The Graduate

Centrepoint, Palmerston North

27/07/2006 - 02/09/2006

Production Details

Adapted for stage by Terry Johnson


Shy Ben Braddock (Kevin Keys) is home from college with a degree in hand and an uncertain future in mind.  Add to this confusion the aggressive advances by the wife of one of his parent’s best friends, the sexy Mrs. Robinson (Donogh Rees, Shortland Street) and poor Ben is completely lost.  That is until; he meets the girl of his dreams Elaine (Angela Green, Doubt).  One problem: Elaine is Mrs. Robinson’s daughter!  And she (Mrs R) will stop at nothing to ensure that these two lovers remain separated forever!

“Taking a hugely successful film and adapting it for the stage would ordinarily be a very difficult task. Not so in the hands of playwright Terry Johnson” says Simon Ferry Centrepoint Theatre Artistic Director

“In The Graduate he effortlessly brings the disastrous ordeals of Benjamin Braddock to life. This is no museum piece or replica. If you have seen the movie you can expect more, new scenes, greater depth and more laughs. If you haven’t seen the movie you can expect the most unusual sexual odyssey you are ever likely to see”

The Graduate season opens at Centrepoint Theatre on Thursday 27 July and runs through to 2 September.  Bookings are already proving to be popular so don’t miss this once cult novel, a classic film, a quintessential hit of the 60’s now Benjamin’s disastrous sexual odyssey is bought vividly to life on the stage.  This is one comedy-drama not to be missed!

Contains nudity

Book today at Centrepoint Theatre 06 354 5740 or visit their website:

Peter Hambleton - Mr Robinson
Ralph Johnson - Mr Braddock
Lynda Williamson - Mrs Braddock
Angela Green - Elaine Robinson
Kevin Keys - Ben Braddock
Donogh Rees - Mrs Robinson
Laura Turnbill - Stripper and Psychiatrist
Nick Foo - The Priest, Desk Clerk

Director - Simon Ferry
Production Manager - Shelley Irwin
Set Design - John Hodgkins
Lighting Design/Stage Manager - Laurie Dean
Costume Coordinator - Anne De Geus
Operator- John Lepper
Set Construction Guru's - Harvey Taylor, Kim Faulkner, Jarren Jackson

Theatre ,

2 hrs 15 mins, incl. interval

From broad to insightful

Review by John Smythe 14th Aug 2006

Being of the generation that was wowed by the 1967 movie, I find this stage adaptation of The Graduate fascinating, both for its fidelity to the film and its surprising differences.

When Terry Johnson’s play – based on the novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Wallingham and Buck Henry – opened in London (April 2000) with Kathleen Turner as Mrs Robinson, all the focus was on her brief nude scene. This ‘event theatre’ profile got no better when Jerry Hall and Linda Gray took over the role, packing out large West End and Broadway venues with huge ticket prices to match. Perhaps that’s why the show attracted so many vitriolic reviews that hated even the idea of it, let alone its execution.

Now that Centrepoint is doing The Graduate in its intimate theatre at standard prices -with Shortland Street ‘star’ Donagh Rees in THE role, but immediately after she’s reinforced her consummate acting credentials as the uptight nun in Doubt – we have the opportunity to see it more clearly as an insightful play that may help to explain the socio-sexual revolution to a new generation.

That said, the opening scene with a wet-suited Ben Braddock (Kevin Keys) trying to hide out in his room from a graduation party he finds “grotesque”, is played very broadly by those who pursue him: his parents (Ralph Johnson and Lynda Williamson), an ebullient Mr Robinson (Peter Hambleton), then a sexually alluring Mrs Robinson. Rather than let each character be themselves in their self-justified ways, we are treated to a Ben’s-eye view that predigests and prejudges them all as grotesque, leaving us spoon-fed and under-stimulated.

When she finally appears, Angela Green’s Elaine Robinson grounds the production – and Benjamin – in a more focused reality. True love at first sight can do that, it seems, even when denial overtakes it.

Eventually, mostly in the second half, Rees lets us in to Mrs R’s vulnerability. Keys makes us care more about what will happen to Ben, despite his confusion and inconsistent behaviour. Hambleton’s shattered and rather poignant Mr Robinson demands respect. Even Johnson and Williamson’s Mr and Mrs Braddock achieve enough credibility to earn our compassion.

The major surprises come with Elaine getting drunk with her mother after discovering she and Ben have had an affair, and Ben finally dropping the “I am so a man” act at the point when most American ‘rom-coms’ would have him do the opposite.

Because the outcome may not be a happy ending – although it seems to be a triumph for Ben – we are left to wonder what will become of this liaison. Is Elaine right, that he will ruin her life? Might they grow together in an authentic partnership? Or will they see each other through to maturity before going their separate ways?

For baby-boomers, it’s a chance to take a second look at the rebellion, idealism and values that drove our destinies. For our children it may be an eye-opener.


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