Theatre Militia’s Symposium

BATS Theatre, Wellington

12/02/2006 - 15/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

A devised work
Directed by Rachel Lenart
Produced by Aimee Froud


Five philosophers discuss love, sex and desire. Modelled on Plato’s classic dialogue, Theatre Militia’s Symposium probes every orifice ofmodern sexuality. This will appeal to every kind of deviant from the filthy to the frigid. Radical. Sordid. Hilarious. Unmissable.

Michael Ness
Richard Dey
Hannah Clarke
Felix Preval
Kathryn Tyree
Bex Joyce

Theatre ,

50 mins

Distinctive yet unpredictable

Review by Lynn Freeman 22nd Feb 2006

ONE of the truly great things about Theatre Militia is that they have a distinctive style but are never, ever predictable.

Their work has a literary bent, is smart, and deliciously funny. In this, the company’s fourth production, they explore love though the great minds of Stein and her partner Alice, Socrates, Freud, de Beauvoir and Picasso. These great thinkers are brought together for a symposium, courtesy of Plato, to explain what love is.

Michael Ness’s Socrates can’t separate heart and head, but for Richard Dey’s unforgettable Picasso the ultimate love is an orgy. Love is expressed in Stein’s rosy prose by Hannah Clarke and Felix Preval is dynamite as the frustrated analyst Freud.

Kathryn Tyree has Simone de Beauvoir to a tee and, amidst all the fine theories, it’s Bex Joyce’s very grounded Alice who nails exactly what love is.


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Phallocentric philosophic fun

Review by John Smythe 13th Feb 2006

Any notion that the ancient Greek philosophers and those who followed were either impenetrable intellectuals or tedious old farts is proved a giant phallusy by Theatre Militia’s Symposium.

In the context of a modern-day Dionysian festival, Plato’s Symposium – a written account of a series of dialogues exploring Eros – is revivified with new participants. Following a festive masquerade featuring a fine upstanding member and masked revellers with large dangling phalli, the leaves of memory are folded back, in true Platonic fashion, to recall an unforgettable party.

Gertrude Stein (Hannah Clarke) and her lover Alice B Toklas (Bex Joyce) host a wine-fuelled symposium with Socrates (Michael Ness), Sigmund Freud (Felix Preval), Simone De Beauvoir (Kathryn Tyree) and Pablo Picasso (Richard Dey). Charades bring Adam and Eve then Oedipus into the frame of reference. Rhetoricians and drama queens all, they create a timeless dialectic that re-ignites sparks between the terminals of love, lust and sexual libertarianism.

Socrates toasts the search for love. Gertrude offers a paean to love’s awakening. Pablo confronts the sexual monster in men: "Does he want to wake her or kill her?" Simone deconstructs the man-as-predator, woman-as-prey syndrome and the essentially destructive nature of emotional dependence.

With drunken flair, Sigmund interrogates the complex reasons for sex and psycho-analyses each guest, revealing more about himself than them in the process. But Alice finds love beautiful in its simplicity and exhorts them to leave love alone to let love live.

A romantic waltz sequence, choreographed by Lyne Pringle, escalates to orgiastic climax. And so to the closing chorus which, like the opening one, is delightful in its Gang Show innocence. A special mention, here, for solo musician Ari Freeman who conjures ingenious auditory texture from an electric guitar and an array of odd objects to energise, punctuate and colour proceedings.

Producer Aimee Froud and director Rachel Lenart ensure the show prances on a solid foundation of research, intelligence and insightful humour. Their team is fully-aligned. In individual role play and tight ensemble work the sextet’s combined talents and focused energies produce a fabulous fifty minutes of philosophical fun.


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