The Intricate Art of Actually Caring

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

18/03/2010 - 20/03/2010

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

14/06/2010 - 19/06/2010

Centre of Contemporary Art: CoCA, Christchurch

23/07/2009 - 25/07/2009

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

25/05/2012 - 03/06/2012

Alexandra Room, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

17/06/2012 - 17/06/2012

BATS Theatre, Wellington

01/06/2010 - 05/06/2010

Glover Park | Eli's Bedroom, Wellington

10/02/2009 - 28/02/2009

Hawkes Bay Opera House, Assembly Room, Hastings

06/06/2012 - 06/06/2012

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

29/04/2009 - 07/05/2009

Telecom Playhouse Theatre, WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

02/07/2010 - 03/07/2010

Luggate Memorial Hall, Wanaka

28/06/2012 - 28/06/2012

Arts On Tour NZ 2012

Fuel Festival 2010

Dunedin Fringe 2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2009

Production Details

Written by Eli Kent
Directed by Eleanor Bishop


A comedy about apathy

Meet at Glover Park. Walk to Eli’s bedroom. Take your seats. Witness: Two boys, hanging out, drinking beers, riffing on Wellington, popular culture and girls. The death of their friend sparks a journey to Jerusalem, and the bedroom becomes a car, the North Island, and James. K Baxter’s grave.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is a new script by New Zealand playwright Eli Kent (2008 Chapman Tripp winner – Outstanding New Playwright of the Year for Rubber Turkey). A comedy about apathy, it tells the story of two young poets on a trip to Jerusalem to see the grave of our nation’s greatest poet. It explores James K. Baxter’s prophecy of a country void of love, asking – has what he preached come to pass?

A two man show, the story is told through narration, poetry and original music to explore the themes of masculinity, growing up, death and loss. Kent: “We wanted to explore our identity – young Kiwis growing up with no icons of our own – Baxter’s kind of the Kiwi anti-icon, but he’s still an icon. These characters want an identity and they misguidedly search for that in Baxter”.

Last year, Eli brought the script to director Eleanor, and they began thinking about venues. Suddenly they thought “Let’s do it in Eli’s bedroom…it’ll be intimate, it’ll force us to be imaginative with our staging, it can be surreal – you’ll be on the bed but it’ll be a car – the Wanganui river rushing past outside”.

Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt perform the play – and they play ‘Eli’ and ‘Jack’ – larger than life versions of themselves – unemployed, lacking direction and drinking far too much. Kent is also an accomplished actor (Armslength, The Cape, Falling Petals) and Jack is Eli’s best friend and a PlayGround Collective acting staple (Rubber Turkey, Familiar Strangers, The Henchmen). The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is the third production by The PlayGround Collective (Rubber Turkey (“incredibly intelligent and astute” – Lumière Reader), The Hunting of the Snark (“fresh creative energy” – Theatreview). They are a Wellington theatre company dedicated to making darkly comic work which challenges conventional dramatic forms as well as developing New Zealand playwriting and young practitioners.

Tuesday 10 – Sunday 22 February (no show Monday)
Two shows per night – 7:30pm and 9:00pm
Performance takes place in Eli’s bedroom
Meet at Glover Park (off Ghuznee Street)
$12 Full / $10 Fringe Addict
Bookings Wellington:


PICK OF THE FRINGE  at Downstage:

9pm, 29 April – 7 May

Book at Downstage Theatre on
04 801 6946.

Free Post Show TalkBack
Tue 5 May (after the last show)

Ticket Prices (per show)
(General Admission)

Full Price: $25
Students: $20
Fringe Addict Card: $20
Season Ticket for all 3 shows: $60 

18, 19, 20 March, 9pm @ The Globe Theatre, 104 London Street, Dunedin
Full $16, Concession $13 from Ticketdirect – 0800 4TICKET or 

BATS Theatre
Season: Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th June 2010 
Time: 8.30PM
Tickets: $18 full / $13 concession / $12 groups (6+)
Booked out! Want to go onto the waiting list?

STAMP at THE EDGE presents
The PlayGround Collective’s
The Intricate Art of Actually Caring By Eli Kent.
at The Basement
Monday, 14 June 2010 – Saturday, 19 June 2010
Mon-Wed, 7pm; Thur-Sat, 8pm
Ticketing information
Concession: applies to Students, Actors Equity Card Holders, DANZ Card Holders, Seniors and Beneficiaries
(Valid ID required)
Group bookings (10+) call 09 357 3354.   

Fuel Festival
Telecom Playhouse, WEL Academy of performing Arts, University of Waikato
Fri 2 – Sat 3 July 2010, 8pm

Downstage Return season:

Season Dates:                       24 May –2 June 2012 
Public preview:                    24 May 
Meet the Artists:                29 May

Showtimes:                          Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm; Thursday – Saturday 8pm (no shows Mon)
Matinee:                               Sat 2 June, Sun 3 June  4pm

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at (04) 801 6946 or in person at Downstage’s box office.

For up-to-date information visit  


ARTS ON TOUR Itinerary – 2012

Friday 8 June Hastings
Assembly Room, Hawke’s Bay Opera House, 11am and 7.30pm
Adult $25, Senior/student $20, Groups 10 or more $15, Encore club $18
Book: 0800 TICKETEK

Saturday 9 June Pukekohe
Harrington Hall Theatre, 8pm
$20 Book: 0220483214

Sunday 10 June Whangarei
The Old Library, 7.30pm
$20 Book:  The Old Library or Eventfinder

Wednesday 13 June Kerikeri
Downstairs at the Turner Centre, 7.30pm
Adults $25, Seniors $20, Under 18 $5
Book: The Turner Centre

Friday 15 June Taumarunui
Little Theatre, 7.30pm
Adults $20, High School students $10
Book: TM Peters

Saturday 16 June Wanganui
Royal Wanganui Opera House, 7.30pm
Adult $25, Senior $23, Friend of Opera House $20,
Student $15, School party 10+ $5
Book: Opera House and 

Sunday 17 June New Plymouth
Alexandra Room TSB Showplace, 6pm
Adults $25, Students $10
Book: TSB Showplace Box office 0800 111 999 

Tuesday 19 June Takaka
Village Theatre, Commercial St, 7.30pm
$18 pre-booking, $20 at the door
Book: Paradise Video and Laundrette

