The Continental Monologues

Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

11/08/2010 - 13/08/2010

Production Details

Seven monologues. Seven new writers. Seven new takes on the world.

From Africa to Antarctica the whole world is covered.
Comedy, Tragedy, Macabre, Surreal. There’s something for everyone.
This will be the best monologues yet!

WRITERS: Dwayne Cameron, Alexander Gandar, Renee Lyons, Drew Munro, Peter Salmon, Claire Van Beek, Martyn Wood.

PERFORMERS: Isla Adamson, Dwayne Cameron, Carl Dixon, Lara Fischel-Chisholm, Mick Innes, Renee Lyons, Lucy McCammon

AUGUST 11th, 12th, 13th  8pm
Te Karanga Gallery   208 K’road

Cosmopolitan occupations

Review by Nik Smythe 12th Aug 2010

The Continental Monologues is the latest showcase in what’s become a bi-monthly event helmed by Tom Sainsbury, not only Auckland’s most prolific writer but now also the humbly self-appointed mentor for newcomers to the art of scriptwriting. 

The seven short one-handers of varying lengths play out over 70 minutes. They are by fledgling, mainly first-time playwrights from elsewhere in the theatre and film industry, directed by Sainsbury and performed by accomplished actors.

In the corner of the friendly Te Karanga gallery space sit two solid wood tables, chairs and stools before a simple black screen that looks like wings but as far as I recall is barely used, if at all, as each actor appears from the restroom area, sometimes crossing each other upon exit and entrance.

The titles are simply respective names of the seven continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America, Australasia and Antarctica. It would be a tall order really to expect such short, personal vignettes to sum up each continent in any comprehensive way, in fact almost every story is actually cosmopolitan in nature. 

The first piece, Africa by Martin Wood and starring Lara Fischel-Chisholm, is quietly dramatic, engaging and concise: An American paleontologist records an oral report on some prehistoric human footprints she’s studying in equatorial Africa to her partner Scott back home, but she’s clearly preoccupied with something altogether more personal…

Renee Lyons wrote and performs Asia, about an ex-pat Korean woman who escaped to New Zealand with a broken heart and has had some adventures since. Lyons’ Asian characterisation is extreme, but remarkably believable (so long as she can keep her black wig on*) and her ability to attempt a Scottish accent in a Korean one is a feat in socio-linguistic dexterity.

Europe – Brian William by Alexander Gandar features Carl Dixon as Brian, a New Yorker recounting (and again, recording) a harrowing extensive road-trip with his brothers through the old world, knocking back a shot of clear liquor for each country he visits. Grim and tragic, the unusual twist offers the paranoid idea of hereditary evil.

Drew Munro’s South America stars Mick Innes as a grouchy, potty-mouthed Australian relief teacher called in to cover a senior high-school geography class. Only the regular teacher hasn’t left a lesson plan, so instead the cranky old letch busies himself hitting on girls less than a third his age, and divulging everything he knows about South America – mainly football and drugs. Innes’ odious characterisation is a dark-comedic highlight, as are his burnt orange walk-shorts.

Mental in-patient Bessie (Isla Adamson) in Peter Salmon’s North America – U.S.A.#1 could actually be from anywhere in the western world the way she obsessively mimics ubiquitously American television product while mindlessly surfing from cooking show to hard-talk journo show to infomercials, tele-evangelists, movies et cetera. In fact I seem to recall her nurse had a Kiwi accent?

Australasia – Where The Bloody Hell Are Ya?, written by Claire Van Beek and performed by Lucy McCammon, is another hilarious depiction of a most heinous specimen of humanity: Jenny is a classic Australian bleach-blonde bimbo whose reserves of self-centred bigotry make Paris Hilton look like a philanthropist. In the course of a single speed-date with hapless kiwi sap Steve, Jenny unwittingly and obliviously manages to convince him and anyone watching that she’d be one to roundly avoid.

The closing monologue, Antarctica, is also performed by its playwright, Dwayne Cameron. What begins like another earnest drama about a man stranded with no food in a remote Antarctic outpost, becomes a surreal journey into drug-induced psychic phenomena, exploring ecology, global politics and the seemingly inevitable existential dilemma. A strong and satisfying conclusion to an effective anthology of short solo works.

*Probably the closest I’ve come yet to writing ‘lol’ into a review…
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