The Bomb

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

13/05/2007 - 24/06/2007

Production Details

Written and directed by: Anders Falstie-Jensen


Are you a leader or do you need to be led?

The Trailer is online! Watch it here

From a worn down missile silo in a godforsaken former Soviet republic a 50 megaton thermonuclear warhead has found its way to Lisa and Peter’s living room. It’s armed, the timer is set, everything is going according to plan.

But then Lisa gets second thoughts. Is vaporising Auckland taking things a bit too far?
Featuring napalm carrying suicide skydivers and a big nuclear weapon in the hands of a mysterious organisation called The Children of Gaia, The Bomb is a dark and thought provoking comedy. It is about fanaticism. It’s about hoping the people that lead you know what they’re doing. It’s about being able to make a decision. Hopefully the right one.

The Rebel Alliance is delighted to present a new play about wanting to change the world. Right now.

Liesha Ward Knox
Russell Pickering
Catherine Nola
Michael Downey
Jo Lees
Richard Rugg

Set Design: Stephen Bain
Lighting Design: Bonnie Burrell
Sound Design: Eve Gordon

Theatre ,

Activism satirised with youthful freshness and originality

Review by Nik Smythe 15th Jun 2007

Now and then we all dream of blowing stuff up, I know I have.  Perhaps that’s why it’s not really very hard to suspend disbelief in this most preposterous of scenarios.  A cell group of four twenty something activists in Auckland, working for their revered leader of the militant left wing sect ‘Gaia’ (purposely or not borrowed from a the excellent 80’s miniseries Edge of Darkness?) purloin a nuclear warhead as ammunition, so to speak, in their negotiations with the government to meet their ideological demands.  

Director Anders Falstie’s original script takes humour over realism at every opportunity, thus we are constantly reminded it’s not real.  The stakes are high, the action’s going down in my own back yard, but ultimately I wasn’t so much drawn in by any element of suspense so much as listening out for the next witty line, of which their are many.  You can get a bit of an idea looking at Chris White’s blockbuster thriller type movie trailer on YouTube:

There are also reflective stretches of non-action, as the characters mull and digest the implications of what they’re doing.  At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, the Herald Theatre’s awkward seating arrangement makes it harder for the audience to keep involved at these inward times without some conscious effort.  However besides those quiet moments making us work a bit more I must commend the work of Falstie and set designer Stephen Bain who actually take the best possible advantage of the difficult space with a split-level stage that separates the radical protesters from the authorities, and a few clever surprises to boot.

Lizzie, played with a cold determination by Jo Lees, is the staunchest, seemingly most ‘trained’ of the group, although it’s her detestably new-age boyfriend Johnny (Rebel Alliance co-founder Michael Downey) who leads the unit.  He has all the typical smug self-importance of middle management, only it’s in a job where he may well stand to destroy a city, killing hundreds of thousands and decimating the environment in the name of humanitarianism and ecology.  Of course, they plan to then return to the earth reborn as the animal of their choice so it’s not that disastrous at all really.

Russell Pickering’s character Peter is a naively idealistic pseudo-intellectual, deadly serious and uptight with an occasional attempt at poetic sensitivity.  Peter is less authoritative than Johnny but equally pompous.  By contrast, as naively pseudo-non-intellectual Lisa, Leisha Ward-Knox gets the most sympathy from us.  This is partly due to her occasional questioning of the validity of their plan, as much as the abundantly charming natural stage energy Ward-Knox always brings to her roles.

As strong and believable as their performances are, we are left to wonder about the backgrounds of these young terrorists – what transpired to bring each of them into the fold?  There is a definite sense of children playing at espionage, matched if not bettered by the Prime Minister (Richard Rugg), a classically sadistic fat prick.  If any one character in the story could hope to convince me that Gaia’s righteousness is justified, it is this odious man. 

A more logically minded authority is Catherine Nola’s Helena, chief of police, expresses an ironic southern man type persona which is an amusing concept but not entirely convincing.  The point behind Helena’s blokeish manner, not to mention her being in the latter stage of pregnancy, is not very clear beyond a vague contrast of life and death, and the hypocrisy of violent law enforcement – ideas also dealt with elsewhere in the play. 

Bain’s set, which I presume extends to the somewhat homemade looking bomb, shows a clear affinity with grimy inner city suburb student flatsThe layout is effective in combination with Bonnie Burrill’s lighting design and Eve Gordon’s soundtrack: as the clock ticks down the bar raises higher with more startling and unexpected theatrical effects so that by the end the audience at large appeared to have been properly entertained. 

Thus, the Rebel Alliance continue in their quest to bring a youthful freshness and originality to the scene of Auckland theatre.  Long may the force be with them.


Michael Wray June 20th, 2007

Casting Richard Rugg as the PM was a nice touch... Rodney Hide, anyone? I'd like to publicly thank the Herald Theatre. On May 4, I purchased a ticket for this show on the Ticketek website for the June 18 show. When I arrived to collect my ticket on the 18th, the theatre was dark and locked - there was no June 18 show! Ticketek had changed my booking to the 19th but neglected to check whether the changed date was acceptable or tell they'd done so. They didn't even apologise when I queried it with them. In contrast, the people at the Herald personally greeted me on arrival to apologise and gave me a complimentary beverage.

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