RIDDIFORD STREET: Season Three
BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
09/09/2014 - 13/09/2014
With unscripted lust, intrigue and perhaps a dash of medicine
PlayShop is excited to announce the much-anticipated return of Riddiford Street to BATS Theatre this September. Will this season of improvised soap opera finally answer all of the questions left unanswered in season two? Is Lucian Carlson really dead? What did Crystal Fox the urologist bring back from Foxton? Where in the world is Dr Swanson? So who’s going to replace the cast members that left to work in television?
Director Jonathan Price describes where this season is coming from: “After our success playing with full-blown parody in the first Riddiford Street and Game of Things, I’m challenging the cast to dig further. We want to tap into that absurd, unabashed drama that keeps audiences hooked on shows like Shortland Street.” During this season audiences will be invited to watch six skilled actors play enough characters to sink a hospital.
Critics have called it “a very fun house party surrounded by hilarious friends”; and PlayShop is honoured to announce that this season of Riddiford Street has been chosen to be analysed as an example of New Zealand Theatre by Dramaturgies of the World.
PlayShop constitutes a new generation of Wellington improvisers, all with a vested interest in theatre. We believe the skills and philosophies of improvisation can be used to create exciting, risky, accessible theatre of all types.
Riddiford Street is directed by Jonathan Price, and features Oliver Devlin, Jed Davies, Sam Irwin, Jen O’Sullivan, Jonny Paul and Caitlin McNaughton.
Sound Designer & Musician: Amand Gerbault-Gaylor.
Tuesday 9th – Saturday 13th September, 7:00pm
BATS Theatre (Out of Site), Corner of Cuba and Dixon
Tickets: $16/$14 with a $12 Group rate and $10 Student Wednesdays
Bookings: 04 802 4175 or www.bats.co.nz
Run Time: 60 minutes
Production Manager: Keely McCann.
Set & Costume Designer: Harriet Denby.
Lighting Designer: Rowan McShane
A riveting experience
Review by John Smythe 10th Sep 2014
Theatreview didn’t get to Season One but we did cover the opening episode of Season Two in last year’s Fringe. A rotating cast of 16 peopled the improvised hospital soap-opera then but the ‘Previously on Riddiford Street’ segment that opens Season Three reveals most of them died from some mysterious plague. So now a tight team of six plays 12 characters – with alacrity.
Pale hospital curtains adorn the stage, the branded reception desk hides the keyboard of musician and sound designer Amand Gerbault-Gaylor, and triples as the cafeteria counter and the inevitable bar. A list of ‘studio sets’ (the only pre-rehearsed element) is down-stage right and an audience ‘ask for’ determines this episode will commence in the Morgue.
The only other ‘ask for’ is “a scientific concept, like evolution” and the strong offer from up the back is “gravity”. And we’re off …
Beverly Wakenshaw (Jennifer O’Sullivan) is in charge of the Morgue, Trevor Duck (Sam Irwin) is the Orderly who wheels in the cadavers and his need for a shoulder massage escalates over the episode into a major plot thread – the Bev & Trev Back Rub Club: an excellent example of extracting the full potential from a random offer.
Bev sees big possibilities in the club but back rubs nearly do her in, thanks to a rare and hitherto undiagnosed condition. Trev, meanwhile, uses their achievement to campaign for a place on the DHB – presided over by the pompous Winthrop Bagneous (Jed Davies). It seems only we in the audience see Winthrop devour all the votes cast for Trev because in the ‘Next on Riddord Street’ preview it seems Trev has been elected – so they’re going to have to join those dots in Episode Two.
The gravity theme manifests as inexplicable occurrences (reported) of people jumping from high buildings and needing treatment for telescoped legs – but scenes set on the hospital Fire Escape never include anyone feeling the urge to jump. Due gravity arises in other scenes, however.
Exotically French Dr Olivier Duvet (Jonny Paul) is very grave, for example, in pursuing his surgery work as an artistic vocation. He is also misogynistic in his rejection of women surgeons – which demolishes the hitherto redoubtable South African Surgeon, Hester van Haagen-Dazs (O’Sullivan) – but only his French kiss-of-life brings Bev back from the brink.
Paul also plays Luke Patrick Longbow, a nurse, who gets the wrong idea about Surgical Intern Janet Jenkins (Caitlin McNaughton) thanks to their front-rubbing variation on back-rubs. Janet feels her emotions intensely and is in constant need of counselling from resident Psychologist Dr Phil Collins (Irwin).
Operations Manager Dr Theo Craker (Oliver Devlin) has intense feelings for the new Receptionist, Jeremiah (Davies), which are not reciprocated. Meanwhile the Managing Director, Veronica Volkswagen (McNaughton) is desperate to rekindle a social life in the bar despite the constantly inconvenient arrivals of her son Nick Sprogg (Devlin).
That’s my attempt to summarise most of the story content packed into this improvised and never-to-be-repeated one-hour episode. Its evolution is impressively seamless, despite a number of occasions early on when a duo’s attempt to set up a scene is interrupted and seemingly derailed by the insensitive arrival of a third player. Perhaps that is part of director Jonathan Price’s strategy to increase the risk factor and get the adrenaline pumping.
It is certainly a riveting experience and just as potentially addictive as any good soap-opera.
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