Thurs 21 June Ashburton
Ashburton Trust Event Centre, 7.30pm
$25 each, $22.50 for up to three, $20 four or more
Students (up to 16) $15  
(All prices incl service fees)

Saturday 23 June Oamaru
Oamaru Opera House, 7.30pm
$25 pp
Book: Or 08004ticket

Monday 25 June Twizel
Events Centre Theatre, 7.30pm
$20 Adults, $10 Students
Book: Twizel Information Centre, Events Centre

Tuesday 26 June Cromwell
College Auditorium, Barry Avenue, 7.30pm
Adults $25, SuperGold $20, Student/Child $15
Book: Cromwell I-Site 

Wednesday 27 June Alexandra
The Cellar Door, 143 Centennial Avenue, 7.30pm
$20 Book: Alexandra Information Centre

Thursday 28 June Wanaka
Luggate Hall, 7.30pm
$25 Adults, $10 Students (with proof)
Or Festival of Colour office upstairs 4 Helwick St (morning only)

Friday 29 June Gore
Little Theatre, 8pm
$25 Book: Eastern Southland Gallery

Saturday 30 June Riverton
Riverton Arts Centre, 7.30pm
$20 members, $25 non-members
Book: Riverton Arts Centre

Arts On Tour New Zealand
Arts On Tour New Zealand (AOTNZ) organises tours of outstanding New Zealand performers to rural and smaller centres in New Zealand. The trust receives funding from Creative New Zealand and liaises with local arts councils, repertory theatres and community groups to bring the best of musical and theatrical talent to country districts.    

Eli:  Eli Kent
Jack:  Jack Shadbolt

Lighting design:  Rachel Marlow
Stage Manager:  Heleyni Pratley
Art Direction:  Erin Banks

"Happy Birthday Harrison" composed by Patrick Whatman, lyrics by Eli Kent 

Company Awards

2009 Fringe Awards

Best Theatre

Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards

2008 Peter Harcourt Award Best New Playwright – Eli Kent

2009 Most Promising New Director – Eleanor Bishop

2009 Most Promising Male Newcomer – Jack Shadbolt

2009 Most Original Production 


2010 Bruce Mason Playwrighting Award – Eli Kent

2011 Arts Foundation New Generation Award – Eli Kent

Theatre ,

1 hr 15 mins, no interval

On the road again

Review by Laura Williamson 01st Jul 2012

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring covers a lot of ground that has been covered before: road trips, twenty-something slackerdom, alienation, bromance … Yet playwright Eli Kent’s take on these well-worn themes feels fresh.

His characters, Jack and Eli, offer something more than your typical lost boys. Struggling to deal with the death of their friend Johnny (“he coma’d out after his 21st”), they mostly don’t deal with it at all. Living on a diet of porn and apathy, these young men have misplaced the ability to feel. At times terribly sad, at times hilarious, Intricate Art is about their journey to get it back.

It’s hard not to root for them. Aspiring poet Jack has a bookish vulnerability that is loveable: he argues with the camelhair rug on his bedroom floor, complains that Jack Kerouac let him down and worships James K Baxter. And unemployed actor Eli, for all of his back-living-with-my-parents angst, is possessed by a crushing sadness that makes you forgive him for spending most of his time getting high on his dead friend’s Ritalin.   

The journey here is a pilgrimage to James K Baxter’s grave at Jerusalem.Kenthas captured exactly what road trips are like at that age: long meaningful conversations as long hours at the wheel make room for thought, momentous insights interrupted by the counting of road kill and stopping for feeds at McDonald’s.

After close to 100 performances, Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt occupy their characters completely. Watching them work together is like eavesdropping on old schoolmates, so that when one or the other turns outwards to address the audience, you feel sort of privileged at the attention.

Director Eleanor Bishop’s quirky staging complements Kent’s script perfectly (as the spare functionality of the Luggate Memorial Hall complemented her staging). Overhead projectors create a backdrop of basic line-drawn images, and the actors move and change them like shadow puppets. It’s brilliant. There’s a nostalgic simplicity to the OHPs. They evoke childhood classrooms long gone, and sit in contrast to the secular abyss of a world where Facebook has replaced church as the place where communities meet; where Eli’s only early regret about Johnny’s demise seems to be that “he never got to experience Timeline.”

In the end, though, Intricate Art reminds us that, Facebook or not, young or not, whether we are dressed in skinny black jeans or a prophet’s beard, our struggles are the same. And there’s nothing like a long drive through Godzone to unravel them.   

As Hone Tuwhare wrote about his trip to Baxter’s tangi in ‘Hemi’:
Finally, when we’d eased ourselves  
over a couple of humps and down down  
the winding metalled road to the river  
and Jerusalem, I knew things would be  
all right.  


For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Deliciously laconic, funny and captivating

Review by Ngaire Riley 19th Jun 2012

Jack starts with a verbal cogitation on a rug. He philosophises on and abuses it. There’s evidence of breadth and depth in his ruminations – maybe an animal had to die for this rug. There’s poetry and mundane reality – “now I spill my beer on this rug from Rajasthan or Turkey”.

He then turns his eyes to us and muses “was that good? Did I seem sincere?” And morosely deliberates the reply, “Kind of,” tossed in from one of the audience, in a Winnie the Pooh kind of way.  There is a sharing of life, suffering, laughter and soul in this performance, from beginning to end.

Two ‘21year olds’ take us on a road trip that comes from a death and becomes a kind of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the New Zealand one, and a word on a stone. Words. The story is deliciously rich with words, in a Hamlet sort of way.

It’s a performance that teems with imagery, not just from words, but also drawings and light and water and colour. This voyage explores death and love and god and caring and pacificism and bravery and being a bloke and friendship, in a real, irreverent and charming way. It’s the best 75 minutes I’ve experienced for a long time.

The script is like pastry. Layer upon layer of resonance is built through sound, symbol, historical and literary references, flashbacks and – like a good Kiwi pie – it teams with succulent, rich flavours. For example in  ‘Chapter 2 – Bad Audition’ Eli is caught in a camera light like a rabbit in the headlights. And just like an animal, we see that he is unable to think. He is stunned by the death of his friend. On their journey road-kill jolts the travellers. It’s funny and a concrete reminder of the impulse for their journey. The travellers are also forced to confront their own road-kill and ultimately their grief for a dead friend. Yet the angst is lightly and intricately handled. 

