The Primary Motivations: by Guilt & Shame

Galatos, Auckland

05/03/2011 - 09/03/2011

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details

Do the skeletons in your closet dictate your life choices?  

Meet Sarah, Claire and Lucy. Little Miss Perfect, her sister the shambles, their best friend the freak. Their love lives are everything they could hope for; a three-part tragicomic disharmony. And they’ll stay that way – if their secrets stay buried. 

SHOSHANA McCALLUM is a 2009 graduate of The Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York. Shoshana’s New York stage roles include “Felicity” in The Real Inspector Hound and “Ilse” in Spring Awakening. Recent credits include Shortland Street and the upcoming January season of Cinderella at Auckland’s Civic Theatre. In 2011 Shoshana will also co-write and perform alongside Simon Ward in Emotional, Cripple at the Basement for the 2011 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

ELIZABETH McMENAMIN graduated alongside Shoshana McCallum from the Wellington Performing Arts Centre in 2005. Since then Elizabeth has trained in Toronto and at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. In early 2010 Elizabeth filmed Hook Line and Sinker with Geraldine Brophy for Torchlight Films. Recent credits include “Jean” in ATC’s August: Osage County directed by Colin McColl, and ‘Seagull 2’ in Idiots: Back2School by Nic Sampson.

SIMON WARD is best known as “Brian” or “Poochi” from the Tower Insurance commercials. Recent theatre credits include Idiots: Back2School, Pirates vs Ninjas by Anya Tate-Manning, and The Christmas Monologues 2 by Thomas Sainsbury. THE PRIMARY MOTIVATIONS: by Guilt & Shame is Simon’s theatrical debut as a director. 

WHEN:  5th, 6th, 7th and 9th March  
TIME:  Sat 8pm, Sun & Mon 7pm and Wed 9pm  
WHERE:  Galatos, 17 Galatos Street, Auckland  

Donna Brookbanks
Shoshana McCallum
Elizabeth McMenamin
Omar Al-Sobky
Ari Boyland
Kyle Pryor 

Good ingredients yet to be well blended

Review by Keziah Warner 06th Mar 2011

Primary Motivations is a play about relationships, friendships and family. Sarah (Shoshana McCallum) has just got married to Stewart (Kyle Pryor), her own Mr Perfect, but she can’t help but think that something is missing. Her sister Claire (Elizabeth McMenamin) is continually let down by men and is sick of trying to find the perfect relationship. Meanwhile their childhood friend Lucy (Samantha Donaldson) is content with her life just as it is and is forced to mediate between the two sisters. 

The story is told through a patchwork of dialogue, monologue and video projections that show the characters as they are now and as children. As their dissatisfaction with their lives grows, they need to reach out, but can they always rely on each other? 

I feel that the mixture of storytelling devices, whilst ambitious, is not quite fully realised here. As a first time director, Simon Ward seems to have taken on more than he can manage and the play’s many jumps stop it from coming together as a cohesive whole. I like the video projections; the two girls playing the young Sarah and Claire, Saskia and Antonia Grant, are amazing actors for their age, but I just feel that they are unnecessary in a play with such simple, universal themes.

Also – this is perhaps something over which the company have no control, but – the cabaret-style seating layout is completely inappropriate and seems to alienate the audience from the more intimate scenes in the play. 

McCallum and McMenamin’s script is well observed and often very funny but the plot itself really needs tightening up in order to hold an audience for the full hour. In particular, I find the character of Lucy to be almost extraneous to the story; the play is very much centred on Sarah and Claire’s relationship and happy-go-lucky Lucy doesn’t seem to add anything to it. (Samantha Donaldson is a last minute replacement for Donna Brookbanks and so it may be that a lot of Lucy’s lines have had to be cut in order to adapt to the cast change, and Donaldson performs well, considering, but the play would not lose any of it’s meaning if Lucy was not there at all.)

The real strength of their writing lies in the monologues that pepper the story and allow us an insight into the characters’ emotions. Both actresses gave really lovely deliveries that show a genuine empathy with their characters’ situations and enable the audience to identify with them.

Primary Motivations has a lot of the right ingredients, it just hasn’t quite figured out how to put them all together yet.

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust

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Editor March 6th, 2011

For the record, this is the 100th production to be reviewed on Theatreview this year - 9 weeks into 2011 (and just over 7 weeks from the date the first show opened).  

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