Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

17/09/2020 - 26/09/2020

Production Details

“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Well, quite a lot actually”.

Family was their greatest strength. Then the shoe dropped, the worst happened. Now what? The creature in the lake looms over a windswept west coast batch where a family is forced to face their fears, for better or worse.

A note from the Director

The Almyers have suffered the unimaginable. The loss of a child. And, true to human nature, it has brought some together and torn others apart. Two years after the tragedy we reach a turning point…

I was drawn to The Raft for its simplicity. 4 actors, one location, a slice of humanity. The story has plenty of challenges, but is at its heart a simple one, a slice of family and how we care for each other. The simplicity of the storyline allows us to dive deep into each of the characters, prodding their vulnerabilities and seeing how they respond. We can find pieces of ourselves reflected in them. It challenges them to face their monsters and asks us where we keep our own.

Creating this play has been both a challenge and a delight. It was due to hit the stage in May, and fortunately we are back in a “post-lockdown/living with Covid” world, still making theatre.

Helping my wonderful, talented, hardworking team of  actors “meet” their characters has been a treat. Carl has written some wonderful layers into this piece and it has been a pleasure unfolding them together.

The other characters in the play (Liam, The monster and The batch) have been brought to life thanks to a wonderful team of crew. Each adds another essential layer to the production. Their immense knowledge and hard work is appreciated.

I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Sofie Welvaert, Director

The Globe Theatre, Dunedin
17 – 26 September 2020
Wed-Sat, 7.30pm
Sun 20 Sept, 2pm
Adult $25 | Concession $20
Block of 5 or more $20 | Opening Night Special $15
Members $15 | School Students (with ID) $10

Important note: While we hope to be out of Level 2 by 17 September the Globe has a Level 2 and Level 1.5 Operational Guide if that is necessary. This will include a cap on bookings to 30 per performance, assigned and managed seating, controlled entry to the theatre. We will do what we can to make the theatre a safe place and all we ask is for you to come along and see the play!

place and all we ask is for you to come along and see the play!

Mark Alymer: 
Cheyne Jenkinson
Tonia Alymer:  Sheree Hawker
Shirley Alymer:  Kay Masters
Jack Alymer:  Ray Spence

Stage Manager:  Lisa Danuser
Virtual Design:  Sofie Welvaert
Movement Director:  Jeasey Sehgal
Lighting:  Brian & Jamie Byas
Sound:  Dylan Shield
Technical Operators:  Jamie Byas, Dante Dawes
Set Construction:  Ray Fleury, Helen Davies, Shannon Mclaren
Mural:  Chris Vialle

Theatre ,

Intense and disturbing

Review by Barbara Frame 20th Sep 2020

Four people arrive at a lakeside bach for the weekend, and tempers explode almost immediately. It isn’t just the pouring rain, the leaky roof, the dangerously flickering light and the nasty smell – It’s also two years since Liam died. 

Essentially, this is a play about the death of child, and how people handle grief. Jack’s grandson’s death is tied up with Jack’s own unconquerable guilt, grandmother Shirley is resourceful in a traditional Kiwi-mother way, and daughter-in-law Tonia is almost ready to rebuild her life. Mark, Liam’s father, is a mess, and his internal torment manifests itself as rage. A happy family weekend this is not.

Carl Nixon’s award-winning play is so intense that it seems like a vortex, dragging the audience into its centre. As well as the mundane reality of the bach there’s another aspect: a deep lake said to contain a monster. It also has a raft, built long ago by Jack, symbolising something that Mark can never quite reach.

The Globe’s production, intelligently and sensitively directed by Sofie Welvaert, maintains the sense of danger from the first moments.

As Mark, Cheyne Jenkinson is painfully good, bringing a finely-tuned understanding of his character’s psychology to the part of Mark and showing how grief can become selfish and destructive. Kay Masters’ and Globe newcomer Sheree Hawker’s portrayals of Shirley and Tonia are sympathetic and capable, Ray Spence does a good job of presenting the not very articulate older New Zealand male, though his performance would be improved by more varied volume and tone.

The sense of menace is heightened by lighting by Brian and Jamie Byas, sound by Dylan Shield and a mural by Chris Vialle. The very realistic bach has been constructed by Ray Fleury, Helen Davies and Shannon McLaren and allows both interior and exterior action.

This disturbing, involving production is the Globe’s first this year, and will run until 26 September. 


