Sunday Roast

Te Whaea - SEEyD Space, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

01/03/2010 - 06/03/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

2 Actors. 8 Characters. The Giles family is inviting you for dinner.

The beast is fattened and ready for the slaughter. Father’s on carving duty. Mother is on vegetables. Daughters Courtney and Diane have dessert covered. Son-in-law Francois is in charge of looking good while actual son, Anthony, just wants to be left alone. Granddaughter Tamsin wants her desires satisfied. And adopted son, Rupert? Well, he just wants everyone to have a good time…

From the writer of Luv, The Malland Loserand the producers of Mr Marmaladecomes a family tale of love, sibling rivalry and very sharp knives. 

Sunday Roast features Martyn Wood (Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Angels in America) and Renee Lyons (Life is a Dream, Backstory).

"To say Thomas Sainsbury is an exciting new talent in New Zealand theatre is an understatement. He’s the most challenging, down-to-earth, funny and refreshingly unsettling playwright/director I’ve come across in years."-SIAN ROBERTSON

“…a playwright with something to say, and saying it with a theatrical flair that is refreshing and stimulating." THE DOMINION POST

"Thomas Sainsbury is a remarkable talent … I can see him fast becoming a classic playwright of his generation.”THEATREVIEW

The Moving Theatre Company is a co-operative of professionally trained theatre artists brought together by the passion and desire to make work that explores the identity, anonymity and self-image of living in the contemporary city, and to explore the ever-changing nature of relationships in our society. 

Sunday Roast by Thomas Sainsbury 
The Moving Theatre Company 
Dates:  Mon 1 Mar – Sat 6 Mar 
Time:  7:00pm
Venue:  SEEyD Space, Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre
Where/How to book tickets:  Downstage Theatre 04 801 6946
Ticket prices: General: $ 16 Concession: $ 13 Fringe Addict: $ 10 

The Moving Theatre Company 

The sell out season of Sexual Perversitygenerated considerable critical acclaim, The Dominion Post called the production “bold and auspicious” and said it was “a terrific start for the new company.” Similarly Theatreview called the production “crisp and snappy…performed with skill and confidence, ”the actors “brutally brisk and efficient,” and said the production was “attractively marketed and presented, with all the bite and punch to attract a new, younger audience.” 

Our second production Mr Marmaladereceived major critical acclaim and three 2008 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, including Production of the Year and Most Promising New Director. The Capital Times called it “…brilliant.  Brilliantly written, magnificently acted, beautifully directed. It’s the real theatrical deal, the whole package…unforgettable.” Theatreview said it was “…produced with aplomb. The cast shine uniformly…crackling with electrical intensity from start to finish…” and called it “…a precocious play…a precocity that is matched in performance and production.”

Lightweight two-actor comedy bubbles along

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 03rd Mar 2010

Roald Dahl and Shirley Jackson could have well been pleased if they had thought up the plot of Thomas Sainsbury’s latest hour-long feather-light comedy about a nicely dysfunctional family whose monthly ritual of a Sunday roast is sacrosanct, even if Anthony, the eldest son, is a sort of vegetarian – well, he was one for a month having been put off meat by the disgusting side of farming.

Phillip Giles is the paterfamilias but his authority and his health are undermined by his domineering wife, Leanne, who hopes to buy up all the neighbouring houses and farms in the valley so her children can live near by.

However, their daughter Courtney, a female Gordon Ramsay, and her narcissistic husband, Francois, have other ideas. So too do Diane, who has always come last in the sibling rivalry stakes, and her 13 year-old daughter, Tamsin, who wants to be in town where the boys are. And then there is the innocent Rupert, “the temporary son,” who is catnip to Tamsin.

Renee Lyons and Martyn Wood play all the characters on a bare stage except for two chairs. Martyn Wood plays all the male characters as well as Diane who tearfully recalls every put down her parents have made about her.

Both actors have fun switching roles and scenes in nanoseconds and keeping the comedy bubbling along, despite a confusion of Kiwi accents, in this deftly directed piece by Dena Kennedy. 
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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Slicing into the rural rump

Review by John Smythe 03rd Mar 2010

Thomas Sainsbury is so prolific it’s tempting to see his plays as a ‘fast food’ equivalent. But those I’ve seen are much more ‘nutritious’ than that and Sunday Roast is close to being a gourmet meal.

It’s easy to see why actors flock to be in his plays: he has an unerring eye and ear for true – if heightened – Kiwi characters with psychological depth; his sense of dramatic structure ensures interest will never flag; his humour arises from the veracity of his insights and never feels contrived, and the darkness he exposes in our psyches and society with comic precision cannot be easily dismissed.  

Sometimes actors ask Sainsbury to write something for them and in this case (as reported by the author in his programme note) Martyn Wood’s request for a two-hander about a family readily produced a flow of creative juices. One wonders if there is anything Sainsbury has experienced, observed, thought or imagined that will not eventually inspire, or find its way into, a play.

Wood plays five characters, Renee Lyons plays four, and with director Dena Kennedy – using just two plain chairs in a blank space unobtrusively lit by Sean Lynch – they brilliantly manifest them and their rural lifestyles in our imaginations. With unerring accuracy they capture the voices and body postures of their characters so clearly that no costume or prop adornment is required.

Lyons’ Giles family matriarch Leanne, her Kiwi vowels poshed-up from a private school, assuages her pride in their landed gentry wealth by taking underprivileged boys into their homestead and farm, while conniving to acquire yet another property from their “disgraceful” neighbours.  

Wood’s wide-eyed innocent and upwardly-inflected 14 year-old Rupert is suitably grateful, although he does miss his extended and loving family and becomes increasingly bewildered as to why he is kept a virtual prisoner in the flashest bedroom he’s ever known.

Courtenay (Lyons) lives in town and wins the bread by running an eatery while her Cockney wannabe model partner plucks between his eyebrows and attends to his slightly suss ‘beautymobile’. She has anger issues and no way does she intend to move back to town.

The other daughter, Diane (Wood) – “criane Diane” to Courtenay – has huge self-esteem issues sourced in sibling rivalry and is seeing a Therapist (Lyons). Her 13 year-old daughter Tamsin (Lyons) is both compassionate and sexually precocious in her own quest for feeling needed and getting what she wants.

The Giles son, Anthony (Wood), aged 31, still living at home and claims to be getting a business going in cyberspace. He is molly-coddled by his mum and a write-off to his ageing and ailing patriarch dad, Phillip (Wood).

On the last Sunday of every month the family gathers for Sunday Roast, master-minded by Phillip – his description to Leanne of the Valentines-style spread to come is positively orgasmic – and Courtenay always provides the pav. It’s a ritual that takes precedence over whatever else is happening for the family, and anyone who questions it or tries to back out is told the same thing: “It’s tradition!”

The light humour darkens as the play progresses and the ghastly truth rises inexorably towards exposure. Some may guess ahead of the revelation, others are shocked and surprised when it happens. Either way it packs a punch and the final sequence has us wrestling internally with conflicting desires for a happy ending versus a realistic one.

I am told it’s still a work in progress and agree the rather contrived expository monologues could go. It would be good to get to know Rupert more and maybe a process of interrogating its allegorical resonance could refine some details that would enrich the banquet even more.

But as it stands, beyond the wonderful opportunity it provides for excellent ‘less-is-more’ acting and directing, Sunday Roast offers a searing critique of the class system we like to think doesn’t exist in New Zealand as it slices into our rare and bloody rural rump.

This one must stay in the repertoire.
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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