The characters are deliciously laconic. There’s a sense of the deadpan of Abbot and Costello, my son and his mates, and the musings of Beckett’s Gogo and Didi. The constant juxtaposition of clever, witty, profound, raw words is contrasted with the cartoonish graphics on the OHTs. A flashback to memories of Wellington is recounted against a rolling Wellington sky line then pulled back to reality with, “My dreams only reach as high as the head on my next beer.”  It sounds trite but the opposite is true. It’s funny and captivating.

Congratulations Eleanor Bishop, Eli Kent, Jack Shadbolt and team.  I can’t wait for the next PlayGround Collective performance.  


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Wit, humour, and perfectly balanced emotion

Review by Kirsty van Rijk 08th Jun 2012

A lot of reviews have been written about this work as it has developed from the playwright’s bedroom and the Fringe Festival performance to Downstage and a road-trip of its own tour of New Zealand. 

So how to review something that has been thoroughly reviewed? But more difficult is the question: how to review a play without employing play review clichés?  If you’re looking for a guide on that, I’m not your reviewer. Warning: clichés ahead.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring (although I’ve added the capitals and I think they aren’t supposed to be there) is poignant, self-aware, subtle, delicate, self-deprecating, witty, really funny… It’s brilliant.  I used the ‘b’ word.

Eleanor Bishop directs and the result is superb performances by Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt delivering wit, humour, and perfectly balanced emotion. The two are mates living in Wellington and coping with the disappointment of being 21. And they are trying to figure out how to care about their friend’s recent sudden death.  

The play captures a difficult junction in growing up, but as importantly depicts this generation’s attitudes and ennui. It feeds into the self-awareness of reality TV (there is an acknowledged audience out there) and real life as we know it – slow, disappointing, boring, a bit lame really.

ohp projectors and hand-drawn cartoons as bit-part actors in the story instead of up to the minute computer technology works to show the lameness of a couple of blokes, bordering on loserdom, trying to cope with their mate’s death, with the wit and ingenuity. We don’t need high tech equipment to tell the story; it’s about humanness, not flashy technology. It’s also about a killer script.

Jack spouts try-hard poetry that is almost good and nails the twenty something angst and heavy handedness with a metaphor to humorous effect, or, equally, to evoke empathy. Yet there is poetry, good poetry, in the dialogue.

This is a very carefully crafted script, subtle, funny, evocative. And really entertaining. Did I mention brilliant? Most of all, it feels real.

I’ll stop now before I gush. It is brilliant (sorry, I had to again, just the once). 


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Engaging play worth second look

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 30th May 2012

Like the characters in Eli Kent’s play The Intricate Art of Actually Caring, currently playing at Downstage, the play itself has been on somewhat of a journey since it first saw the light of day as part of the 2009 Fringe Festival.  Then it was a little innovative and off the wall production performed in the writer’s bedroom. 

Now, three years and three productions later, it is in essence still the same play, performed by the same actors in the same laid back but engaging style but somehow the intimacy of the audience actually being part of the characters lives and experiencing with them their journey has been lost in the transfer to Downstage Theatre.

Their mate Johnny has just died, on his 21st birthday.  Do they actually care is the question they ask themselves.  It also transpires that James K Baxter was the great uncle of one of them, Eli (Eli Kent), yet he really has no interest in his family history.  His bedroom is also stacked with poetry books care of his mother which he has no interest in. 

It is his mate Jack (Jack Shadbolt) who becomes the driving force, becoming interested in poetry, that of Baxter and Hone Tuwhare, and wanting to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, up the Whanganui River to where Baxter is buried.  It will also be a way of exorcising their guilt over not caring, or understanding why they don’t care, about Johnny’s death. 

Thus they embark on a road trip which takes up most of the play.  Not just a trip to Baxter’s grave but a journey of self discovery, about themselves and their relationship to each other and life in general.

Using the same devices as in previous productions such as simple but effective over head projections to flesh out the road trip and the people they encounter they talk to each other, and the audience, interspersed with poetry readings, in a way that although is existentialist in concept is nevertheless engaging. 

The style of delivery is laid back and casual yet hauntingly perceptive as they probe their inner thoughts and feelings. Both actors have a way of engaging with their audience that is endearing and totally believable and as a team under Eleanor Bishop’s direction the two work exceptionally well together, comfortable in each other’s space yet providing moments of tension when needed to add depth to the piece.

The humour, often dark, is genuinely funny and offers counter point to the many poignant moments that makes this piece of theatre, even if seen before, well worth seeing again.


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Beautiful, surprising and satisfying

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 26th May 2012

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring doesn’t make the prospect of actually caring seem like such an intricate art, at least for the audience. The playtext and its performance are so deeply-felt and unaffected that I found myself caring quite a lot, actually; about poetry; James K Baxter and Hone Tuwhare; about New Zealand; about road-tripping, good conversation and meaningful friendships.

The play is concerned with heritage: the history of things and how things came to be (here). This concept is toyed with using a camel rug and string of expletives in the opening scene (the latter turns out to be needless), but as the play develops, all doubt around the authenticity of the concept itself is allayed. We are getting the genuine preoccupations of the characters, Eli and Jack, and most probably of the actors themselves – Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt.

The interest in heritage is largely Jack’s. Although the play opens in Eli’s bedroom, it is Jack’s perspective on Eli’s ‘things and stuff’ that forms the initial bridge of entry into the show. Jack sees the world through a poetic lens; or sees poetry through a worldly lens. We hear his thought processes through striking poetry (which is presumably Eli Kent’s own poetry, since he is the writer) beautifully incorporated into clever, comic dialogue with Eli.

It is because of Jack’s desire to follow up Eli’s ancestral heritage and his own national heritage that he convinces his friend to go on a road trip to Jerusalem, to visit James K Baxter’s grave. Eli is Baxter’s grandnephew in the play (and presumably in real life) but he has no interest in Baxter: he doesn’t appreciate poetry in the way that Jack does, and believes that the idea of heritage itself is overrated. But this idea is not treated in a flippant way …

The idea of heritage is expanded to an existential concern: is there a celestial heritage? Eli says no. Jack says possibly. Both arguments are made in a balanced way, thankfully free from moralising and a sense of any underlying conclusion. So Eli’s disinterest in heritage is a deep-seated philosophy: he doesn’t believe in looking for meaning / explanation / justification in and for life. What does it matter who Baxter was, what his poems mean, what his lineage is, how his country has been represented historically?

