The Wine Cellar, St Kevins Arcade (K Rd), Auckland

08/06/2010 - 12/06/2010

Production Details


In June 2010 the back room of the Wine Cellar will be converted in to a theatre space for Redmond Barry Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Belber’s TAPE-  an intricate and fascinating piece of theatre that poses some challenging questions about a high school trauma that gets aired ten years later. 

The back room, more commonly known for its musical acts and gigs, is not being changed at all though the bed and appliances may be a little unfamiliar to the indie crowd that The Wine Cellar is home to. What’s most unpredictable is how Auckland audiences will react to a setting that is neither the essence of a theatre or a gig space. Attacking a genre perhaps better known by Wellington audiences, Toi Whakaari graduate Romy Hooper playfully creates a site specific piece in order to capture the grit, grime, drugs and booze of TAPE.


TAPE is a timely refutation to roles of submissiveness and in the most unlikely of circumstances empowers those who ‘fake it’. The performance, directed by Hooper, revolves around two men in a motel room (played by Devlin Bishop and Paul MacDiarmid) contesting for dominance over the memory of young, helplessly attractive lass from high school. Enter grown up Amy Randall, an accomplished and not so waif attorney who interrupts their fantasy with some of the most morally conscious questions of the piece.

Was there intercourse? Yes.
Did it get rough? Yes.
Was it consensual? Well…

You can’t rape the willing…or can you?

Hooper hopes that she can put the onus back on the audience to answer this question.

The Wine Cellar (back room), St Kevins Arcade (K Rd)
Tuesday 8th June- Saturday 12th June
Shows 8:30pm each night and a midnight show on Saturday
Tickets $15 on the door or $10 if you pre-book on Facebook under the Redmond Barry Theatre Company page

Actor/Director: Romy Hooper
Actor: Devlin Bishop
Actor: Paul McDiarmid

Set Design: Alejandro Davila

Gritty and witty psychological roller coaster

Review by Sian Robertson 09th Jun 2010

*** Warning: I’ve tried not to give too much away, but reading this review might spoil some surprises. Skip the last paragraph if you’re worried about this. ***

The Wine Cellar, with its scruffy intimacy and comfy couches, is the perfect venue for a play that takes place entirely in a trashed hostel room. We get up close and personal with three high school friends as events bring them together into a fraught and joyless reunion ten years on. The facts unfold for the characters at the same time as for the audience, through their jibes, interrogations, accusations and admissions.

Vince has come up to Auckland from ‘the Tron’ to see the festival premier of high school friend Jon’s first film. Jon visits Vince in his hostel room. They haven’t seen each other for years and it doesn’t take long for things to get a bit competitive with Jon pontificating on why he thinks Vince’s girlfriend recently ended their relationship and Vince getting defensive.

As light-hearted as they are on the surface, things move into more dangerous territory, revealing that Vince has a bone to pick that he’s been nursing since the party on the night of their high school graduation. He’s determined to get the facts straight about what really happened between Jon and Amy, Vince’s high school girlfriend. 

Tape, written in 1999 by Stephen Belber and made into a film in 2001, was originally set in a Michigan hotel room. This production by Redmond Barry Theatre Company is transposed to New Zealand and set in an Auckland backpackers’, a good move because the immediacy of the script, with its fly-on-the-wall approach, benefits from being in a familiar setting relevant to the audience.

Devlin Bishop plays the pompous filmmaker, Jon. On opening night Bishop’s performance was a bit stiff at first, but he relaxed into it later on. Paul MacDiarmid plays the drug-dealing slob Vince, who enjoys winding Jon up, to see how far he can push him, and eventually gets a confession out of him. MacDiarmid is highly entertaining as the self-centred, provocative Vince, who is the easiest character to sympathise with and the easiest to dislike.

Enter Amy (Romy Hooper), the subject of the two men’s tense altercations, who is now a successful prosecution lawyer and is determined to put the past behind her. As the other two get bent out of shape trying to have their points of view aired, Amy is measured and cool, but clearly uncomfortable. As well as playing Amy, Hooper has also done a commendable of directing. 

Belber’s script is grittily naturalistic, witty, and mind-bending in the way it peels back the layers of questionable memory and keeps us (and the characters) guessing as to what really happened.

*** The hook that gets you is that in the end you still don’t know what really happened, nor is it resolved for the characters – or at least they can’t seem to agree. Has time clouded their memories? Are they in denial because it was too painful to remember accurately? Have things just been blown out of proportion? Tape is a psychological roller coaster that you’ll either love or hate or both.
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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