The Storm

Lyall Bay Surf Club, Wellington

10/04/2008 - 13/04/2008

Production Details

Fringe Winners ready to tackle a Storm

First they inherited the world with the meekest of characters, now the award-winning theatre collective Three Spoon Theatre with the aid of EAT Wellington are taking on The Storm – ‘an appalling mistranslation of a Roman Comedy’ by Peter Oswald this April at Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.

The company’s second production is another offering of absurd, vulgar, geeky madness, except this time taking place on an Ancient Roman shore. Something is brewing on this Colin McCahon-esque shore, and everybody wants to get their freedom – from the slaves to the prostitutes – as long as they can own someone else (except for Daemones, who just wants to eat his yoghurt in peace).

Director and co-founder of Three Spoon Theatre Alex Lodge says that the intention for the production of The Storm centres around celebrating live theatre, which comes from the foundation of the play as a Roman Comedy. One can expect live music, actors speaking to the audience directly, a simple set and a lot of local humour in our show – "basically that spirit of the actors having fun with each other as well as with the audience, a key aim for each Three Spoon show".

Director of the New Zealand Fringe Festival Mark Westerby also sees the company’s unpretentious and inventive nature as being one of its keys to a bright future in the theatre industry: "They have the right elements to success, of which one is most definitely enthusiasm." Following the success of March of the Meeklings: an Apocalyptic Romp which won Best of Theatre and Best of Fringe at this year’s festival, a return season will be staged at Downstage Theatre May 6-10 as part of their ‘pick of the Fringe’ season.

The eye of The Storm will be at the Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving Club from April 10th-13th, with performances at 7pm on Thursday and Friday, and at 2pm and 5pm for the weekend. Tickets are $12 waged, $16 unwaged.

To book tickets, or for more information contact Adrianne Roberts (Producer) on 021 222 8212, or email

Sun/Rain/Goddess/Venus - Cherie Jacobsen
Weather/Daemones/Labrax - Ralph McCubbin Howell
Sceparnio - Paul Waggott
Plesidippus - Kent Seaman
Charmides - Edward Watson
Palaestra - Adrianne Roberts
Ampelisca - Brigid Costello
Goddess - Kate Clarkin
Master of cello, accordion, Voice, melodica - Hollie Fullbrook
Master of guitar, voice, Banjo mandolin, anchor - Tane Upjohn-Beatson

Director - Alexandra Lodge
Producer, Publicity - Adrianne Roberts
Music Composition - Hollie Fullbrook, Charlotte Bradley, Tane Upjohn-Beatson 
Set Design and construction - Alexandra Lodge, Edward Watson, Kent Seaman
Costume designer - Jeremy Keene
Rehearsal stage manager - Brigid Costello
Performance stage manager - Kate Clarkin  

2 hrs 25 mins, incl. interval

Fast furious theatre

Review by Lynn Freeman 16th Apr 2008

Occasionally a theatre company arrives out of the blue and simply blows you away.  Enter stage left, multi 2008 Fringe Festival award winners, Three Spoon Theatre.  This is just their second production after the aforementioned Fringe hit, which I missed but can’t wait to see its encore season at Downstage next month.

The Storm is a contemporary take on the classic Roman theatre genre, including togas but with the amphitheatre replaced by a seaside view courtesy of the lifesaving club. The sea and weather have a bit part to play in the play so the setting is ideal.  Alexandra Lodge has assembled a terrific cast full of talent and burning energy, all with the sense of fun and timing needed to carry off this mini-epic.

We first meet Clement – as in Clement Weather, who berates us for keeping him out via raincoats, brollies and houses – when he stamps on our ceilings, he has something to say, and we’d better listen. 

The central theme, remembering this is a comedy, is freedom – of mind and of body.  Sceparnio the slave (played with infinite charm by Paul Waggott) yearns to become a free man, but his master Daemones (Ralph McCubbin Howell whose deadpan humour is a work of genius) won’t budge – though he gave away all his other possessions after his baby daughter was abducted.

Meanwhile a pimp and his apprentice are making off with a boatload of prostitutes but their plan comes unstuck with their boat sinks. They make it back to shore, as do the lovely but worldly wise working girls Palaestra and Ampelisca (Adrianne Roberts and Brigid Costello, a dynamic duo). Their paths all cross at a shrine for Venus then things get very silly indeed.

