Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

27/03/2019 - 30/03/2019

Production Details

Palamon and Arcite are soldiers, nobles and lovers… and, after losing a battle against Athens, they’re now prisoners of war.  

When they both fall in love with Emilia, the sister of the Duchess of Athens, they must use their arsenal of skills to outwit both the Athenian nobles and each other to win her hand.

From the people behind the cult hit Spot the Difference comes a modern take on a classic play: The Two Noble Kinswomen, written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher and (liberally) adapted and directed by Benny Marama.

Starring Emma Koretz and Lily Empson as the titular kinswomen and featuring a diverse cast of strong women, The Two Noble Kinswomen is an exploration of the tyranny of love. 

A celebration of all types of love, The Two Noble Kinswomen interweaves elements of Queer and Pasifika culture to create a multicultural, genderqueer, eleganza EXTRAVAGANZA (thanks, Mama Ru).

The Two Noble Kinswomen 
The Meteor Theatre, Hamilton
Wednesday the 27th – Saturday the 30th March 2019
$15 GA/$10 Concession

Emma Koretz – Palamon
Lily Empson – Arcite
Emah Hira Matiu – Emilia
Beth Preston – Theseus
Landy Nonoa – Hippolyta
Kauri Tearaura – Pirithous
Toni Garson – The Jailer
Jessica Ruck-Nu’u – The Jailer’s Daughter
Courteney Mayall – The Wooer
Caroline Waugh – The Doctor
Bronwyn Taylor – The Narrator
Mike Sorensen – The Schoolmaster 

Walter Tuakana
Tiare Tuakana
Tokoa Tuakana

Benny Marama – Director
Mike Sorensen – Choreographer
Myana Tuakana – Assistant Choreographer
Tiare Tuakana – Production Manager
Hannah Grant – Stage Manager/Costumes
Sebastian Byrne – Assistant Stage Manager
Renee McKearny – Hair and Makeup Designer
Maddy Barnsdall – Lighting Design
Stephanie Lane – Sound Operator
Jeremy Mayall – Sound Design

Theatre ,

At its heart a celebration of talent

Review by Gail Pittaway 28th Mar 2019

One of the more bizarre plays attributed in part to Shakespeare, also to the Jacobean playwright John Fletcher, The Two Noble Kinsmen – from approximately 1614, very late in his career – is rarely performed, perhaps because it is such a mishmash of stories. It borrows elements from some of Shakespeare’s other plays – Hamlet’s Ophelia, Macbeth’s Doctor, the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta which features in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with their penchant for courtly entertainments. There’s even a delightful, stiff court aide with a whiff of Polonius about him. But it all adds up to much ado about who knows what, as the main story of the noble kin is so ridiculously improbable.  

The core story comes – we are told by a chorus who has a distracting habit of using semaphore in the telling – from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and before him from Ancient Greece. Creon’s Theban army is thrashed by the Athenians and two reluctant Theban soldiers, Arcite and Palamon, are imprisoned by Theseus. Hippolyta’s sister, Emilia, is part of the wedding party and is spotted by the two prisoners through the barred windows.  Both fall instantly in love with her and forget any kinship in their hopes to gain her affections. Meanwhile the Jailer’s daughter, who has served them, has fallen in love with Palamon but fails to receive love in return, despite assisting with an escape from the jail.  She becomes progressively more delusional until a doctor intervenes with a remedy of what in our days would be called validation therapy, by which a rejected wooer pretends to be Palamon.

Emilia seems unable to choose between the cousin suitors, so Theseus proposes a duel for her hand, where the loser will be executed. All is now left to the gods to decide. Arcite prays to Mars to win the battle, Palamon prays to Venus to win Emilia’s love and Emilia prays to Minerva or Diana that the one who loves her best will win.

But enough of the plot – you get the picture: it’s complicated. I have carefully avoided gender attribution for the roles of Theseus, Arcite and Palamon as Benny Marama’s production has gone for an all-out NZ Post approach: post-colonial, post-genre, post-gender binary. These touches add humour and interest to the often confusing text, as much as they toy with audience expectations.

However, there are some problems with this production, despite a multiplicity of young talent and wonderful ideas. Not everyone is audible, such as the first appearance of the two noble kinswomen, whispering and attempting to avoid capture. Fortunately, Lily Empson and Emma Koretz gain ground as the production proceeds and give some fine scenes of wry banter, reducing the so-called nobility of soldiers to droll asides, failing to kill each other with yellow toy guns and finally competing for the love of Emilia, in a Sing Star dance-out. Emilia is given a saucy interpretation by Ema Hira Matiu, so that we genuinely don’t know which suitor, or should that be suitron, she prefers.

The production runs too evenly in pace, with too many scenes set out over three rostra and too much walking to each. This tendency is lifted by the tragedy of the Jailer’s daughter, Jessica Ruck-Nu’u, and the fluttering attempts at grasping her mental demise: an exquisite reading with beautifully shaped movement.

I wish more had been made of the Pacific band, also dance, music, song and costume, as these are gorgeous additions to the text, along with woven fans, sported with verve by Theseus (a wonderfully tetchy performance by Beth Preston) and Hippolyta (a most unusually calm Amazonian from Landy Nonoa).

The opening solo dance sequence and later entertainment with the Schoolmaster, a stunning dance choreographed and performed by Mike Sorenson and Pacific dancers, are both memorable and make the heart of this show a celebration of talent and enjoyment of play.  The company should have faith in their talent and energy to let it all out and revel in this approach for their last few nights.


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Care and craftsmanship appreciated

Review by Ross MacLeod 28th Mar 2019

As one of Shakespeare’s later collaborative works there are some familiar echoes from earlier, more well known plays here. The over-the-top love at first sight that drives the main narrative sometimes makes Romeo and Juliet look level headed, and the mad-woman being assessed has reflections of Macbeth and Hamlet. Working more as a comedy the play doesn’t have the character exploration of those shows but once rolling the narrative flows smoothly towards its conclusion.

Director Benny Marama has streamlined the script, removing unnecessary subplots, though even with these, the second half of the play seems to lag a little, retreading familiar ground several times. There’s some good laughs and entertainment to be had but a little suspension of disbelief is required. [More


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