04/11/2016 - 17/12/2016
Centrepoint favourites return in brand new un-bare-ably funny comedy
Centrepoint will host a reunion of sorts this summer. Six of the funniest actors from its 42-year history return to tread the boards in a brand new Christmas show, by the writer of MAMIL: Middle Aged Man In Lycra, that promises to have audiences in stitches.
Greg Johnson stars as Ron Hewlett, a man on the brink of a mid-life crisis. He’s lost his job, he’s about to lose his home, and his kids are threatening to call CYFS for cutting off the internet. So, when a local radio station offers a million bucks for a buck-naked sprint at the Mitre 10 Cup final, Ron must decide if saving it all is worth baring it all.
Johnson, perhaps best known for his roles in The Insatiable Moon and Shortland Street, returns to Manawatu after appearances in Centrepoint smash hits Penalties, Pints and Pirouettes, and Four Flat Whites in Italy. Audiences who have seen him here before will know he’s certainly not one for sticking to the sidelines. Having received more than a fleeting glimpse at his “dad-bod” in The Motor Camp, this time prepare yourselves for more than an eyeful of Johnson!
When asked what appealed to him about doing the play, Johnson responds cheekily: “The nudity.”
Returning alongside Johnson is The Motor Camp’s Danielle Mason as his wife Linda. Eddie Campbell (Who Wants to be 100?) and Theresa Woodham (Oh! What a Lovely War) grace the Centrepoint stage, decades after their most recent appearances, as Ron’s eccentric parents. The Hound of the Baskerville’s Simon Leary and local theatre favourite Carrie Green (White Rabbit Red Rabbit) play everyone else.
The idea of The Streaker came to writer Gregory Cooper after a friend’s relative – a very straight-laced, sensible man – got drunk at a cricket match. “After some ‘encouragement’ from his mates, he decided to streak. He only made it a few metres before security took him down and once he’d sobered up was absolutely mortified about what he’d done. This story of someone sensible doing something very un-sensible appealed.”
With nine separate productions of his work staged around Australasia over the past year, including That Bloody Woman and The Complete History of the Royal New Zealand Navy Abridged, Cooper is quickly establishing himself as one of New Zealand’s most prolific new playwrights.
Sadly, The Streaker alsomarks the end of an era for Centrepoint Theatre, being Jeff Kingsford-Brown’s final show as artistic director after five years in the role.“I’m delighted to end my tenure here working alongside a terrific cast on this hilarious Kiwi comedy with heart. Bring it on!” An announcement will be made later this year regarding Kingsford-Brown’s replacement.
The rules are simple: 100 metres. $1 million. No clothes attached. How far will Ron go for his family? And how far will he get? Sprint to find out in this brand new un-bare-ably funny comedy.
The Streaker was originally commissioned by Christchurch’s The Court Theatre, and premiered there in September 2016. Centrepoint Theatre presents a brand new version, adapted especially for Manawatu audiences.
Centrepoint Theatre, 280 Church Street, Palmerston North
4 November – 17 December 2016
Wednesday 6.30pm; Thursday-Saturday 8pm; Sunday 5pm
Bookings: 06 354 5740; centrepoint.co.nz; email@example.com
Greg Johnson, Danielle Mason, Eddie Campbell, Theresa Woodham, Simon Learyand Carrie Green
Set Design: Oliver Morse
LX Design: Darryn Woods
Costume Design: Harriet Denby
Challenges met with unpredictable twists
Review by John C Ross 08th Nov 2016
The Streaker is fun. Fun is what we need as the Christmas season settles in (heck, it’s still early November, but never mind that).
So, you’re Ron, a relatively ‘normal’ sort of bloke-next-door, forty-eight years old, supporting a younger wife, a couple of demanding, still-dependent offspring, and your two aging parents, and out-of-the-blue you’ve been dumped from your job. All your efforts to score another real job have been getting nowhere and the bank is just about to foreclose you out of your house.
Improbably (this is the Manawatu, but never mind that either!), a media company is offering a cool million bucks to anyone who can carry out a full-scale streak during an up-and-coming local rugby match. Heck, it’s ridiculously self-humiliating, but how many options have you got?
You’re the playwright, Gregory Cooper – given a basically simple story-arc, how do you throw in enough complications, twists, character-interest and surprises, to sustain interest and momentum, throughout a full-length show? How do you make the characters in themselves sufficiently interesting and empathetic, situations and processes interesting and amusing enough per se?
Here then are two challenges to ponder. Whatever, the playwright has coped with his quite well. The dialogue rings true enough, sometimes at a slightly farcical level. It gets the Kiwi idioms unobtrusively right. The show holds your interest through to an ending that turns out to be not as predictable as one would have expected.
Without giving too much away, let’s say that the streak does happen, yet no-one gets literally stark naked – what does happen is much more flamboyant and funnier than that. The costume designer Harriet Denby has evidently had a whole lot of fun with this.
This production is Jeff Kingsford-Brown’s last as director and Centrepoint’s Artistic Director, and it does him credit. It moves along well with no slackness or technical fumbles. It’s well cast.
Greg Johnson is something of a veteran of stage and screen and brings to his performance as Ron a sure sense of character, tone and timing. Eddie Campbell is even more of a veteran, playing his father Bill as a cantankerous old codger (ostensibly at only seventy-two – damn, I’m older than that). It’s marvellous to have them on stage at Centrepoint again, as it is to have Teresa Woodham as Ron’s mum Llana; she began her professional theatre career here, way back.
Danielle Mason gives a strong and rich performance as Ron’s wife Linda. Simon Leary and Carrie Green each play four or five roles, and make this look like fun.
Oliver Morse as set designer has created a very clever setting, with much of the detail of settings drawn or painted on the revolvable panels of a back-scene, together with large, coloured square blocks, as chairs or whatever. Darryn Woods’ lighting design works well.
The show as a whole is lower-key than, say, Ladies’ Night, but it’s enjoyable and well worth enjoying.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
A romping comedy
Review by Alexandra Bellad-Ellis 07th Nov 2016
Ron Hewlett is having a terrible time: he’s been made redundant, the bank is threatening to take his house and his family is hardly helping. Then his best friend offers a solution: the local radio station is offering a million dollar prize for anyone who sprints naked across the field at the Mitre 10 Cup Final. Ron has to decide what, and who, is worth taking a stand for.
This fast-paced comedy from Gregory Cooper, who also wrote MAMIL: Middle Aged Man In Lycra, is set in Palmerston North which adds a taste of local flair to the piece. Having recognisable voices for the radio hosts gives another relatable moment for the audience.
The cast is made up of six actors, with two, Simon Leary and Carrie Green, playing a number of roles as the play moves through different scenes. Leary’s quick fire character changes are strong, with each character getting its own distinct mannerisms. His standout is Ron’s socially challenged best friend while Green does a great job of capturing a child of seven.
Eddie Campbell and Theresa Woodham star as Ron’s hilarious parents, still managing to embarrass him, even though he’s 48. Ron’s wife is delightfully played by Danielle Mason, who brings to bear all the stress of managing a family that is one step away from complete chaos.
As the main character, Ron, Greg Johnson is believable, likable and funny, bringing to life many of the challenges faced by those of us suddenly launched onto the job market.
A mention must be made of the set designed by Oliver Morse, with its cleverly sliding and turning doors to change scenes. Overall The Streaker is a romping comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
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