Spoonface Steinberg

The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

27/05/2006 - 17/06/2006

Production Details

Written by Lee Hall
Directed by Tony McCaffrey

Designed by Paul McCaffrey with Toni Jones


A remarkable look at life presented through the eyes of a 10 year-old child, struggling with Autism and Cancer. A story about death which grasps at the joy of living.

Featuring Toni Jones

Theatre , Solo ,

Exquistely crafted writing

Review by Melissa Miles 21st Jun 2006

Spooonface Steinberg by Lee Hall, performed at Court Two in Christchurch last month, was all that its hyperbole heralded it to be – uplifting, funny, and moving: a triumph for the A Different Light Theatre Trust.

The acceptance of death by a ten-year-old autistic girl does not sound the most delightful of topics but A Different Light  was true to its advertising word. It was directed sensitively by Tony McCaffrey, and featured Toni Jones.

The plot is simple. A ten year old autistic girl discovers the beauty and spirituality in every day likfe as she accepts the inevitability of her own imminent death. The play was immediately and ably set off by Paul McCaffreys set. A womb-like hole made of books and above, hard, black spear like poles. Piles of books and desk lamps are the only props.

As the mainly young audience entered Toni Jones was sitting under these black poles protected by her book-womb. We were immediately visually informed of the girl’s separateness from the outside world. The lighting – a series of desk lamps – was a stroke of genius, enabling the actress to light herself as well as employ the lamps as other characters in her monologue.

The actress, as the only living thing on the stage, once again highlighted the autistic person’s sense of near aloofness from the social world. In addition the moving and turning on of the lamps, and the opening and shutting and moving of the books, gives the actress a physical task to do. As the play was originally written for the radio this is a much-needed trick for its interpretation on the stage.

Toni’s performance as the ‘channel’ for the young girls character was excellent, she deftly walked the fine line between playing for laughs and emotional honesty. The fragility in her physicality was sympathetic with a character suffering from cancer.

But the laurels really belong to the writing. Lee Hall – who brought us Billy Elliot – has created an exquisitely crafted piece of writing, which is a perfect vehicle for a philosophical discussion of life, death, god ane prayer, but because of our immediate rapport with the character, it is profound and moving and operatic in its uplifting and poetic end; appropriate for a play about a remarkable girl who takes her strength to die from the heroines of opera and their diva interpreters.

If you get chance to see this production – do so.
(Currently, however, there are no plans to tour this production – ed.)


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council