There is an intricacy of ideas here that I don’t want to reduce. Suffice it to say that the contrasting philosophies, personalities and sensibilities of the characters are wonderful and creative, as is the treatment of cultural and metaphysical issues. The play’s actions are inspired by the untimely death of Eli and Jack’s close friend (on his 21st birthday), so it makes sense that existentialism is the narrative fulcrum; the bereavement process is predictable without being tedious.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring offers a unique experience: to hear performance poetry, in the context of the backstory and thought-processes that inspired it. This poetry (and the whole feel of the play) is beatnik; but beatnik that far surpasses the faux/wannabe-beatnik sarcastic spiritual quest I listened to night after night in San Francisco when I lived there. This really feels as if it is borne of a contemporary New Zealand mindset.

Without looking at the programme, I would have assumed that Shadbolt was the writer: although his performance is convincing, you get the feeling that he is more comfortable in the language and poetry and ideas than he is in physically being on stage. Kudos that he makes the poetry seem like his own – a tough task. But it is interesting that the roles are reversed: we can assume that Eli Kent must not share the mindset of his character, or he would not have written the play. He is very watchable – his physicality and comic timing are excellent; his character somewhat reminiscent of geeky genius Maurice from IT Crowds.

In terms of other strengths, Eleanor Bishop does an excellent job of direction: line delivery, blocking and choreography are flawless, and pace is well maintained. Aside from the poetic value of this play, its originality and rich cultural seatedness, a standout strength of the production is its use of projections in the set (designer: Erin Banks). The projectors are not just gimmicks or cheap alternatives to real set design; they reflect the play’s concerns: the transitory nature of things, the poetic lens available to these characters, derivation, drawing, portraying oneself, one’s interests, one’s philosophies, fashioning one’s surroundings etc.

This is a beautiful, surprising and satisfying play. The PlayGround Collective has just begun a three-year residency at Downstage, so I look forward to seeing what comes next.  


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The search for secular sainthood?

Review by Mark Houlahan 08th Jul 2010

It was a cold and rainy week. Two boys from Wellington bought their stylish road play to Hamilton. Meanwhile, back in Wellington, Ian McKellen bought his own fame back to Wellywood to stage Waiting for Godot, the biggest road play of them all.

The coincidence is worth noting for two reasons. It’s Godot that freed us all to think that two blokes talking engaging rubbish might be worth watching. Secondly, it’s great that a classic like Godot can succeed as unsubsidised, purely commercial (and very expensive theatre), but all the shows at Fuel remind us that we need our own stories as well as the wider world’s, and we need to tell them on our own stages in our own way.

This version of Intricate Art is, I am pretty sure, Playground Collective’s first appearance in Hamilton. The production confirmed their reputation as slyly stylish, youthful entertainers. There were several High School actors in the house last Friday. I hope they were inspired by such relaxed and effortlessly charismatic performers as Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt.

The set up could not be simpler. Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt play “Eli” and “Jack”, thinly fictionalised versions of their off-stage shelves. The death of a friend sends them out of Wellington. They head for Jerusalem up the Whanganui, to commune with Eli’s absurdly famous poet ancestor, James K. Baxter. There is much banter and wit along the way.

The play is in XIII chapters, a kind of irony via roman numerals. Stations of the cross? Perhaps. The first two thirds of the play (and by far the most successful), stage the journey north and the reasons for it, rather like Vivienne Plumb’s four hander, The Cape.

This is a travelling production, so economy of presentation was essential. Overhead projectors reflect images on a white scrim back drop. These show the scenes as they change, cartoon characters (Jack’s parents, even a nun), and the route map as Jack and Eli approach their destination. So far so road trip. Kerouac is flipped in, in case oldsters think the youth don’t read anymore.

Well they do, the play would have us know, or at least Eli Kent scriptwriter does. And you’d hope he writes more plays. Here the characters’ dialogue is well pitched, and the characters passionately committed to post-slacker cool. But what else are they for?

This it turns out is the really big question. As with so many road trips, the destination is a fizz. On the road Jack and Eli banter expertly, japing with each other, chatting to the audience as if this was still real life Eli’s bedroom where the fringe version of the play was first aired. Their charm holds our attention. Now at just over an hour in the running time, you could survive just on charm.

But the play reaches for the big finish, and in so doing goes off key. The writing strains for effect and so do the actors. They have been in synch until we get up river, but then Bishop separates them so they can act out their quite separate issues. At this point (about an hour in) the play disappeared and the audience became restless. They cease contacting each other and the audience is frozen out. Perhaps this is a writing issue, and the jump from smart arse to deep and meaningful is too sudden.

Then too the Telecom Playhouse can be cold to work in. It’s a two storey box design, and sound floats up away from the audience. Even from the third row, the actors could be hard to hear. Of course I’m a recovering Catholic, so the search for secular sainthood grabs me less than the nicely named Chapter VI: Eli almost gets in a fight at the Maccas in Levin.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Sometimes infuriating yet very successful portrayal of inertia and vulnerability

Review by Gail Pittaway 05th Jul 2010


One of the most awarded shows of the 2010 Wellington Fringe festival, written by Eli Kent, this play about two guys called Eli and Jack, performed by two guys called Eli and Jack, is effectively a dissertation on apathy, disguised as a road trip.

The pointless death of a friend called Jonathon spins them into uncharacteristic activity. Jack, Eli’s best friend, suggests they visit Jerusalem, James K. Baxter’s grave, as a way out of their current black hole of drinking, partying and pill popping – a lifestyle that killed their mate. So, arguing about “Things and Stuff”, they take to the road and have a few odd encounters with strangers and family.

It’s imaginatively directed by Eleanor Bishop, using three overhead projectors and lots of illustrated transparencies which depict cartoons of people, places and stuff. Driving occurs when they hold car headlights. While there’s not enough room here to go into the dialogue, it’s another of the strengths of the show – both funny and poignant, touching on love, death, pornography and poetry.