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Dramatic, moving, engrossing and finally uplifting

Review by Terry MacTavish 19th Sep 2020

At last, through the dripping bush and driving West Coast rain (“for the Coast it’s just drizzle”), there it is – the bach: woodpile and little red gumboots on the veranda, roof leaking and carpet rotting, lights on the blink and the matches for the fire damp, stench of something dead and decaying in the ceiling. A man crushed by grief, his desperate wife, his anxious mother and the father he can’t forgive, trapped together by rising floods, the raft of childhood holidays bobbing out of reach on the lake. 

With what serendipitous timing the Globe presents the typical ‘family bubble’, that since lockdown we have all come to know so well, ready to explode under the pressure of proximity, in a mad burst of accusations and confessions. Carl Nixon’s play The Raft premiered at the Court in 2007, but its relevance in 2020 is remarkable.

The Globe’s set reeks of nostalgia, of Kiwi holidays at the bach; a shabby room with cast-off furnishings, pride of place given to a faded print most of us recognise: a herd of horses galloping wildly in the moonlight. Ferns are growing under the veranda, reminding me of a Stewart Island holiday when we discovered penguins nesting beneath ours, while weka wandered in and out at will.

One theatre wall is painted over with a stunning mural by Chris Vialle, an impressionistic view of bush and water, which becomes pure magic under the shifting lighting designed by Brian and Jamie Byas. The sound by Dylan Shield is similarly atmospheric, from the incessant rain to sinister rumblings and distant childish laughter, suggestive of things supernatural, a monster taniwha, perhaps, or a lost child.

According to Nixon, “The raft is a metaphor for not having any control over things, for being out there, pushed around by the currents,” but director Sofie Welvaert has ensured this Raft is a tightly controlled production despite the wild romanticism of the setting. There is a strong sense from the beginning that what is to come is absolutely necessary, that the storm must be endured if the family is to win through to calm waters and safety.

The cast of four is tightly focused and the pace builds steadily, the revelation of each character in turn adding to our understanding and leading inexorably to a most satisfying climax. Two years ago, a child died, and a family imploded. Can Liam’s parents and grandparents take this last chance of a weekend in the family bach where they once were happy, to forgive themselves and each other?

The play is driven by the unquenchable energy of Cheyne Jenkinson as Mark Alymer, the tormented father of drowned Liam. Jenkinson is both compelling and chilling, his intensity making for some spellbinding moments as our empathy for him is tested by his frequent cruelty to those closest to him, culminating in a physical fight (choreographed by Jeasey Sehgal) that is hard to watch.

As Jack, the father Mark once adored, then came to despise, and now holds responsible for his misery, Ray Spence is also splendid, truly moving as a man even more repressed than his son. Their scenes together are as frustrating as they are riveting. Circumstances that will become clear have caused Jack to suffer a stroke, from which he is only partially recovered. With grim humour, and one arm limp at his side, Spence succeeds in conveying Jack’s speech difficulties without letting us lose a word.

Kay Masters is comfortably cast as his long-suffering wife Shirley, dealing sympathetically with the husband who repeatedly shrugs her off, answering his furious, “I can do it by myself!” with a gentle, “Yes dear, you just need a little help doing it by yourself.”

She also maintains a cosy, pleasantly natural relationship with daughter-in-law Sonia, played with quiet grace by Sheree Hawker, and the scene in which they share a secret gin is one of my favourites; a most welcome break from the tension between the men. Hawker shows us a woman who, though at the end of her endurance, yet has the courage to make one last attempt to save the man she loves.

Each character has their own burden of guilt to bear, but for each there is at least one family member with whom they can share their anguish. Despite the predictable pattern of revelatory speeches, I find myself completely engrossed in each story.

I admire the way director Welvaert has found the moments of domestic humour and warmth in The Raft without in any way diminishing the seriousness of the themes.  The powerful symbolism of the language is respected without being unduly stressed, and the nightmarish supernatural aspects are handled with subtlety.

How fine it is to be back in a real theatre watching a real drama, well scripted and properly staged! The audience, at capacity under Level 2 restrictions, is positively euphoric. I can’t but wonder how many families here have had their relationships tested, and secrets revealed and maybe resolved, during the past months. Released from our own bubbles, we understand the characters Nixon has created, the stress they are under, and we hope for a positive resolution for them.  It may deal with the most terrible of human tragedies, but this Globe production of The Raft leaves its audience uplifted – even buoyant!


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