think of all the fun you’ll find in the rubber room

BATS Theatre, Wellington

08/02/2011 - 19/02/2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details

What do you do when it’s your job to do nothing? 

The Rubber Room is where teachers are sent when they can’t be trusted to teach but can’t be fired. An empty classroom. No classes to teach. Nothing.

Sophie has been coming to work in The Rubber Room for four months. Alone. Which explains why she seems to have lost it just a little. Sam’s just turned up. He doesn’t know what he did to get there. At least, that’s what he says.

think of all the fun you’ll find in the rubber room is a darkly comic exploration of what happens to people when they have only time on their hands. 

Uther Dean’s direction is intensely physical, with intriguing moments . . . The world is topsy turvey.” Lynn Freeman, Capital Times for DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE

Starring: Hannah Banks (Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants) and Paul Waggott (Dog Sees God) 

From my accomplice, the company that brought you the critically acclaimed DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE  

8-19 February, 8.00pm 
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
BOOKINGS: 04 8024175 or
TICKETS: $18/14

More information about ‘rubber rooms’:
New York Times: October 2007 
Rubber Room Documentary: June 2009

Written & Directed by Uther Dean
Light Design William O’Neil
Sound Designed by Thomas Press
Set Designed by Hannah Smith

Sophie King played by Hannah Banks
Samuel Costa played by Paul Waggott

Hope in Rubber Room

Review by Lynn Freeman 24th Feb 2011

So there is this teacher, Sophie (Hannah Banks) and she is trapped in a classroom with no children. She has tried to find out why she’s not allowed to teach but no one will tell her. One day is very like another. She amuses herself making up games and writing in her diary. Her life has become meaningless. She can’t help wondering what is going on and what she has done to deserve this.

So into the classroom one day comes Samuel (Paul Waggott), and it looks like he is also being punished for something. But at least Sophie now has company. She tries to prise out information from the reticent newcomer, often through play. He is tight-lipped, mysterious. Is he her knight in shining armour who can help her break out of the rubber room?

Uther Dean raises many questions in his intriguing play, about how we treat people and how we deal with monotony, authority and helplessness. An intense hour long monologue can be a hard thing to concentrate on and there are very definite lag points in that 60 minutes despite the strong performances by both actors.

Overall though, you will want to know what is happening to Sophie because you care about her and her predicament. We all feel trapped at times during our lives. Sophie’s indomitable spirit gives us all hope.
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Kafkaesque Room Play

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Feb 2011

The Rubber Room is a comedy that, like Waiting for Godot, and its not-so distant cousins Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Sunday Afternoon at Home by Tony Galton and Alan Simpson, depends on time crawling unwillingly along and nothing happening at all.

The Rubber Room is a New York public school invention where teachers who can’t be trusted to teach but cannot be fired are sent to while away their time on full salary and with no students. No attempt has been made to Americanize the play in any way. It all takes place in the Rubber Room which could be a Kafkaesque room in a nameless bureaucracy anywhere in which Samuel Costa (Paul Waggott) and Sophie King (Hannah Banks) are seemingly imprisoned.

And what do they do? They play verbal, theatrical, and childish games which are really attempts to learn about each other. They end up in an overlong sequence in the dark playing fluorescent ants, which struck me as an act of desperation to keep something happening but brought roars of laughter from most of the audience.

Like Broken China, the ending turns serious when one of the pair twigs to what is really going on. Luckily, Paul Waggott and Hannah Banks are an engaging pair to be stuck with in the Rubber Room.
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Simply Rubber

Review by Phoebe Smith 09th Feb 2011

Think of all the Fun You’ll Find in the Rubber Room is the third offering from local theatre company My Accomplice, comprising of writer/director Uther Dean, producer/actor Hannah Banks and actor Paul Waggott.

The play explores the bizarre (and genuine) existence of ‘rubber rooms’ – a sort of detention facility for teachers awaiting hearings for disciplinary matters. Teachers must report to the room and spend their days (still earning their regular salaries) sitting there passing the time.

In his programme notes, director Uther Dean writes, “I wanted to see if I could write and direct a play with two people being just two people” his previous efforts having been characterised by larger casts playing multiple roles with fast transitions between a myriad of scenes. In many ways this experiment is a success for Dean, Rubber Room runs much more smoothly than either of My Accomplice’s previous productions, which at times felt more like a series of directing exercises than cohesive plays.

The air of simplicity is aided by Hannah Smith’s set, whose staffroom chairs, mildly offensive carpet and ‘90s water-cooler convey the drab and uninspired school style setting so effectively that we quickly stop seeing them.

A two man show and a locked room setting conspire to place the responsibility of getting and keeping the audience’s attention squarely on the actors’ shoulders and it becomes a simple question of: do these actors have the chops? Yes and No. Paul Waggott is an excellent performer, he is enjoyable to watch, he comes across as polite, affable, intelligent and his comic timing is excellent. Every time.  One begins to wonder if one is watching a creation, or if one is just watching Paul Waggott. I really look forward to seeing him take on a role that takes him out of his comfort zone and requires him to find something new in his bag of actor’s tricks. Hannah Banks’ Sophie King is a difficult character in many ways and could be written with more depth. Has the rubber room driven her mad? What was she like when she was first sent there? Why does she keep coming back? Banks is successful with her comedy and her energy keeps the play alive. She is less believable with her delivery of serious and ‘natural’ dialogue. Both actors have some audibility issues and need to be careful of garbling and mumbling their lines.

The opening night audience is receptive to the play’s comedy with an inspired glow stick sequence being a particular hit. A twist that is a genuine surprise would be an improvement, but Think of all the Fun You’ll Find in the Rubber Room is definitely worth a look.
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. 


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