This random, low budget, “whatever” approach is pivotal to the play’s style and success at portraying the inertia and vulnerability of the young men. Although infuriating in many ways, both Eli and Jack are credible, touching characters.

Originally performed in Eli’s real room in Wellington, it’s nonetheless great to encounter this touring production on the wider stage at the Fuel festival.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Michael Wray July 6th, 2010

2010 Dunedin Fringe, 2009 Wellington Fringe - not to mention three awards in the 2009 Chapman Tripps.

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Insightful honesty and intelligence peppered with laugh-out-loud sardonicism

Review by Nik Smythe 17th Jun 2010

As we enter we find a tall, laconic, bearded, generation Y stoner slouched in an office swivel chair, strumming a jangly dirge on his acoustic guitar. 
Simple doodle-style line art of his best friend’s bedroom is overhead projected against the middle of three screens across the back wall, which serve to present 90 percent of the set dressing throughout the play; the askew right-hand screen supplying the titles of the 13 chapters in this semi-parabolic theatrical novelette. 
The guy playing the song is Jack Shadbolt, played by Jack Shadbolt. His cohort Eli Kent (Eli Kent, also playwright) is the grandnephew of J K Baxter. Eli actually doesn’t even like poetry. Jack on the other hand does, so when their other best friend Johnny Harrison (Not played by anyone because he’s dead) dies from attempting a yardie-too-far at his 21st, Jack talks Eli into a pilgrimage to James K’s gravesite in Jerusalem, Whanganui district (from Wellington).
The two friends’ interaction is frequently dysfunctional, in that they each see the world in their unique way and don’t understand the other’s point of view much at all. Jack worries that he doesn’t care as much as his upbringing, education and media exposure tells him a human is supposed to care. He doesn’t seem to realise that the simple trait of wanting to care, yearning even, is evidence that he cares about humanity more than many.
Case in point: Eli’s an actor, whose manic penchant for analysing trivia has him appearing at first more fun than Jack, less depressing at least. However, by the last few chapters, perceptions are thrown into question; we can see what each guy should say to the other so they’ll properly understand them. When they don’t it’s a shame, though we do witness the distinct germination of some kind of existential realisation in each of them.
Under director Eleanor Bishop, the tone of Kent’s strongly written paean to existential morality is fairly wry, peppered with moments of laugh-out-loud bleak sardonicism. The inventive art direction by Erin Banks utilises the three projectors for symbolic effects, landscapes, character representation, puppetry, internet pages, shadowplay and more.

Austere and grim as the story is, the insightful honesty that its inquiry elicits is genuinely interesting. It’s refreshing to see what is essentially a post-modern work delivered with such intelligence.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Absolutely of its time yet universal in its human insights

Review by John Smythe 02nd Jun 2010

Having reviewed last year’s world premiere, in Eli Kent’s bedroom, and conspired with the critical mass to nominate it for five Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2009 (it won three), and given the number of well articulated reviews it has garnered since – with more to come – I simply want to acknowledge, here, its evolution from rough diamond to polished gem.

Perhaps this third viewing in a third Wellington space – after visits to Christchurch and Dunedin, and ahead of its too-brief Auckland season (Basement, 14-19 June) then Hamilton (Fuel Festival 2010) – means I have gained a more objective understanding of what makes it work so well. Also, it is being staged and performed with greater clarity, on the ‘less is more’ principle (director: Eleanor Bishop).

As I recall it, The Intricate Art of Actually Caring’s purpose for being, as a play, initially became apparent from a morass of physical, mental and verbal clutter. Now the staging is visually simpler but no less witty (designers: Erin Banks and Heleyni Pratley): three over-head projectors and a couple of sheets allow locations, maps of the journey, other characters and ‘stuff’ (e.g. road kill) encountered, and even subjective moods and experiences, to be evoked along with the 13 ‘chapter headings’ that mark the stations of their journey.

Shadow play also plays a part. And stains. The stain of guilt …

After waxing lyrical over a camel hair rug and demanding to be amazed, the ever-questing Jack Shadbolt as narrator /presenter tells us clearly – in the nature of an illustrated talk – that this is about two guys who take a road trip to Jerusalem (NZ) because he (Jack) lost his job and Eli’s never had one … Except the title tells us what it’s really about and they re-enact the key moments while commenting on the action and sharing their internal monologues.

It’s the alcohol-related death of Johnny Harrison, a friend from high-school who went to uni in Auckland and drank half a yard too much at his 21st, that renders Eli incapable of remembering his lines for a Power Rangers audition: an ingenious way of establishing the deep-felt guilt that Eli is in denial about for most of the journey.

This and a reference to atrocities in Gaza are especially topical right now and testify to the timelessness of the many home-truths being mined in Kent’s extraordinarily accomplished play. It is a rite-of-passage cum coming-of-age story that is absolutely of its time yet universal in its human insights.

The churning brain cells of post-adolescence engage with the more mature wisdoms of the poets – Baxter, Hone Tuwhare and Jack Kerouac – within a ‘road trip’ structure, connecting with places, family and the land to generate a cathartic arrival at self-knowledge on the threshold of adulthood.

Initially thought to be site-specific, it has turned out not to be so. But for the moment, at least, it does remain performer-specific. Except now Eli and Jack are that much older and playing themselves as they were then, with – as I see it – a greater maturity and world-wise awareness. So maybe one day a new generation will take it on (as happened with Bruce Mason’s The End of the Golden Weather, also thought, once, to be indivisible form him as performer).

Meanwhile, is anyone working on a film adaptation that will allow the original ‘ownership’ to be preserved? That needs to happen and it needs to be fast-tracked.


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Exhilarating quest for amazement and meaning

Review by Terry MacTavish 22nd Mar 2010

I’d envied Wellington audiences when I imagined seeing this great Pick of the Fringe play performed in Eli’s bedroom, but the associations as well the ambience of the Globe Theatre give it a special resonance here. For this is where Baxter’s flawed but exciting plays were first produced, born of his abrasive and stimulating friendship with Globe founder, Patric Carey.

