THE BOY ON THE SWING
05/03/2015 - 06/03/2015
What would you do if you had the chance to meet God?
Counterpoint opens its 2015 season of high quality, locally produced theatre on March 5 with The Boy on the Swing a bold, searching play written by Joe Harbot and directed by Audrey Morgan.
When Earl Hunt stumbles upon a plain business card in the street that reads “Talk to God,” he begins a unique and darkly comic journey to meet his maker. The Hope and Trust Foundation then offers Earl the chance of a lifetime but at what cost?
Morgan is excited to bring Harbot’s play to the Dunedin community, and relishes the challenges that come with putting on a piece about religion: “Nothing is ever really confirmed or denied, and the way that Harbot does that is just brilliant.” When asked what drew her to work with the local, nonprofit, theatre company.
Counterpoint, Morgan said that it was Counterpoint’s commitment to a “high standard of performance” and their focus on bringing accessible theatre “to not only the University and student culture, but to wider Dunedin areas.”
Although Counterpoint productions are renowned for their youth focus, Morgan is embracing the chance to learn from some of Dunedin’s industry greats. Local broadcaster and actor Dougal Stevenson and Fortune Theatre set designer Peter King are offering their knowledge and experience to the cast and crew, helping Morgan create a polished show that she is “delighted” to bring to the Dunedin community.
Unafraid to ask challenging questions, the Boy on the Swing promises to be an intelligent, darkly comic start to the company’s 2015 season.
The Boy on the Swing has two showings only on
March 5 and 6
at the Fortune Theatre Studio.
Tickets are $20 for an adult, and $15 for concessions.
Book online at http://www.fortunetheatre.co.nz/home
call 03 477 8323 or visit the Fortune Theatre Box Office in person.
Visit www.counterpointdunedin.com for more information about upcoming productions
With a special appearance from Dougal Stevenson
Stage Manager: Clementine Flatley
Sound and Light Operator: Anna Sinton
Light Design: Gary Kierle
Stimulating and bizarre with a sense of enjoyment and self-reflection
Review by Alison Embleton 06th Mar 2015
Counterpoint’s 2015 season opener, The Boy on the Swing – by English playwright Joe Harbot – is a simple story on the surface. But as the audience follows main character, Earl Hunt, on his quest for contentment and happiness, the story takes some surprising turns. Ranging from absurd and amusing to eerily sinister, Earl’s interactions with the other characters create the opportunity for him to ask what many would consider life’s important questions.
The set design is brilliant, it transforms from a stark white space into various other settings with simple, fluid movements. Everything in this production has a place and purpose, the actors effortlessly incorporate each scene change into the onstage action. The lighting design is equally effective. Clean and seemingly effortless (though of course it was not), the lighting works wonderfully to make use of the Fortune Studio’s small space. Like the set, there is nothing superfluous to distract from the storyline or the actors.
Central character, Earl Hunt (Nick Tipa, who in this role is endearing and relatable) stumbles across a business card outside his house. After picking it up he calls the number on it as it promises a direct connection with God. What follows is a series of increasingly strange events as Earl deals with the infuriating bureaucracy and alarmingly fast-paced service of the corporation who provide this direct link to the Almighty.
The two founders of the company, Miss Trust (Marea Columbo) and Miss Hope (Sophie Acklin) both act to help and hinder Earl as he progresses through the steps they set in place for him before he can officially meet God. Fantastic acting on the part of both Columbo and Acklin pulls the audience into their strange and compelling ways.
The company’s phone operator, Jim (a delightfully acerbic Hamish Annan), provides another interesting perspective within the play and a special appearance by New Zealand national treasure Dougal Stevenson helps carry the end of the play to a brilliant, if unsettling finish.
Audrey Morgan’s direction is almost flawless: she has brought together all the aspects of this production in surprising and interesting ways. The Boy on the Swing is an unusual play, layering universal human emotion and experience with absurdism and quirkiness. Morgan, along with her cast and crew, have created an engaging production that has been deftly handled and brought to life with abundant enthusiasm.
This production is an excellent choice for the Counterpoint 2015 season launch. Stimulating and bizarre, with a sense of enjoyment and self-reflection that lingers long after the applause, The Boy on the Swing is the culmination of all things good about Dunedin theatre.
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Python and Kafka-esque play on God
Review by Barbara Frame 06th Mar 2015
The Hope and Trust Foundation is a business that arranges meetings with someone who, tests reveal, is God. When Earl impulsively rings its number, he’s subjected first to aggressive marketing, then to pointless questioning, silly games, depressing little homilies and something that starts to look like an inquisition. And when he gets to see the Man Himself – well, what on earth do you say?
The Boy on the Swing, by Joe Harbot, has been produced by local company Counterpoint and is skilfully directed by Audrey Morgan.
Performances are polished. Nick Tipa plays Earl, a young and very English version of Everyman – an average and passive consumer, but endearing in his acquiescence to Hope and Trust’s absurdity. Sophie Acklin, Marea Columbo and Hamish Annan play its management and staff, priding themselves on their efficiency but all too often tripping over their own lack of real purpose.
And someone called God, reduced to a commodity whom Earl has paid to see, is portrayed by Dougal Stevenson. In a guest appearance for this production, he shows us something of the responsibilities and the sheer dreariness of being omniscient and in charge of the universe.
I have no idea what theologians would make of all this, but it adds up to a brilliant night at the theatre. The play has its own quirky, understated humour, with flashes of Kafka and Monty Python. It’s a little unsettling, but smartly funny in a way that will have you beaming with delight rather than rolling in the aisles.
This is the first Counterpoint production I’ve seen and I look forward to seeing more of their work. Catch the show while you can – the short season will end on Friday.
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