4th Wall Theatre, New Plymouth

15/12/2022 - 18/12/2022

Production Details

By Ralph McCubbin Howell
Directed by Holly Shanahan

Presented by West Coast Youth Theatre

It started in the way that all mysteries do… tumbling out of the ordinary. 

In New Zealand, there are over 56,000 kilometres of paper roads – streets and towns that were never built – that exist only on surveyors maps… Or do they? 

In a small north Canterbury town lives Maggie, an eccentric old lady and larger-than-life local personality.  When her son returns home, concerned by recent erratic behaviour, Maggie reveals ‘the one story she never told him’…

TheRoadThatWasn’tThere takes the audience on a wild journey, down Maggie’s paper road, exploring what-might-have-beens and the curious relationship between the real and imagined worlds.  It is a modern Fairytale rooted in New Zealand folklore – from t?niwha in hot water tanks, to the panthers that roam the Canterbury hills.

First performed by Trick of The Light Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, the play has gone on to National and International tours, to widespread critical acclaim. Playwright Ralph McCubbin Howell describes the show as ‘astoryfromthetwitchyedgesofChildren’sLiteratureadarkworkreminiscentofCoraline,Pan’sLabyrinth,ortheworldofthelate(great)MargaretMary”.

Originally written as a play for two actors and multiple puppets, West Coast Youth Theatre reimagines the text in an original ensemble production – with a cast of 24 young actors (and one puppet!).

Let us entertain and enthral you.. maybe you’ll dream a little – of all the things that could have been … or could yet come to pass.

A word of warning..  ADULTS may leave this show with a burning sense of childish wonder! For our younger audience members (and some adults), be warned, the show does have some scary moments. Suitable for 7yrs+ (with above scary warning), no children under 5yrs permitted.

4th Wall Theatre, 11 Baring Terrace, Strandon, New Plymouth
Thursday 15th – Saturday 17th December 2022, 7pm
Sunday 18th December 2022, 5pm
$30 Adults
$25 Seniors/Film Industry Guilds
$20 Students
$25 Groups of 8+

Starring WCYT Company 2022 in alphabetical order:
Sydney Becker    Cleo Burwell    Pipa Clarkson    Logan Fawkner    Daniel Fenwick    Tom Hadlow    Isla Hepburn    Rebecca Lusty    Aimee O’Connor    Layne Reed    Chai Ruakere-Forbes    Sukena Shah    Olive Bug Stinson

With ensemble support from
Katie Adora Bielawski    Gus Daly    Aiden Hocking    Amelie Manella    Ava Pattison    Malachi Paraha    Eden Perkins    Olive Wadds    Tai Wano    Helena Rollins    Bryah Edwin    Tara Wood and Tom Kerr

Presented by arrangement with Playmarket NZ

Theatre , Youth ,

Engaging, imaginative, created with focus, energy, humour, powerful characterisation and clear diction

Review by Ngaire Riley 17th Dec 2022

Good theatre creates a world that is real and alive and happening before you. It is a magical experience that shares, explores and amplifies character, ideas and story. Don’t miss The Road That Wasn’t There, at 4th Wall Theatre, New Plymouth, this Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 5pm. It is a rich, exciting experience.

It’s a New Zealand story that weaves together history, legend, a daughter’s relationship with her mother and an unknown father, St Bathans in Central Otago and a paper road – one of those roads that was planned but never made.

The very strong West Coast Youth Theatre cast of 26 creates the story with focus, energy, humour, powerful characterisation and clear diction. Using props like boxes, an umbrella, a broom, knitting, a suitcase and paper – lots and lots of it, including one very delightful white piwakawaka, lit by a torch – the performers create strong people, places and mood to tell this dark story.

It’s a case of less is more. With strong miming and crisp timing by the cast, the story unravels in strange and mysterious ways. Some characters are played by two people, who are often on stage at the same time, like Maggie and Young Maggie. The trinity of women who are Rosie Parker are beautifully linked by their soft burgundy hats and clothes. The ensemble always packs a punch when it’s on stage. They create places – a library, on a bus … – they bend time and become 19th century characters trapped in a time loop; they tell the ‘Kaianio and the Kopuwai’ legend with puppets and light; they tell the shortest story of Captain Cook with the most imaginative resources. It seems as if there is nothing this talented group can’t do.

The set is white: a white backdrop, boxes, flats and floor. The white paper road twists its way through the audience. The white beautifully absorbs vibrant lighting projected on it. Lighting and darkness build the tension of the story that Mother tells Maggie – and finally, Maggie believes her.

An engaging script underpins the performance. Maggie threatens to send her mother to the “Dusty Corners Rest Home”. Mother tells Maggie that she was so hungry, “We ate the floorboards for breakfast,” and that she became a “topographical terrorist”.

I took three friends with me – one seven, one nine, one 14 – and I am three score and ten. All of us absolutely loved this performance. Make time. Go and see it. It’s worth seeing twice and you only have two more chances!

Thank you Holly, Raewyn and Brett, all the supporters and the cast. Tino pai.


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