New Athenaeum Theatre, 24 The Octagon, Dunedin

14/08/2019 - 17/08/2019

Production Details

Suitcase Theatre are excited to bring two intense, dark and twisted short plays to the New Athenaeum Theatre for a 5 show run from 14 – 17 August.

At least 50% of profits are going directly to the Night Shelter Trust, Dunedin.

The plays have several synergies, similar off-centre themes. Crunchy Silk by Jess Sayer is similarly dark and twisted, it’s unclear who is telling the truth and who is confusing who…  The Night Shift by Mark Murphy is a compelling play about the profound impact of childhood memories on adult relationships.

The Night Shift

A woman with a sleep disorder toys with her much put-upon lover. A troubled older man in a secure unit spars with his newly-qualified counsellor. What forces are driving these couples apart? What hidden ties bind them?

Content Warning: This play contains strong language and adult themes.

Director’s Note – Jonathan Cweorth

In his foreword to the published edition of The Night Shift, playwright Mark Murphy writes of sitting at his computer, staring at the finished script, and asking himself, “What have I written?” Indeed, it’s a hard play to categorise, being equal parts relationship drama, psychological thriller, detective story, and waking dream. It has a parallel structure which is disorienting at first until the underlying patterns begin to emerge.

This structure presents a formidable task for the actors, who are onstage throughout the play, and must also continually switch between characters. Our actors tonight have embraced this challenge with impressive energy and commitment. The flexible ‘black box’ space of the NAT has been ideal for our spare production, and we’ve been lucky to have a musician to compose an unsettling set of variations on Beethovens’s Moonlight Sonata to accompany the play.

Though I still can’t quite answer the playwright’s question, I can say The Night Shift has been a fascinating play to direct.

I hope you find it equally rewarding to watch.
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Performed alternately at 6pm and 8pm the run allows audiences to pick and choose if they see the two shows in one night or on separate nights at their preferred time. This allows early birds to see two shows on different nights and be home by 7.30pm and accommodates people with commitments to feed the kids etc. before heading out to a show at 8pm. Anyone who books to see both shows on the same night will receive a free drink from either the Craic Irish Tavern or Thistle Café & Bar.

The New Athenaeum Theatre – August 2019:
Wednesday 14 – 6pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift 
Thursday 15    – 6pm The Night Shift | 8pm Crunchy Silk
Friday 16         – 6 pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift
Saturday 17 matinees – 12noon The Night Shift | 2pm Crunchy Silk
Saturday 17 evening   – 6pm Crunchy Silk | 8pm The Night Shift  

Shows $15 each. Book for both shows on one night and receive a free drink.

The cast visited Carol at the Night Shelter and learned that they rely hugely on the generosity of Dunedin for food, clothing and financial donations. One item they are constantly in need of is toilet paper so the cast determined to build a toilet paper fort to donate at the end of the run. They are inviting audience members to bring a pack of toilet paper to contribute to the fort they’re building in the foyer of the NAT, as a fun way to increase awareness for the important support the shelter provides to people in Dunedin.

How you can help The Night Shelter:

Volunteer an hour for the night Shelter Trust Street Appeal Week:
Tuesday 20 – Saturday 24 August: or call Carol on 03 477 0546 

Buy a ticket to the shows – at least 50% of ticket sales go directly to The Night Shelter.

Bring a pack of toilet paper to add to the fort!

Helen Fearnley as Alice & Helen
Brook Bray as Gray & Andrew

Lights – Martin Swann
Costume – Sofie Welvaert
Stage Manager – Laura Wells  

Theatre ,

A night for reflection and consideration

Review by Kate Timms-Dean 17th Aug 2019

It’s another night at the New Athenaeum Theatre and, despite the inclement weather, there is a crowd out to see the second in a diptych from Suitcase Productions. The production company has a history of supporting local charities and tonight’s affair is no exception, with the Dunedin Night Shelter set to be the 2019 recipient. This is a worthy cause, as evidenced just outside the theatre doors, on the pavements of the Octagon and Princes Street.

The New Athenaeum shows off its versatility as a performance space tonight, the setting providing a very different perspective from the night before, when I was here to see Crunchy Silk.

Here we have a domestic scene with bed and coatrack, a simple outline for the stories to twist and turn against. Two stories intertwining, stripping bare and exposing the layers of these lives. The movement between each duo of characters creates a rhythm and, for a while, run in parallel.

Helen Fearnley flawlessly delivers Alice, a daughter trapped in time, taken back to a pivotal point as she sleeps, and Helen, a counsellor working in an undisclosed institution. Brook Bray is superb in dual roles as Gray, a cut-out character mirroring the second, Andrew, a man he is chosen to replicate.

The rhythm of delivery flows, capturing us, and then intensifies. The swapping of stories becomes frenetic; they entwine and overflow as these lives, their connections, become clear. It’s like picking off the scab to see the wound beneath: a cathartic pain that cannot be denied or turned away from. Layer by layer the past is exposed and laid bare. A pebble of trauma dropped into life’s waters and here we see the ripples, ever widening, never ending. There is no solace for these souls.

And my mind is taken back to those sad souls outside, sitting in the rain that is now falling. What traumas and trials have brought them to where they are now, sleeping rough, on the streets? 

So if you’re feeling altruistic this weekend, and you don’t mind grappling with deep and difficult ideas, head along to the New Athenaeum. Bring your thinking brain, bring your wallet and donate your toilet paper to the castle in the foyer. This is a night for reflection and consideration of the hidden lives around us, and the work of these actors provides the perfect food for thought.  


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