St Andrews Hall, 300 Market Street South, Hastings

31/10/2021 - 31/10/2021

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2021

Production Details

“I invite you to join me, in a voyage into the past, to that territory of the heart we call childhood.”

Bruce Mason’s quintessential Kiwi classic chronicles the friendship between a 12-year-old boy and the wild-limbed Firpo. Through the boy’s eyes we see the wonder of life on a perfect beach, in a perfect 1930s New Zealand, during a perfect summer. It’s a world of magic and transformation, where anything can happen and miracles seem possible.

Firpo is a social outcast who dreams of winning an Olympic medal. When the boy sets out to help Firpo make his dream a reality, ignoring his father’s rebukes and community ridicule, a battle rages between the eternal optimism of childhood and the harsh pragmatism of adulthood.

Gliding effortlessly between flights of poetic fancy and blunt everyday speech, The End of the Golden Weather is New Zealand storytelling at its very best.

Bruce Mason was one of the most significant playwrights in Aotearoa’s theatrical history. Writing with courage and insight, he was a lover of language and a champion of the underdog. Between 1959 and 1978, Bruce toured the country, telling uniquely Kiwi stories about emerging identity, cultural cringe and social difference. From church halls to country shearing sheds to the Edinburgh Festival, Bruce would play anywhere to any audience.

2021 marks the centenary of his birth. To celebrate his extraordinary legacy, actor Stephen Lovatt is collaborating with director Shane Bosher and the Bruce Mason Estate to make his greatest solo works resound for a new age. Timeless. Universal. Distinct. This alongside ‘Not Christmas, but Guy Fawkes’ is a double-shot not-to-be-missed theatrical encounter with a master craftsman.

St Andrews Hall, Hastings
Sun 31st October 2021
2pm and 7.30pm
Adult $44.00
Concession $34.00 

If you have any issues buying your tickets, please contact the festival office on 06 651 2487 between the hours of 9am – 4pm or email the team


Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr 30 min

Captures all the realities

Review by Ken Keys 01st Nov 2021

An abbreviated Hawkes Bay Arts Fest has managed, somehow, to survive Covid restrictions. And the final ‘official’ performance on Sunday evening?  Most appropriately, Bruce Mason’s NZ Classic, The End of the Golden Weather performed by Stephen Lovatt.

Sadly, it was meant to be a Double Bill. The End of the Golden Weather was to run in tandem with Not Christmas, but Guy Fawkes, Mason’s autobiographical piece which, by contrast, is perhaps more challenging to our NZ Self-Perception.

However, Mason’s beautifully-written, epic, one-man drama, superbly enacted by Stephen Lovatt, is the perfect closing chapter to the Festival.

Presented, as so many of Mason’s solo performances were in the 60s and 70s, in a Hastings Church Hall, on a bare stage, with one chair and no ‘effects’, the story of a 12-year-old boy’s loss of innocence, set in the Depression-era, in 1935, is vividly brought to life by Lovett in a high-energy, emotionally-charged physical and verbal tour de force”

A nuanced performance by Lovatt captures perfectly the almost mythical quality of the story’s setting, Takapuna Beach (“Te Parenga” in the story): the blazing summer sun, Rangitoto in all its moods looming in the distance, the rocks, the Pohutakawa, the salty air, the beach itself … One can see it! Smell it! Taste it!

And then the diverse, at times eccentric, personalities, wonderfully characterised by the actor: Sgt Robinson, “Gnarled as a nut”, sweating under his Police helmet, abusing the “disgusting”, “half-naked” young sun-bathers; the pious Pastor Thirle, with his North of England Accent; Miss Effie Brett; not least, the boy’s own Father, Mother, siblings, seemingly endless Aunts and Uncles …

Comedy? Of course. The Christmas Concert, with the father and his routine ‘demented-surgeon’ performance, followed, however, by ‘Tragedy’, the boy’s own disastrous little play, sabotaged by his incompetent younger brother, but then the tearfully touching moment when the brother confesses that he had been “scared”.

These poignant moments, with a confused 12 year-old, are captured beautifully by Lovatt. Similarly, the darker elements, as the outside world begins to impinge on the boy’s psyche, such as the harsh realities of the Depression.

But central, of course, to the boy’s journey is the sad story of ‘Firpo’, “thin as a spoon … training for the Olympics” in his disturbed mind. As Firpo, crazily-wide-eyed, moving in spasms, Lovatt is superb! Exuberant and crazy, Firpo befriends the somewhat frightened boy, who becomes his greatest supporter. When Firpo’s fantasy of winning the running race on the beach comes crashing down and the boy hears the hurtful mockery, then life seems even more disjointed.

It is timely to be reminded, yet again, that it was in the era of Richard and Edith Campion’s financially precarious New Zealand Players, our only professional theatre, Mason’s ever-green master-piece laid a foundation for the countless inexpensive, easily tourable solo plays that have captured a wide spectrum of life in New Zealand in the seven decades since.

Eighteen years after Mason’s death on the last day of 1982, Peter Vere-Jones was the first to be granted the right to perform The End of the Golden Weather solo, when Te Papa wanted something iconic to usher in the new millennium. Lovatt was next, in 2006 and 2007, between which he commenced his annual rendition of ‘Christmas at Te Parenga’ at Takapuna on Christmas Day. Last year in Dunedin, Matt Wilson performed it (directed by Lisa Warrington).*

Just as one is struck by the stylistic parallels with Dylan Thomas, so Mason and J M Synge (Playboy of the Western World) were both transformative influences for theatre in their respective countries. Narrative-wise, the innocence of the 12 year old boy in the Mason play is overtaken by some harsh social realities; in Synge’s beautifully poetic drama, the ‘heroic-glamour’, the ‘romance’ of Christy’s arrival gives way to the mundane reality of the ‘non-murder’ and the horrible leg-burning. Hence, ‘The Night of the Riots’ against the play in Dublin).

Synge said, “the airiest poetry and the most purple prose must have their roots in the soil.”

Mason’s play is real and Lovatt’s performance captures all the realities.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* [Raymond Hawthorn adapted The End of the Golden Weather as a full cast Theatre Corporate production in 1981, directed by Paul Minnifie. Murray Lynch adapted and directed another full cast version (Tantrum, 1987; Downstage, 1990; Auckland Theatre company, 2011). Meanwhile Ian Mune’s screenplay adaptation premiered in 1991. – ed] 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo