THE 21ST NARCISSUS

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

10/07/2015 - 25/07/2015

Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2015

Production Details



21st Narcissus is a montage of modern day meetings and lost souls searching for a personality.

Three girls form a bond through their love of a popstar on Twitter. 

A boy and a girl accidentally meet on Facebook and build a friendship. 

On Tumblr, a boy uploads pictures of himself.

Named Auckland’s Most Exciting Playwright by Metro Magazine in 2014, two time Playmarket Playwrights b4 25 winner Sam Brooks holds a mirror up to the social media generation with a play about hanging out on social media and meeting someone who is into Avril Lavigne as much as you are, building a friendship between screens, and learning to love yourself. 

Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre 2015
10 – 25 JULY, BATS THEATRE, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
9.30pm
BOOKINGS:
book@bats.co.nz / 04 802 4175 / www.bats.co.nz
$18 Full Price – $45 Season Pass (see all 3 plays)
$14 Concession – $36 Season Pass
$13 Group 6+ – $36 Season Pass
$10 School – $25 Season Pass

Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre is proud to be back in new (old) BATS for their 21st Festival of exciting new New Zealand works entirely created by dedicated, innovative, aspiring young theatre makers.

For 21 years Y&H has run a mentoring programme for 15-25 year olds, encouraging pathways into the theatre industry in all aspects of the craft. We are sincerely excited to be back home at BATS Theatre, and to share three new exceptional plays with you.

Our 2015 season explores social media, self-reflection, and homicidal tendencies – so come and try something different as we showcase some of the best young talent in Wellington.  

6.30pm: How To Catch A Grim Reaper written by Helen Vivienne Fletcher, directed by David Lawrence
8pm: The Presentation Of Findings From My Scientific Survey Of The First 7500 Days Of My Life Done In The Interest Of Showing You How To Live Better Lives written by Uther Dean, directed by Sally Richards
9.30pm: The 21st Narcissus written by Sam Brooks, directed by Uther Dean



Youth , Theatre ,


Comedies with tragic undertones

Review by Laurie Atkinson 23rd Jul 2015

For its 21st birthday, Young and Hungry is celebrating with three short plays. They are all comedies with tragic undertones and they will appeal to their target audience. Each play, however, needs cutting by 10 minutes. The plays cover the positives and the negatives of social media, the comedy and tragedy of intense self-reflection, and the grieving young coming to terms with death.

With Sam Brooks’ The 21st Narcissus, given a stylish and captivating production by Uther Dean, assisted by Andrew Welsh’s AV and set design, Jessica Brien’s choreography and Caitlin Foster’s lighting, we are in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, hashtags and the like. Everyone is dressed in white including Kyle, the 21st Narcissus, played by Oscar Fitzgerald who role takes selfies for his adoring fans on Tumblr. [More]

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Lost in cyberspace dodging debris

Review by John Smythe 11th Jul 2015

You have to be Facebook-savvy, at least, to get this play. Those who are may know the feeling of being marooned in a maelstrom of status updates, likes, comments, shares, omfgs, wtfs, lols and the like before managing to make your overdue re-entry from cyberspace. It’s a feeling of guilt-tinged regret that this was an hour-or-more you will never get back.

Sam Brooks’ The 21st Narcissus, directed by Uther Dean, engenders a similar response. There is no doubt the world they depict here is a thing, albeit a virtual thing – which is the point. And bringing the online world onstage can make for stimulating theatre, as Ralph McCubbin Howell and Kerryn Palmer proved in last year’s Y&H festival with the brilliant Second Afterlife (revived this year at Circa).

I assume the 21st in the title refers to the century so the flawlessly handsome Kyle (Oscar Fitzgerald), who tries out Facebook and Tumblr before setting up his own selfie-festooned Blog, is the new Narcissus. To be fair he would rather blog about Greek Mythology (his favourite thing) and his experiences of such things as going to a supermarket at 3am. But his followers are as shallow as a mirror so he accedes to their clamour, lets them know he’s a big fan of Avril Lavign and Cheryl Cole (I had to Google them: they’re real), posts more and more selfies wearing fewer and fewer clothes, falls in love with his virtual self and virtually drowns in his own self-image.

It’s a great idea and splendidly staged, utilising Andrew Welsh’s AV design and set of aluminium box frames, each with one translucent panel for concealment and projection. But the gradual progression through this plotline becomes repetitive, which doubtless reflects reality, and predictable, which may be valid given it is based on the Echo and Narcissus myth from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

What’s missing, however, is the Echo dimension: someone who truly falls in love with Kyle only to be rejected as he is sucked into the vortex of his own blog; someone who could then be one of the distinctive recurring voices among his increasingly avid followers but who is not recognised by him, or simply gets lost in the noise of it all.

What works much better is the developing online relationship – via private messaging presumably – between Julia (Adeline Shaddick) and Jordan (Peter Rogers). They connect with each other accidentally and just happen to live in the same town (yet no surprise is expressed at this convenient coincidence). As with all the others (see below), their online ‘speech’ patterns are superbly observed. The added bonus is that we get to observe them over relatively extended periods and their un‘spoken’ reactions – hers especially – are among the most eloquent moments in the whole production. This is the one part of the play that allows us to care.

Punctuating these two main storylines are serried ranks of online ‘friends’ posting their comments /opinions /wants / needs and ecstatic reactions to anything and everything. The staging represent ‘scrolling down’ as the chorus – Jacob Brown, James Douglas, Brontë Fitzgibbon, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Dara Flaws, Simon Howard, Isadora Lao, Kelsey Robson, Eliza Staniland and Jane Wills – contribute brief snatches of animated voice and glimpses of broad-brush character, quite a few times.

A trio of girls – Fitzgibbon, Lao and Wills, I think – cluster aside from time-to-time and their catty little status games offer brief moments of interest amid the randomised welter of words. One recurring and relatively unifying element is their shared excitement at the possible tour downunder of (fictitious) teen icon Amber Smence (Rose Cann), who makes a number of grand entrances to grace her fans with updates.  

There is some lip-synching and dancing to counterpoint the word-words-words, and everyone is fully committed to their roles. But if I had control of the mouse I’d be tempted to point at the X and click well before it ends. Except I do want to know what happens with Julia and Jordan so I hang in there … and omg, just when something real is about to happen, the stage/page times out.

There must be a word for this semi-addictive experience of being adrift in cyberspace and having to dodge flying debris while searching in vain for something of interest, only to glimpse something now and again before another debris shower gets in the way.

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