Stir Fried Plays 09

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

11/08/2009 - 15/08/2009

Production Details

Short. Sweet. Tasty.
(Now with added sauce)

Take nine fresh new scripts
Add talented young directors and actors
Serve for a tasty night at theatre!

Fresh from the success of last year’s STIR FRIED PLAYS, Stage Two Productions & Theatre of Love serves up its latest delicious recipe of short plays – an evening of nine unpredictable 10minute plays that will charm, provoke, delight and shock.

The show features short plays from up and coming young playwrights: Ashley Milne (Writers Block, 2007 Young Playwright Competition and 2008 Flip the Script Winner) Benjamin Teh (Where the Monsters Are, Lets Make a Baby) Roderick D. Morgan (Ian the Antichrist, Keiran), Jonathan Riley (Bus), Pamela Raia (finalist in Ashland Short Play Festival 07) and fresh new talent, Leigh Fitzjames, Rhiann Munro, Harrison Christian and Rowan French.

The plays deal with a rich smorgasbord of stories, themes and characters. Audiences will find themselves travelling from the Olympic Games, to an online fantasy computer game, to the red light district, to a Reality TV show that stars a robot, a ninja and a monkey.

Stir Fried provides a much needed opportunity for young theatre practitioners to get their work onstage. Leigh Fitzjames is the writer and director of ‘Formalities’ centring on a 21st birthday party that goes wrong. "I find most 21st speeches to be quite superficial. I thought it would be interesting to play with that dynamic and have three totally different characters to deliver a speech and see the effects on the birthday girl". One of the biggest challenges in the rehearsal room is keeping it serious – "we have a little too much fun at times!"

In "Here Lies Lex" writer Rhiann Munro directs a story about a mechanic who discovers he is dead, and is buried next to a pair of Victorian Ghosts at war with each other. Rhiann finds it "nice to see my words coming to life and people on the stage performing what I wrote".

The first season of Stir Fried Plays was so successful that Producer James Wenley had no question about bringing it back again. "The plays selected this year are of an even higher quality and even more entertaining. It is a great format, every ten minutes there is something new for the audience."

A fast-paced show filled with twists, treats and laughs, this is one meal we guarantee you’ll enjoy!

Tuesday 11-Sat 15th August, 7:30pm  
Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre
Students $15 / Adults $20
Door sales

Tasty line up with delicious chunks

Review by Candice Lewis 12th Aug 2009

I breeze in thinking arty folk will be milling about drinking wine; I’m only five minutes late after scavenging for a car park. Alas and eek, such mooching is not acceptable on this fine evening. You will not be admitted if you are even minimally late, and the only reason they let us in is because I sadly confess I am the reviewer.

We are allowed to sneak in and end up sitting really close to the action. This show features nine short plays from young playwrights; it’s a great opportunity for them to learn a lot about the process.

We’ve unfortunately missed the first short play of the evening, Roderick D. Morgan’s The Stick Up Kid. I am sorry to have missed it.

We are in time to catch most of Dark Warrior by Pamela Raia. This is quite clever. Warrior glimpses into a relationship that develops when a couple of ‘gamers’ invest excessive amounts of time in the on-line world. Director Adam King places the ‘gaming action’ centre stage whilst the ‘real world’ takes place either side. The actors, for the most part, are convincing and engaging.

This is followed by God Bless The Losers by Rowan French.  A group of young friends at the Olympic Games village stride onto the stage. The two young men are more interested in screwing than achieving greatness, sharing their shallow opportunistic philosophies with Youth Group glee.

Although energetic in their portrayal, the trio have distracting accents they find difficult to maintain. Ally Xue gets a few laughs as the optimistic and ever-smiling Beulah, but these aren’t characters I develop any fondness for.

Evidently French was inspired by the large amount of condoms that are used in the Olympic Village, yet the play is strangely bereft of sexual tension. It reminds me of the feeling generated by the 1990’s American TV sitcom ‘Saved By The Bell’. I am sure with future writing French will find ways to create a smoother pace with natural characters.