“James K Baxter and Patric Carey sat like two bearded gnomes knees hunched up under their chins in the garden and talked, talked, talked, and talked,” recalled a playgoer of the 1960s. “It could not be called conversation. It could not be called discussion. It went on endlessly in a crazy pattern of days.”* Pretty much like Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt, really, except that their beards at least are somewhat short of maturity.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is commencing a national tour at Dunedin’s Fringe Festival, but success in 2009 ensures a glowing reputation precedes it. Exhilarating to find it lives up to the hype; hard to find something new to say.

Young old mates Eli and Jack, playing themselves, are out of work and at a loose end. They have just buried their friend Johnny, ‘a sweet little ADD ball of mental’ who drank himself to death at his 21st. Facing up to mortality, and unravelling the mystery of life, have therefore acquired a new urgency.

Jack is the motivator who insists they set off on a pilgrimage to Baxter’s grave at Jerusalem. Quieter sidekick Eli joins the road trip to hang out with Jack, but he too is in search of an identity. As the playwright, he is the one who points out that Baxter is the nearest thing to an icon we icon-less Kiwis have.

The stage craft is exemplary. Plaudits to director Eleanor Bishop and her team from The Playground Collective, for skilled use of theatre conventions that would delight any NCEA examiner. Eli’s bedroom is re-created simply with drawings on two huge sheets, the scene changes thrown up from OHPs. Hand-held headlights let us know when the lads are in the car, and encounters with others en route are shown with hilarious silhouettes of puppets on a screen. Brechtian-type chapter headings keep track of the journey much more enjoyably than counting road-kill.

The actors, Jack Shadbolt and Eli Kent, are completely relaxed and secure in their roles, whether raving to themselves or each other, or taking the audience casually into their confidence with a laid-back humour that never subverts their sincerity. They mooch round the stage, slipping easily into the roles of people they encounter on the way. Occasionally their maunderings are varied with inspired rants in Baxter’s own dazzling style. They are very funny without straining after it. And they are not too naturalistic to be audible!

The raw honesty is moving, and the climax superbly orchestrated: not split-focus, but shift-focus, as the two for the first time are apart, here at journey’s end. While Jack confronts the simple grave, Eli finally explodes with a torrent of words in a startlingly appropriate adventure of his own. Brilliant writing.

Having recently reviewed My Name is Rachel Corrie, I can’t but be struck by the contrast: Rachel gave up her life for a passionately held belief, while Eli and Jack are struggling to find something worth living for, let alone dying for. And now Johnny has simply tossed his life away. Understandable then, that Jack desperately searches for meaning in everything, demanding even of the stained camel rug, ‘Amaze me!’ (Diaghilev’s challenge to Jean Cocteau: ‘Etonne-moi!’ In 1917 the response was a performance called ‘Parade’…)

I love the way Jack seems to harbour a dark suspicion that poets know the answer. Dylan Thomas is quoted along with Baxter and Tuwhare, though I waited in vain for ‘Time held me, green and dying, though I sang, in my chains, like the sea’ which does pretty much describe this play. Hmm. Wonder if he’s tried Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality?

Ironically it may be Baxter’s playwriting rather than his poetry that provides the answer sought by character Jack and writer Kent. Perhaps Baxter did not evolve as a playwright, but the enthusiastic response to his works at the Globe in the ’60s proved there could be an audience for NZ drama. Probably Kent [Baxter’s great-0nephew] has benefited from that breakthrough, so that his personal quest can at least be shared with his generation.

Baxter’s use of the vernacular shocked some older patrons, but brought into the Globe a whole new audience of youthful seekers-after-truth. As is happening again, thanks to Intricate Art. 

Patric wouldn’t have cared about the House Full sign, but he and Jim would surely have delighted in the fresh new minds flocking into the theatre. Here’s hoping Playground Collective are back for an exciting playdate at the Globe real soon.
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*Gwen Wales, from A Theatre in the House by Rosalie Carey. She adds, “Oh! for a tiny eavesdrop on the philosophy, wisdom, rancour, and pithy gut roots of life they shared!”
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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What a journey!

Review by Steph Walker 27th Jul 2009

What I love about the Christchurch Arts Festival is that audiences are invited to more than just the international showstoppers – Guy Boyce has put together a programme that highlights great innovative local works too. The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is the first of two such productions at CoCA (the Centre of Contemporary Art).

This is the third season of this work, and the first I have seen. From what I understand, while the script has been gently moulded and sculpted, the design aspects of the show have had to undergo pretty dramatic transformations for each: the first production in a bedroom, the second in the darkness and concrete of Downstage, and now this vast white space in Christchurch.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring has elements of a coming of age story, with the newly fired Jack (Jack Shadbolt) and the apathetic Eli (Eli Kent) heading off to find James K Baxter’s grave, the great New Zealand poet and founder of the Jerusalem, or Hiruharama, commune on the banks of the Whanganui river.

Jack, a budding poet, sees this as a pilgrimage, while Eli (who is related to Baxter) is just along for the ride since he has nothing better to do. It turns out that the sudden death of their mate Johnny Harrison is what really spurred on the travels. Being the first taste of death their group of friends has had to confront, the idea of mortality is preying on Eli and Jack’s minds.

We go along with the two guys, taking in the sights and listening in to their conversations, which is a real treat. The combination of witty banter and poetry, as well as the incredibly clever use of OHPs in the set design (which I’ll get to later) makes us feel as if we truly are in the car, travelling up the highways and byways of the rural North Island… No mean feat since it feels about a million miles from urban Christchurch.

CoCA as a venue is both a blessing and a curse. As the audience walks in, Eli is rolling around the grey lino floor on an office chair, beer can in hand; rolling around his ‘bedroom’ which is a simple black and white line drawing projected with two OHPs on the back wall. Jack sits near the small screen to the right, still, talking in to the Dictaphone.

I have to admit I thought it was going to be a bit of an Old School On The Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover type show, until those flimsy sheets of clear plastic started to move. The OHPs (designed by Erin Banks & Heleyni Pratley) are brilliant: they suit the space perfectly, and are used superbly throughout.  Jack’s parents, the guy who almost beats Eli up in the Levin Maccas, and the roadkill are just a few of the deft touches.

My only criticism is that at times the OHPs are a little too well done. For me they work best when they are simple black and white drawings used imaginatively. The car is simply signified by the guys holding headlights; minimal lighting used for maximum effect.

