ‘no-one’ because I can’t get out of my head the guy who answered the German’s ad asking for a person willing to be eaten) would be naive enough to want such an interaction in reality.

So Sainsbury has tried his hand at this adrenaline seeking frenzy by writing a script which attempts to capture our darker imaginings. Similar to his work in Beast (where a family trip is hijacked by the dark secrets of a small town’s murderous tendencies), Psychopaths draws on a recognisable dynamic, though this play is more sitcom, perhaps, than drama, and where Beast had elements of real tension, Psychopaths is more a low hum melodrama.

The realistic set design creates an entire NY apartment with art and posters of Native American commandments. There are sofas and benches, a working door (which features heavily: will it open? Who will be behind it?). As such it is immediately engrossing.

The main plot is a pretty tired narrative: new comer to NY fears the high crime rate and succumbs to the propaganda of fear only to have it realised with a break-in that implies worse to come.

The newcomer, Amy, is played by Morgana O’Reilly whose natural charm and awkward grace on stage is a pleasure to watch; O’Reilly is a talented actress who lavishes her character with believable ease.

Andi Crown plays the black-wearing pseudo artistic flatmate with some good one-liners, and she does so with skill and great comedic timing, though the script is somewhere between drama and comedy and doesn’t ever really realise either.

Todd Emerson as Tony the neighbour (who owns what one presumes must be a fictional café / bar because of his overt weirdness), is truly wonderful. Emerson shone last year in a supporting role in The History Boys and hasn’t looked back. His work as Tony has a depth that wasn’t necessarily present in the script but which is of Emerson’s making, most likely encouraged by great direction from Sainsbury.

Dena Kenedy plays the female cop who comes to Amy’s aid. She takes the description of her assailant with a harsh TV detective air that makes sense in this drama type setting. Roberto Nascimento plays a bit role as the cop’s sidekick, sniffing out the flat for any details otherwise unrecorded.

Dwayne Cameron (The Tribe) couldn’t quite seem to decide if he was French or Mexican on opening night but managed to choose French a wee way in and from there on plays a relatively believable foreigner in NY who becomes enamoured of Amy.

Psychopaths, though not fraught, tense or tight enough to be a thoroughly convincing drama and not a dedicated comedy either (which is arguably where Sainsbury’s strength lies as a playwright), is more a slow-burning look at how our lives can be contorted by fear, both real and imagined.

The true depth of this subject remains unplumbed here. But for an evening out, the ambience of the venue, the quality of the cast and the detail of the set design, Psychopaths offers something you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
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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