The Elms Te Papa on Mission Street, Tauranga

31/01/2018 - 11/02/2018

Production Details

Part of the fun of presenting outdoor theatre is finding new venues and introducing them to audiences who might never have been there before and so for February 2018 Twice as Good Productions is very excited to be venturing into new territory and bringing Oscar Wilde’s hilarious comedy The Importance of Being Earnest to the beautiful and historic venue of The Elms Te Papa on Mission Street in Tauranga.

Show dates are
Wednesday January 31st,
Thursday February 1st,
Friday February 2nd,
Sunday February 4th,
Monday February 5th,
Wednesday February 7th
Thursday February 8th
Friday February 9th and
Sunday February 11th
(there are no Saturday evening performances due to weddings at the venue).

There is something very magical about watching a live theatre production under the stars so come join us and bring a picnic or order a delicious hamper from Lemongrass Catering – please note that Belinda needs 48 hours notice for hamper orders. There will be a bar serving local award winning Leveret Estate wines and snacks available. Seating is limited so bring a picnic rug or beach chair.

Tickets are available through TicketDirect with an earlybird discount of 10% until December 24.

Algernon – Cameron Buchanan
Jack – Michael Hayles 
Cecily – Jazzy Axton
Gwendolen – Arumia Hayles
Lady Bracknell – Sarah Bate
Miss Prism – Anne Marie Lawler
Canon Chasuble – John McCarthy
Lane – Ben Johnston
Merriman – Renee Neilson

Director/ Producer – Suzy Sampson
Costume Designer – Suzy Sampson
Costume and Set Advisor – Richard Moore
Set and front of house Designer – Heidi Ellicott O'Donnell
Production Manager – Jeremy Jones
Stage Manager – Sion Gwilym

Theatre , Outdoor ,

Luscious venue and moments of brilliance

Review by Vivienne Quinn 03rd Feb 2018

In any outdoor theatre production, venue is the key – get the venue wrong and the production is bound to fail. What a fantastic decision it was then, for Suzy Sampson (Director, Producer and Founder of Twice as Good Productions) to choose to set her production of The Importance of Being Earnest at The Elms Historical Homestead, near the Tauranga CBD. I am embarrassed to admit to being one of those locals (thirteen years now in the BOP) who have never actually been to the Elms before – always meant to, never quite made it, though I drive past it almost every day. I now vow to return, bring the kids, wander its luscious gardens during the day.

For this evening performance, the main homestead makes an almost magical backdrop as the sky fades through twilight into starry night and gentle purple stage lighting illuminates the house.

As it says in the programme “I’m sure Oscar Wilde would approve” of setting the play in the 1920’s, rather than the 1890’s when it was written. The backdrop would fit any stage in that time-line, but the 1920s setting allows for another of the striking elements in this production – the elaborate, authentic costumes – especially the women cast members, who all look elegant and shimmer in the light in their gorgeous dresses. 

The men’s costumes aren’t quite as striking but strong performances from both male leads (Cameron Buchanan as Algernon Moncrieff and Micheal Hayles as John Worthing) distract from that fact. There is a lovely chemistry between the two of them, fast-paced sparring only occasionally lagging in energy.

This is true of all the main cast: at times they are garbled, at others the timing is perfect. Jazzy Axtons’ Cecily Cardew only really comes into her own in the scene where she squares off against Gwendolen Fairfax (a part handled with style by Arumia Hayles).

The shining delight in this play is of course, the imposing, domineering Lady Bracknell, handled well in this production by Sarah Bate. This is the third show I have seen in the last year featuring this actor and I’m warming to her – she certainly has moments of brilliance as Lady Bracknell. I feel I’d like to see her earthed more thoroughly as an actor though, especially in this sort of character role, as a certain tendency to wave her arms around distracts from the solidity and force this role requires. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in future shows.

As with all out door shows, sound is a big issue. I am happy to see the cast are mic’d as the Elms site backs onto a motorway and the Sulphur Point on-ramp, and there are many moments during the show when the sound of sirens and boy-racers on a Friday night threaten to drown out the show. The actors cope well with this noise but alas, the mic’s do not, with some scenes dominated by sound system failures. I hope they sort this out as the season continues. The show must go on however and it does, with full enthusiasm!

I do recommend coming to see this production – bring a cushion, a blanket, and insect repellent (though beautifully dressed assistants have plenty on hand to offer during intermission if you forget) and while you can bring your own picnic or order one, there is plenty of food and drink available on site. 

The Importance of Being Earnest is on until February the 11th.


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