BATS Theatre, Wellington

11/02/2012 - 15/02/2012

NZ Fringe Festival 2012

Production Details

Escape to the ‘adventures of Wendy the Wonderful…’

The extraordinary fantastical tale of friendship, courage, love and adventure in the face of all the odds.

Take an evening to be swept up into someone else’s world.

This Fringe show presents Wendy who will introduce you to her life and her three unique friends: Leslie the Lover, Winston the Worrier and Marama the Muss. The company led by Jennifer Martin and Moana Ete give you a brand new play which is being performed at BATS Theatre in Fringe Festival 2012.

Wendy’s life is full of adventure that she enjoys with her most cherished brother. One night, everything is flipped on its head when Wendy is forced to make a life changing decision for them both. Her new friends arrive to rescue her from her desperate circumstances and help her tell this tale of friendship, courage, love and adventure in the grip of adversity. What lengths would we go to protect the ones we love? Where does one draw the line?

Performance Dates: 11th – 15th February (5 shows only)
Saturday – Wednesday: 6.30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre

Ticket Prices:
Adults $16
Students & senior citizens: $14
Fringe Addict: $12
Box Office: 04 802 4176 

Wendy the Wonderful:  Jennifer Martin 
Leslie the Lover: Kenneth Gaffney 
Winston the Worrier:  Simon Leary*  
Marama the Muss:  Bianca Seinafo 
*(Chapman Tripp: Most Promising Male Actor Newcomer, 2011)

Lighting Design:  Morgan Whitfield 
Publicist:  Eleanor Cooke 
Technical Operator:  Ashlyn Smith
Company:  moe&jen 

Talented team explores an idea that could go deeper

Review by Helen Sims 13th Feb 2012

The Adventures of Wendy the Wonderful… focuses on the experiences, both real and imagined, of a girl named Wendy.  It quickly becomes obvious that Wendy’s rich imaginative life, featuring a cohort of imaginary friends named Leslie, Winston and Mara, is the result of a paucity of affection from her parents.  Their attentions are focused on Wendy’s severely disabled brother, also called Leslie. 

As her unmet need for attention grows, Wendy’s imaginings turn darker, and she becomes more reckless as to the consequences.  The short devised play explores whether Wendy is mentally ill, and if so, how she might have been driven to breach the thin line between having an active imagination and being deluded.  

The play opens with all four actors crowded into the ‘suicide door’ of Bats, egging each other on to jump.  They make their way safely down to the stage, where Wendy (Jennifer Martin) is loudly psychoanalysed by Winston (Simon Leary) and Mara (Biana Seinafo).  Leslie (Kenneth Gaffney) casually lounges to the side of the stage, observing the scene.  

It becomes clear that this is play at psychoanalysis, and we are not yet aware that it is parodying very real events.  The play does not follow a linear structure, with scenes moving from past to present.  The ‘picture’ of where Wendy’s adventures have led her, and why, becomes increasingly clearer throughout the piece.  

The subjects of the over-active fantasy lives of children or adolescents, parental neglect and disabled siblings have been canvassed more thoroughly and more sensitively in plays like Mark Schultz’s A Brief History of Helen of Troy and Lucy O’Brien’s Katydid.  The ‘Creator’s note’ in the programme states the work was born out of cast members’ “fascination” with the “mentally insane”. 

All of the performers bring a lot of energy and commitment to the play, but it veers off into some inevitable clichés and is a wholly one-sided account due to being presented from Wendy’s point of view.  Although the devisers/actors’ creative interests might be satisfied, for the audience the work ultimately does not shed much light on the issues it explores.  

That said, some scenes have a painful emotional truthfulness about them.  The best example of this is the scene portraying Wendy’s 10th birthday party.  The sadness and loneliness of Wendy after her brother’s behavioural problems hijacks her party is palpable. 

Coherence and clarity between the scenes looks like it is the product of Adam Donald’s direction, assisted by the lighting and sound design (by Morgan Whitfield and Ashlyn Smith respectively).  I also loved Wendy’s voodoo-like chant – it was still stuck in my head the next day.

With more development, and perhaps the addition of a writer or dramaturg, this devised piece could be the basis of a more polished work of greater depth.  The actors certainly have the talent to.  In its current form, the play falls into the trap of so many works devised by young practitioners of being more exploration than fully formed play.   


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