07/10/2008 - 25/10/2008
They are in Arthur’s car, heading north. Eb, Mo, Jordyn and Arthur are 18, restless, bursting with life and at the same time secretly wound up tight. They will travel 1096kms. Along the way they’ll get wasted, fall out and fall over. They’ll tell lies and confess the truth. By road’s end they’ll have faced their fears and come to know themselves and each other better than they ever did before. At Cape Reinga, the leaping place of the spirits, they’ll stand in the sun and shout and dance like crazy.
The Cape is funny and true, full of tenderness, energy and exuberance. Vivienne Plumb has focused her play on the taut moment of transition from youth to adulthood. But The Cape can stand as an acknowledgement and celebration of rites of passage at any age – the fearful, bewildering, thrilling experience when the past is shed or stripped from us and we step out towards the undiscovered.
The Cape has been performed in Wellington and Auckland. In August it be produced in Christchurch at the Court Theatre. In October it will open in Dunedin.
The Cape is a ‘road play’, set in Arthur’s car and at various stops along the route from Wellington to Cape Reinga. The time is 1994. It is before ‘P’ and before ‘Fantasy’, before everyone owned a mobile phone. It is the year Kurt Cobain died. The soundtrack features the great hip hop and grunge sounds of around that time.
The Dunedin production
The play will perform at the Playhouse Theatre in October. The Cape will be a fully professional production, with all the production standards and values that that implies. Pre-production has already begun. Rehearsals will commence in August and will be held in the evenings and on weekends – an extended rehearsal period designed to accommodate study and other work commitments of the cast. The play will be cast exclusively from Dunedin.
The Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin Oct 7 – 25th 8pm
Eb: Matt Johl
Arthur: Johnny Appleby
Jordyn: Luke Agnew
Mo: James Lee
Produced by Clare Adams - producer
Martyn Roberts - designer
Natalia Schwarz - Stage Manager & Sound Operator
Janis Chang - Lighting Operator
Review by Emma Shaw (Year 13, Logan Park College) 13th Oct 2008
The Cape: a classic coming-of-age play about growing up, moving on and having a few jolly good laughs-till-they-hurt.
Arriving at the usually oh-so-familiar Playhouse Theatre on Albany Street I was struck by a whole new look. The stage curtains had been removed, making the small space seem far more open. There were also no proper wings and with a badly painted rear wall, the doors to backstage and the stairs to the top floor all clearly visible, an effective 90s grunge feeling fell about the theatre.
This set the scene for four 18 year old lads, from various (yet equally screwed) backgrounds, to hop in the car of drug-dealing, strong, silent, and spiritual, Arthur (Johnny Appleby). They are about to head north, from Welly, to The Cape. For the next hour and a half I was to be fixed to the action in front of me, caught up in a believable story which anyone who has ever been on a road trip should be able to relate to.
I laughed hysterically at the hyper antics of Eb (Matt Johl), a character who kept the whole play fun. Even at the most serious of times, Eb would soon bring us back down appropriately with a humourous line, or even just a simple movement – like the generic ‘that went over my head’ motion in response to poetry read aloud by Mo (James Lee), a character who turns out to have more than just a bad hangover and an appetite for moving poetry. His fabulously camp friend Jordyn (Luke Agnew), who the other two trippers have only just met, is the only one who seems to be able to see that Mo’s constant chucking isn’t explained away by "too much drinking."
Each of the very different characters was important to keeping the story going, but it was Eb who won me over as he exclaimed he "hated" this and "hated" that. Matt Johl played Eb so well that it was a shock to see him snap out of character between scenes to shift the set around. Suddenly this fidgety fellow was just a normal bloke moving about the stage in a steady, controlled manner.
These set changes didn’t detract from the play at all, as a very appropriate 90s soundtrack (fully digged the tunes – Kyuss anyone?!) accompanied the four actors’ swiftly changes of the simple set’s various sized boxes. These boxes became anything from the stark white of an Auckland apartment, to Arthur’s car, to the point itself at Cape Reinga: their destination.
As I plan my own road trip as an 18 year old this summer, watching The Cape, I think: that will be me. Like these four boys, I’ll break down, I’ll come into strife, I’ll leave yesterday behind and head into tomorrow, I’ll laugh, I’ll cry, I’ll eventually reach that destination (hell I don’t even know where my that is exactly) – and that it will be magical. I’ll escape day-to-day life in an all too familiar city, even if only for a short while…
Even if the play is targeted at a younger audience, I think anyone who has grown up in the real NZ, and experienced a good Kiwi road trip (even if it was a couple of decades ago, even if it was in a car with a "sheet of taped plastic or bit of cardboard" as a window), can enjoy this brilliant piece of work written by Vivienne Plumb and directed expertly by Simon O’Connor.
The play leaves things open to interpretation, not every little loose end is tied up or over-explained. You can leave the theatre coming up with your own explanations about things like how the boys (or are they now men?) are better off at the end of it all.
The slight hiccups within dialogue will only improve as the season moves on and the only things I didn’t like were the rushed, mumbled explanation of how Arthur gets out of a bad situation where he loses everything except for somehow his car, and dude! Where were the Cobain-style flannel shirts?!
But hey, details, details, ’tis only minor things I disliked, the rest of the play was superb (especially due to little things like the chip sammy Arthur chows down, and the "I’m going to get pies" exit), so it makes up for anything bad.
If I’m doing the whole stars outta five thing, this play’d get a solid four bro. I well recommend this to any Kiwi theatre-goer. It runs until 25th October.
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