And the curse? As soon as the two actors open their mouths I sink a little in my seat. CoCA is an echoing cavern of a place, and any time the two actors move around the place whilst excitedly talking loses me. Which is a crying shame, as the writing is a superb mix of young guys chatting up a storm, and Jack’s poetic ramblings. I think Eli has some great lines too, but whenever he gets worked up, he starts talking faster. And whenever that happens, I can’t make out what he’s on about.

Shadbolt is a lot more steadfast in his delivery; handy since Jack is the main narrator of the piece. They are both engaging, although I have to agree with Jack that Eli is being a bit of a dick. It takes a good 40 minutes before I have any affection for the character.

The two work together with the assurance of old hands, and what a lot of work they have to do with the OHPs all operated by them. With all the cleverness of the design, I have to say my favourite moments of the play are when all is still, and we can take in the poetry of the expert script by Kent.

My only other gripe is that for a very New Zealand pilgrimage the music is pretty much all from overseas. But that is pretty minor. The audience loves it, as do I. What a journey!
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Greater cohesion packs a bigger punch

Review by Melody Nixon 01st May 2009

The show that teaches us how to care – or implores us, at least, to try – finds a home in Downstage for the third and final play of this year’s Pick of the Fringe.  Jack (Jack Shadbolt) and Eli (Eli Kent) have a much bigger bedroom to play in this time, and they manage to fill it successfully with an enhanced array of visual and energetic colours.

Unfortunately, some of the more interesting and quirky details brought to fruition in Eli’s original bedroom (the springy chapter changes, the wind-up nun) do not make it into Downstage, perhaps due to the technicalities of having a much bigger audience.  But some new additions, which are presumably the efforts of designers Heleyni Pratley and Erin Banks, build on the play’s existing themes nicely. 

The filling up of the car/bedroom with debris seem to exemplify the layers and ‘intricacies’ of Eli and Jack’s relationship with each other and themselves as their trip progresses.  The way that multi-coloured garbage contrasts against the whiteness of the bedroom furniture (think, white, middle-class furniture) is quite striking.  The white feathers (of a coward?) add further visual contrast.  

The script’s many contradictions – the way it glorifies alcohol and uses it as an excuse ("Aw, I was just drunk man") while at the same time pointing out its destructiveness; the way Eli (the character) ‘doesn’t care’ about his poetic lineage while Eli (the actor) has written a play about it – are not resolved, and Jack (the actor) appears to be very nervous on opening night (though given the shift in venue size that’s understandable). One might be tempted to say thank goodness he’s had a couple of beers to set him on track.

The end is revised to provide greater cohesion between the two uncurling lives of Jack and Eli, as they find epiphany in Jerusalem. It is a bit of a shame to see the character of the man in the house overlooking Baxter’s grave has been removed, as this was particularly well done in the first version; but perhaps the snappier ending provides a bigger punch. 

I overheard one viewer interestingly put the gist of Intricate Art down to "teenage angst" as he left the theatre, and I can see why someone might reach that conclusion. The anguish, bitterness and confusion seem like the stereotypical feelings of adolescence. But therein lies the shame and dilemma of our "pig island": even young men like these, in their early twenties, haven’t been taught to express themselves wholly. "You’d think a kid with left-wing, arty parents would produce a kid in touch with his emotions – no way Jose," says Eli. 

One can only admire Eli then, and Jack, for trying to reach those emotions in such an open and raw way, and for being dedicated enough to use this return season to bring their wonderfully affecting work further along the track towards final and polished completion.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Ross Young May 7th, 2009

One of the best plays I've seen all year.  Witty debate and existential quests in NZ theatre?  From Blake to Baxter, from McGee to Kent. Now take it up a level and give us more!

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Probably the highlight of the Fringe

Review by Helen Sims 23rd Feb 2009

‘Gifted’, ‘talented’ and ‘fresh’ are the terms that come to mind when trying to describe this brilliant production by the Playground Collective. This is particularly amusing given the play is a ‘comedy about apathy’ and a portrait of disaffected youth in search of a “living, breathing exclamation mark.”

Jack (played by Jack Shadbolt) is a poet struggling with the inherent betrayal of words and a lack of emotional response. He stands over a rug and demands “Amaze me!” Eli (played by Eli Kent) is a destructive ball of unfocused energy who seems to care about very little at all. Jack’s the “proper narrator” (although Eli wrote the script) and the whole ‘thing (and stuff)’ is a re-telling of a road trip they took to Baxter’s grave following the death of their mate Johnny Harrison. Johnny’s Facebook page is still up – they muse on whether someone should take it down, or at least change his status to ‘dead’.

It is these modern references and moments of irreverent humour that result in the interrogation of cultural mythologies not becoming didactic. It helps that Kent doesn’t try and pose any more than tentative answers. You walk away from this play with a bit to ponder, but thoroughly entertained nonetheless. I enjoyed last year’s Rubber Turkey immensely, but I have to say that Intricate Art is a huge step up for Kent as a playwright.

The excellence of the script is benefited greatly by Eleanor Bishop’s intelligent and unfussy direction that utilises the spaces in Eli’s bedroom excellently. Heleyni Pratley is obviously working hard behind the scenes as stage manager, although we never see her. The lighting design by Rachel Marlow is largely subtle, as one would expect in a site specific work of this type and the art direction by Erin Banks features the imagery from tales of mates and journeys without labouring the point.

Overall I can’t put it better than to say I loved it. It was delightful to hear iconic New Zealand poetry tossed around with equal amounts of reverence and disaffection. The script has the strength to go further, although for those who miss the intimacy of this first production in Eli’s bedroom, you are probably missing the highlight of the Fringe.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


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Review by Lynn Freeman 18th Feb 2009

This has to be the best show title in the entire Fringe – The Intricate Art of Actually Caring – but then it was coined by James K Baxter.  Baxter was an original voice and the concept for this production and many aspects of its execution are wonderfully original too.  That includes the venue, the bedroom of one of the actors Eli Kent.  Genius.

He and co-actor Jack Shadbolt are two dangerously bored lads, one recently unemployed, one never employed, who go on a road trip to Baxter’s grave at Jerusalem.  For poetry-loving Jack it’s a pilgrimage, while Eli’s just along for the ride despite the fact Baxter was his great Uncle. 

