Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

25/11/2008 - 29/11/2008

Production Details

A Tale of Perception and Truth 

Stephen Belber’s Tape, a story of intriguing reminiscence between old high school friends will be held at Auckland’s Basement Theatre, opening on Tuesday 25th of November for five performances only.

Set in a motel room in Lansing, Michigan., Jon, is back in his hometown to see the screening of his new film, an aspiring filmmaker on the verge of hitting it big, he hooks up for the weekend with his best friend from high school, Vince, a volunteer fireman. Jon appears to have moved on since graduating high school some 10 years earlier, whilst Vince is still hung]up on losing Amy, his high school girlfriend, to Jon.

The play unfolds with both men reminiscing about events surrounding their graduation and Vince attempts to pry the truth from Jon, a truth that involves Amy. Within this triangle of so-called friendship, the competition for authenticity, the struggle for control and the fight to be right creates a volatile powder keg that threatens to explode at the discovery of the ultimate truth.

Tape is Craig Hall’s directorial debut, Hall better known for his roles in King Kong, Show of Hands, and Outrageous Fortune will be directing an exciting trio of young yet established Auckland talent. Stephen Fitzgibbon, Benedict Wall and Hannah Marshall none whom are new to the stage or screen are all under 28 years of age. However belying their ages is raw, gripping and at times unnervingly impressive talent.

Tape is a first time production collaboration by John Moffett and Stephen Fitzgibbon.
Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for equity members and students.
Tickets are available at the Basement Box office on the night of the performance.
Opens Tuesday, November 25th 8.00pm
Wednesday, November 26th 8:00pm.
Thursday, November 27th 8:00pm
Friday, November 28th 7:00pm ***
Closes Saturday, November 29th 8:00pm  

Vince:  Stephen Fitzgibbon
Jon:  Benedict Wall
Amy:  Hannah Marshall

Michael Craven

Jatinder Singh

John Moffett
Stephen Fitzgibbon

Tight and tense

Review by Nik Smythe 29th Nov 2008

Stephen Fitzgibbon and Benedict Wall play Vince and Jon, old friends since school.  They are meeting this night at Vince’s motel room in the Michigan town that is premiering Jon’s new film.  When Jon arrives they immediately begin verbally shadow boxing, playfully at first.  It’s made apparent that they had a girlfriend in common, Amy (Hannah Marshall), who lives in this very town working as an assistant attorney.

Invited by Vince, Amy herself enters in later in the piece, thrust fairly headlong into what has developed into a tense standoff between the boys.  Generally the hour long real-time tale is well suspended, and the levels between lucid debate and highly strung scrapping play through like an hour long rollercoaster ride. 

It’s a testament to the spunky young cast that they’re all younger than their 28 year old characters.  As Vince, Fitzgibbons is outgoing and articulate, exhibiting a fresh energy seared with clearly volatile undercurrents.  Wall’s Jon has subtle shades of sanctimonious arrogance of a self-made man on the brink of success, laced with paralysing denial and guilt.  Marshall fairly glows as Amy, the classically self-assured modern career woman, perhaps more vulnerable below her confident surface than she claims?

As the confrontations come to a head, each character’s tune changes enough times that it’s difficult to be certain who’s pretending what, exactly.  Although the action takes place often at very close proximity (a couple of times I was bumped by Fitzgibbon in the front row), the performance is detached just enough so that the ride is not as visceral as it might otherwise be for the audience.  Nonetheless Craig Hall’s directorial debut is satisfactorily tense and tight and the upshot is an accessible work about alienated relationships.

Unfortunately the programme offers no credit for the well-assembled set and costume design, lit with perfunctory grace by Michael Craven by the hand of light/sound operator Jatinder Singh. 

Apologies are due to the company for the tardiness of this review.  It has been a busy week and unfortunately this has just got online on closing night.  I hope that it serves them well for any future projects they may get to undertake, most deservedly.  Something local perhaps?


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