Even with a big and enthusiastic cast, a member of the audience is needed for the big cop scene (works a treat) and one of the two multi-skilled musicians (Tane Upjohn-Beatson and Hollie Fullbrook) is required to play a pair of legs in an upturned keg.  Brilliant. It’s all fast furious fun but with rewardingly well scripted lines with infused with poetry, wit and layers of meaning.

The Storm abounds with anachronisms – as playwright Peter Oswald says, fictional characters should be free of historical constraints. Quite right too. 


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Minimalist comic style a delight

Review by John Smythe 11th Apr 2008

The source of Peter Oswald’s "appalling mistranslation of a Roman comedy", now called The Storm, is Rudens (The Rope) by Titus Maccius Plautus.

The same ancient Roman playwright also grandfathered Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors / Rogers’ and Hart’s The Boys From Syracuse (based on The Menaechmus Twins), Moliere’s The Miser (The Pot of Gold) and Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Pseudolus, Casina and several other plays). 

Director Alexandra Lodge saw The Storm in 2005 at the Globe Theatre in London, as part of their ‘World and Underworld’ Season (she was there as part of the Young Shakespeare Company that emerged from Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools run by Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ). Now Three Spoon Theatre – which she co-founded and which won this year’s Best of the Fringe Award with March of the Meeklings: an apocalyptic romp – is performing their own take on it at the Lyall Bay Surf Club.

The location, with windows to the open sea, is ideal for the coastal village setting. "We scuttle around," Lodge observes in her programme note, "building buildings, farting and fornicating, waging various wars over various ideas and chemicals – and the sea just hangs out, not making a fuss …"

But it’s the quest for freedom that gives the rather convoluted plot, and this production, its sense of purpose. "Do you depend on anything or anyone to be happy?" Lodge asks. "Well! Then you’re not free. Nope. Freedom sounds like a nice idea but it’s not for everyone – you can sink, swim, or just not get off the yacht at all. Luckily the world is comprised of equal parts of matter and doesn’t matter." (The last comment is purloined from the play itself.)

With togas for the gentry and tunics for the slaves it’s easy to distinguish the social hierarchy. Two arched entrances in rough-painted flats, with the odd arrival through the audience, allows for fluid staging as the timeless battles for independence, respect and love play out.

The company’s minimalist comic style eschews larger-than-life commedia dell’arte buffoonery for something more akin to Humourbeasts (Jemaine Clements and Taika Cohen), The Flight of the Conchords (Clements and Bret McKenzie), The Office (David Brent et al) and comedian Eddie Izzard. But there is no sense of imitation in their execution of the lengthy script. Collectively and individually they make the story and their characters very much their own.

It has to be said, their total command of the wordy script, rich in word-play, ensures the whole show sings – speaking of which, musician/singers Hollie Fullbrook and Tane Upjohn set the tone splendidly with their original and quietly raunchy songs, finally using an anchor and chain as an ingenious percussion instrument.

Ralph McCubbin-Howell is simply superb in his three roles: Weather ("call me Clement" – except he hates Wellington, and everything really); Daemones, a fair-but-firm yoghurt-supping Athenian, washed up on these shores many years ago, the only survivor (he believes) of a shipwreck that deprived him of his family; and Labrax, the odious pimp of two prostitutes.

As Sceparnio, Daemones’ slave, Paul Waggott likewise proves how much more less ‘acting’ can offer, drawing us into his wavelength of comic insights and observations rather than projecting them outward. His apparently futile love of the prostitute Ampelisca – also subtly played with witty insight by Brigid Costello – would be reciprocated if he was free, which brings human focus to the central theme.

Adrianne Roberts (also the 3 Spoons producer) brings a ‘duluscious’ Kiwi pragmatism to the other ‘tart’, Palaestra, who vowed at 16 that she would never marry until she’d found out who her father was. Frustrated by this, because he is madly in love with her, is Plesidippus, played with such camp intensity by Kent Seaman it’s a wonder he wants a woman at all.

Apart from a brief surge of passion for Palaestra, Daemones’ love interest is Venus, or rather the high priestess of the Temple of Virginal Venus (a richly voiced Charlotte Bradley, whose singing voice also packs a powerful punch) who works hard to offer the tarts another path.

Edward Watson plays Chamides, Labrax’s friend and business associate, with sleazy glee and the requisite foolishness.

In short: a delight. We can only be grateful such groups exist to bring such works to our shores. My only reservation is whether this play really needs to be this long. My instinct tells me it could lose 30 minutes and gain quite a lot in pace and clarity.  
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