The Scene

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

29/05/2009 - 27/06/2009

Production Details

When you scratch the surface, what you get is surface 

Pop Culture goes under the hammer this May when the New York theatrical sensation The Scene opens at the Herald Theatre. In his directorial debut Peter Elliott delivers blacker-than-ink comedy at its’ finest as The Scene delves into a world of malfunctioning modern relationships where toxic blonde bombshells leave no survivors.

Charlie used to be somebody. Now he’s a nobody. Financially dependent on his wife and mortified by his own deadbeat status, he self-medicates his premature emasculation by ranting about the shallow lifestyle he still covets. Clea is new to the scene. She’s a trophy wife in waiting with a vocabulary ripped straight from Facebook. Blondes don’t come any more toxic than this weapon of mass destruction. When she’s done with this old dude, he’ll be left bewitched, bankrupted and buggered. Unreality bites

Now Auckland audiences can devour this sharp-elbowed comedy about the empty naricissism of contemporary pop culture and the savage economies of sex. Following on from last year’s smash The Little Dog Laughed, Silo Theatre takes another programming nudge from New York’s Second Stage Theatre with the play that the Variety called an "acerbic comedy of contemporary malaise". 

At the helm of the production is a newcomer to direction but certainly not a newcomer to the industry. Peter Elliott’s directorial debut follows on from his 2008 Silo Theatre appearances in Rabbit, opposite Claire Chitham, and his acclaimed turn as Peachum in The Threepenny Opera. In a 30-year career spanning television, film, opera and radio Elliot has appeared in Gloss, Shortland Street, Erebus, Captain’s Log and Explorers

Fast becoming the new darling of Silo Theatre, Sophie Henderson has risen amongst the ranks to become one of the most promising new actresses to work with the company. Cutting her teeth as part of The Ensemble Project in 2007, Henderson delivered a star turn as the fast-talking, status hungry Ellen in The Little Dog Laughed. In The Scene she takes on a role familiar with viewers of telly shows such as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City: a toxic, sexually avaricious blond from the provinces trying to make it big in Manhattan. 

Henderson is joined on stage by Stephen Lovatt. The New Zealand actor has just returned from the Melbourne production of Moonlight and Magnolias, director Bruce Beresford’s take on the almost-bungled making of Gone with the Wind. Lovatt is currently on screen here in New Zealand as the bumbling divorced dad Larry on Go Girls and last appeared for Silo Theatre in the smash hit production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.  

American playwright and novelist Theresa Rebeck’s name is almost as familiar in the television world as it is in theatre having written for popular television series such as Third Watch, L.A Law and NYPD Blue. Rebeck talks of her plays as being about "betrayal and treason and poor behaviour. A lot of poor behaviour." 

In the tradition of The Women, Some Girl(s) and Rabbit, Silo Theatre is once again primed to provoke a new conversation about the very uncivil battle between the sexes. Armed with the hot new thing, Silo Theatre will deliver Auckland with the best in hilarious contemporary theatre.

THE SCENE plays May 29th – June 27th at the Herald Theatre, THE EDGE®
Tickets: $20.00 – $39.00
Bookings through THE EDGE® Ticketing: 09 357 3355 or 



set design:  JOHN PARKER
costume design:  ELIZABETH WHITING
lighting design:  JEREMY FERN

project management:  JOSH HYMAN
properties management:  BECS EHLERS
technical operation:  SEAN LYNCH
technical operation:  JONATHAN CROSS
set construction:  2 CONSTRUCT
production assistance:  STUART PHILLIPS

dialect coaching:  JACQUE DREW

graphic design:  CONCRETE
production photography:  AARON K, ANDREW MALMO

Clichéd ending to smoking hot Big Apple drama

Review by Janet McAllister 01st Jun 2009

The Scene starts with a pop-rock roar and more than a flash of shapely buttock, framed by lace stocking tops and a skimptastic Little Black Dress – at first, this Silo Theatre offering looks like a sex tragicomedy for the Noughties: smokin’ hot, fast and funny.

Its four characters are living – but not necessarily enjoying – the literal high life of New York lofts and rooftop hot tubs. They drink, spit out long punchy speeches at 90mph about the necessary pain of "sucking up" to "assholes", and drink some more.

Then in sashays Clea [More]
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. 


Make a comment

Surreality check

Review by Nik Smythe 31st May 2009

A sunken white square pit dominates the middle of the stage.  Upstage, dramatically angular corrugated clear plastic sliding walls are lit pinkish red, appropriate colouring to introduce a story about ‘the scene’; the surreal, emotionally violent, sexually charged world of thespians and producers. 

The set/lighting design team of John Parker and Jeremy Fern combines intriguing visual aesthetics with functional class.  Director Peter Elliot has worked up American playwright Theresa Rebeck’s amusingly cynical story about four people, all quite detestable in their own way, though most of them get to display some redemptive qualities by the time the story is told.

Sophie Henderson is Clea, bright-eyed would-be starlet fresh in Noo Yawk from Ohio, radiating sex, blondeness, trouble; ostensible naivety and joyful passion thinly veiling her ruthless, conniving intent.  The character is very much from the same drawer as her role in The Little Dog Laughed last year, and she plays it troublingly well.

Steven Lovatt is Charlie, a bitter out of work actor, desperately trying to forge and maintain some dignity in the infamously soulless industry.  The problem with that is he’s unwilling to suck up to the very odious people who might get his career back on track. 

Edwin Wright is Charlie’s wingman, the passive opportunist Lewis.  A very funny performance of a likeably shallow man, he’s keen on Clea for the predictable reason but, sadly for him his opportunism is summarily outclassed. 

Josephine Davison is Stella, Charlie’s executive-stressed motormouth wife of fourteen years.  She works hard, suffering the fools Charlie won’t to maintain the quality of life to which they are accustomed and the resulting resentment is mutual; cue meltdown at the hands of Clea, the succubus.

Rebeck’s script is punchy and insightful.  Laying out the absurdity of the human condition adrift in the vacuum of the entertainment industry, the cast maximizes the potential of the text with believable, strong performances.

Ultimately, the males in this story are the underdogs – Charlie’s long-suffering principles give him no more status than Lewis the sycophantic diplomat.  Contrastingly, the women have the control; Clea through classic vampism, Stella through relentless organisation and righteous demands. 

So The Scene is a story about the pretensions and emptiness of show biz, made into a theatre play, being a well-established medium of that same scene.  As such it is produced, designed and performed by protagonists from our own version of said scene.  Outside of America, audiences are privy to an extra layer of paradigm confusion: we are watching Kiwis pretending to be Americans despairing at the unreality – surreality? – of the industry… 

I’m leaving off any political discussions about cultural voices and values and so on.  In it’s own right, the Silo’s The Scene is solid work, entertaining in the moment and in retrospect surprisingly thought provoking, for the reasons mentioned already.

The accents aren’t too bad at all either.
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. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council