Hamilton Gardens, Lakeside Court, Hamilton

24/02/2014 - 27/02/2014

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

2013 Winner of Best Production at the New Zealand Theatrefest Competition 

It is evening when the carnival has just departed leaving Bonno behind. The characters arrive one by one wishing to join the carnival, but it is too late to do so. 

There are speeches, mimes, dance and interaction. As morning comes the carnival is heard returning, however, all characters except Bonno find an excuse to leave before it arrives.   

When:  Monday 24 & Tuesday 25 February 2014 @ 6:00pm
Wednesday 26 & Thursday 27 February 2014 @ 6:00pm
Where:  Lakeside Court 
Wet Venue:  Piazza 
Tickets:  FREE 
Genre:  Theatre 
Duration:  35

Liz Sheppard:  Bonno, a circus clown
Lee Owens:  Ruby, a woman of pleasure
Eden Chappell:  the doll, a marionette
Ron Dalton:  Waldo, a cultured beggar

Theatre ,


Solid silliness and light entertainment

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 25th Feb 2014

Another beautiful night in the gardens and a modest group has assembled for another of the HGAF’s free shows. This one is the 2013 winner of Best Production at the New Zealand Theatrefest Competition. We are welcomed and informed of the play’s various accolades and that it is ‘irreal’ (meaning that it is not real).  

A basket of sweets, followed by a koha basket (optional) is handed about. I am always a little bristled when people start shaking the bucket before the show has started, however that is soon a memory. 

We meet Bonno the Pierrot clown (Liz Sheppard), miming her way toward us she explains that the carnival has left, she has been left behind. She speaks with wistful adoration, the kind which distance or loss often lends to a person’s recollections. Lovely. 

Waldo the hobo (Ron Dalton) is along next, looking for the carousel. He is also looking for someone to listen and does a great job with his soap box ranting. Insisting his knowledge is great and obsessed with cycles, he proposes that nothing starts or finishes in this world if it goes around. (A wonderful, if a little confusing, diatribe about beginnings, middles and ends here… Be prepared!) 

He is also perhaps looking for love… or affection… or perhaps just for attention. It’s difficult to know but he seems to recognise the third player to enter this single group scene. Ruby (Lee Owens) is a lady of the night. She is looking for the Carnival’s great impresario Marvello, who invited her to meet with him. A reason for their meeting is unclear but then the running theme of this 30 minute play is the simple sentence, “That is not explained.” 

Our last meeting is with the Marionette doll (Eden Chappell). She doesn’t speak but Bonno explains that she wants to be a real girl. Great mime skill is shown between the two players as she and Waldo dance, drink, embrace and pluck blooms together. Their silent courtship scenes make for the sweetest moments of the piece.

Then we are acknowledged by all four players and soon the cast is miming breaking down the ‘fourth wall’ to find us. I would have liked to see this played out with a little more humour as humans make for the best playthings, however I suspect as their season progresses this may develop. 

Fourth wall dismantled brick by brick, night is now falling on our cast and one by one they peel away from Bonno. She closes the show as ‘dawn breaks’ and the carnival is set to return. I get a sense of premise, this fictional caper serves to affirm in me that life is like a carousel, an unending cycle.  

I know this is farce but at times it becomes a little too eyebrow-raising weird. I put this down to production design and direction. I feel more could have been made of the precious silence of the piece that in turn would have given so much more power to the words. Whilst Waldo’s soap box rants are impressive (and they are), I feel more weight should have been given to them by his own physicality and that of his fellow actors.

Let this not take away from what is by-and-large a well-rehearsed piece of solid silliness and light entertainment from Hamilton Playbox Theatre.


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