This 75 minutes proves to be quite a trip for the audience too, a memorable one, if just a fraction too long. Director Eleanor Bishop makes the most of the space, inside and out, and Rachel Marlow’s ingenious lighting – portable headlights in particular, all add to this wonderfully intimate theatrical experience. 


Katherine Baxter February 19th, 2009

Lynn Freeman's review of the Fringe play Intricate Art of Actually Caring - is very generous and positive. Just one comment - we have been talking within the Baxter family on this. As far as we can recall the title of the play cannot be attributed to James K Baxter. Unless there is a subconscious influence in there from some other source, the phrase appears to be an Eli Kent special!

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Dark comedy reveals emotional journey out of adolescence

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 16th Feb 2009

Performed in the playwright’s bedroom with an adjoining patio in a central city apartment, The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is a gloriously successful young man’s play about the search for authentic emotions.

Mates Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt are confronting the death of 21 year-old Johnny and whether they really deep down care that much. Jack’s into poetry (Baxter, Hunt, Tuwhare), and Eli is deliciously cynical about just about everything: not for nothing are there posters of Reservoir Dogs and A Clockwork Orange on the bedroom walls.

They go on a road trip (Eli’s into Kerouac) to Jerusalem where a relative of Eli’s is buried: James K. Baxter. On the way they stay with Jack’s parents, count the road kill, argue, quote poetry, and always probe away at this thing called life. They do it with such a relaxed, laid back way that you could easily be simply amused by the dark comedy were it not for the Hamlet-like probing and revelations of their emotional journey out of adolescence.

With audiences limited to a dozen per performance (twice nightly) this production must be seen by a much larger audience, say a season at Bats. It might lose something in the transfer but Erin Banks (art direction) Rachel Marlow (lighting) and Eleanor Bishop (direction), and not forgetting Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt, are all too talented to let the difference show.


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Extraordinary wit, perspicacity and humanity

Review by John Smythe 11th Feb 2009

So Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt are best mates in real life. Jack comes and gets us from Glover Park where we’ve congregated (just a dozen or so punters per show) and takes us over the road to Eli’s actual bedroom on the ground floor of the central city apartment he apparently shares with his parents who are upstairs out of the way I suppose. Or out.

Eli’s at his Apple Mac, we sit along one wall facing across the floor and his bed to a wall that is covered with posters and flyers surprisingly neatly arranged (geometric like a website?): Radiohead; A Clockwork Orange; a Goodbye Pork Pie reference to the left on one of the wardrobe doors; a concrete yard to our right; stuff on the ceiling … And they do this show.

Eli wrote it and they use their real names but they play heightened versions of themselves or maybe more accurately aspects of themselves or is it just aspects of Eli because he wrote it all and Eli-in-the-play claims not to be a poet while Jack-in-the-play is, and a good one too, except it’s Eli’s words he’s saying …

They are both given to mind-fuck riffs like that although Eli’s get more mangled and spacey man yet a weird sort of clarity arises from the train wrecks of his preoccupations. Jack’s on a relatively serious quest, even if The Intricate Art of Actually Caring is billed as ‘a comedy about apathy’ which it is, if we care enough to notice.

What’s happened is a friend called Johnny who was a bit of a jock drank half a yard too much at his 21st and fell into a coma and died and it’s heavy shit for them to deal with, not least having to work out whether they actually care and if so how if they’re totally honest about what they thought and felt at the time. Or at the funeral anyway. 

Jack’s lost his job at Boom! and Eli doesn’t have one so Jack’s idea is to make a pilgrimage to James K Baxter’s grave at Jerusalem up past Wanganui, where Jack’s parents live en route, because Jack’s really into Baxter and all the other Kiwi poets. And so should Eli be, especially given he’s related to Baxter on his mother’s side. But Eli-in-the-play claims not to be into poetry or all that heritage shit even though his bookshelf is full of the Kiwi poets. He’s more into Kerouac and Jack makes him promise not to keep comparing their trip to On The Road Again. We can do that.  

Deftly directed by Eleanor Bishop, the 13 scenes that make up this play are ingeniously formed and performed in a space art-directed by Erin Banks and lit by Rachel Marlow with invisible stage manager Heleyni Pratley adding some great effects.

One detail that delights is the way each chapter heading is revealed. The car trip is simply signified by Eli and Jack holding headlamps, not necessarily alongside each other. Other characters met along the way are channelled through soft toys, clothes on hangers and head-gear … The minimalism throughout is hugely effective.

But what is most impressive is the way Kent the writer and Kent and Shadbolt the actors use laid-back slacker language to explore the rich minefield of consciousness that drive young men on the tipping point from adolescence to adulthood through their daze of joyous pessimism. The multiple threads of insight, wit, intellectual brilliance and emotional depth that weave through this work are laid out before us like the camel hair rug Jack riffs on right at the start.

"Is my incredulity credible?" he asks. It most certainly is. While his constant quest to be astonished and amazed by the provenance of everyday things may leave him numb, it tickles my fancies no end.

The verbs to muse, amuse, abuse, enthuse and accuse draw the weft through the warp of this light yet compact fabrication, ending with the tight knot of guilt: that condition which most defines us as human, whether we’re hooked on one or some of the faiths on offer or not.

There is barely a concern or issue of human existence that The Intricate Art of Actually Caring does not touch upon and yet it never feels earnest or didactic. Nor is it trivial; not in the least. It totally fulfils The Playground Collective’s desire "to make darkly comic work which challenges conventional dramatic forms."

Book now: don’t miss it (click on the title above for production & booking details). It clearly deserves a return season in a larger space – it must be a contender to the Downstage Pick of the Fringe season, for example – and of course it will lose something in the move from such an intimate space. But as a work of extraordinary wit, perspicacity and humanity it may just have to leave the bedroom.


John Smythe February 12th, 2009

Different songs, same title. Bob Dylan: 1965; Willie Nelson: 1980.  I think we are both showing our ages.

(Jack Kerouac's On The Road first published 1957, by the way.)

martyn roberts February 12th, 2009

Um sorry but you were channelling Willie Nelson

John Smythe February 11th, 2009

Quite right – my mistake not theirs. I suppose I was thinking of Dylan.

Ms. Pedant February 11th, 2009

ah... the Jack Kerouac novel is actually called On the Road.

Just saying.

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