Next on the menu is the quite delightful Here Lies Lex by Rhiann Munro. I suppose death has been done to death, but this graveyard ghost story has some lovely touches. Actor Sian Ellet steals the show as ‘Mrs Williams’, but Nick Gray and Michael Bugbee also show talent in balancing tragedy and comedy. There are a few drawn out or stumbling moments, but overall this is a delicious chunk in the stir fry!

Then wow, just when you’ve swallowed that one, it gets even better. Happy Accident by Jonathan Riley has the distinct advantage of having a good director (Patrick Graham) and talented actors.

Tama Boyle (DJ Frank) and Charlotte Blacklock  (Southside dude) ignite the stage with  natural comedic timing. Blacklock is so amazing as a young guy that for a second I wonder if it is a pretty young dude! I look at her throat. No Adam’s apple.  Man, she is one funny mutha. I laugh so hard I snort. Felix Schafer and Bray Croft play good supporting roles.

The ending doesn’t seem to be very conclusive, it lacks something, yet I am so distracted by the performances that I can’t put my finger on it.

The Docks puts a finger on something though. Possibly French fingers into unspeakable orifices or stuffing pipes full of fine ‘Mexican tobacco’. Harrison Christian’s surreal journey opens with a narration by a French guy (Peter Hibberdine) wearing lots of blue eye shadow. The French characters speak like that cartoon skunk, Pepe Le Pew. Cheese is mentioned a lot. An English geezer with a gimpy, chained sidekick is keen to make cheese but ends up wastin’ time. Blue eye shadow is big in this show. An androgynous working girl nervously throws herself at a cop who I thought had just revealed a preference for men.  Good fun, pass me the cheese.

What’s next? That would be Next written and directed by Ashley Milne. It’s our mate The Afterlife again, but hey, I do enjoy a visit. Milne wisely creates characters that are believable, likeable or at least recognisable. Set in the great waiting room in the sky, four young people come to terms with life as they ponder death.

This is really beautifully paced and the actors are fantastic. Lucy Smith, Ben Moore, Sacha Wade and Nick Gray all live these roles from within. Each actor finds a way to engage with the character they portray, although it would be interesting if the Rabid Christian was allowed more depth.

Depth is definitely achieved when the conversation between Jacob (Nick Gray) and Blake (Ben Moore) takes an unexpected turn. You’ll just have to go and see it!

Formalities is written and directed by Leigh Fitzjames and opens with a guy nervously practising a speech for a friend’s 21st. He speaks of the under-wiring in a too-small bra coming out stabbing him in the gums. She is henceforth known (if I understand this correctly) as DD.

I am puzzled because the beautiful actress in question (Ruby Page) is as slender as a model and missing the obvious physical attributes necessary to the nickname. The delicious but bitchy ‘best friend’, (Nicole Windsor) on the other hand, definitely has the right assets.  I know it sounds petty, but perhaps they could just get one of those pump up bras for Page, so that it isn’t a distraction. Imagine Kate Hudson or Nicole Kidman being called ‘DD’. Maybe I misunderstood and it’s a joke, like calling a tall guy Shorty. If so, forgive me.

Some of the scripting is a little awkward, but that might be because 21sts are awkward. Actors Cam Neelie and Liam Nolan also do a fine job, but it is Windsor who lights up the stage. The idea itself, and some of the more subtle hints at what is really going on with these four friends and lovers, is solid.

The final serving for the evening is Robot vs Ninja, written and directed by Benjamin Teh. Chanel Turner is wonderfully cold and perfectly jerky as Audrey the Robot, and the narrator, Elizabeth Gill, bursts with razzle dazzle charm. The nature of love and illusions is approached in an original and entertaining manner. Gill’s stuttered walking in impossible heels contrasts with the Ninja’s (Phillip White) loose leaping about and martyred whining.

The surprise twist to this doomed love story is refreshing and funny. None of us is ever quite what we appear to be to others, and love is never a matter of control.

I totally recommend this tasty line up, it’s great to see these writers/directors put themselves out there, and I look forward to more servings in the future!
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