Tiger Play

BATS Theatre, Wellington

25/01/2006 - 28/01/2006

Production Details

Written by Gary Henderson
Directed by Richard Finn

A mattress in the kitchen, a wake and bake girlfriend and a whole lot of free time, it’s no wonder Roz is looking elsewhere for inspiration and the new flatmate’s tattoo may just do it. TigerPlay explores the perils of unemployment right here in Wellington.

This is not just another show about a bunch of flatmates, there’s more to kill on the dole than just time and TigerPlay might take a bite!

Dushka Blakely
Julia Watkin
Deborah Lawrence
Charles Masina

Theatre ,

New talents unleashed

Review by John Smythe 31st Mar 2006

What a pleasure to see an early work of one of our leading playwrights, especially when it’s as well revived as this one!

Commissioned for Young & Hungry 1994, Gary Henderson’s TigerPlay set a standard for flatmate plays that has not been equalled since. Its main virtue is that it’s about something much more that the minutiae of flatting.

What Henderson explores is the possibility that, like a zoo-caged tiger, a young person trapped in a pointless existence might, given the right provocation, be capable of killing someone. Written for a cast of five (2f, 3m), this production at Bats does it with 3f and 1m – hence the co-op’s name: 3+1.

With total conviction Dushka Blakely captures and harnesses the unrealised potential of Roz (originally Russ) while Julia Watkin’s Alison epitomises the non-life of a jobless stoner and Deborah Lawrence commands empathy for her painfully, and at time comically, co-dependent Simone.

The measure of Charles Masina’s talent lies in my failing to realise for a long time that he played both the gentle cat-loving Zoo Keeper and the wired, volatile and finally violent Davey.

Thanks to Henderson’s craft each character gets to explore a range of active and passive emotional states in this impeccably orchestrated black comedy. Director Richard Finn (and rehearsal director Ken Blackburn) ensure the whole cast rises to the challenges set with alacrity.

This production opened late last year as a New Zealand College of Performing Arts (Whitireia Community Polytechnic) graduation show. Now 3+1 has established itself as a fully-fledged professional co-op. TigerPlay is on at Bats for four nights only and well worth seeing.


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What a tiger triggers

Review by Lynn Freeman 31st Mar 2006

12 years ago I saw the world premiere of Gary Henderson’s Young and Hungry production of  Tigerplay.  It was compelling, clever, funny and tragic, all in 50 tight, emotional minutes.  It still is, and a gender change for the protagonist from male to female has introduced a new twist that works like crazy.  Tigerplay was a bold choice by these four NZ College of Performing Arts graduates and they have produced something special. 

Roz has crawled from one dole day to the next for ten pointless, energy- sapping years.  She escapes to the zoo where a tiger captivates her to the point of obsession.  Her flatmate Alison deals with the hopelessness of their situation by escaping into a drugged haze.  Into their flat comes Simone, whose bullying boyfriend Davey keeps on a tight leash of fear and violence.  Simone’s tiger tattoo unknowingly triggers something in Roz that no one could have expected.

Dushka Blakely captures all the frustration and hopelessness of Roz’s situation in a taught and utterly believable performance.   Julia Watkin cleverly injects the drugged out black humoured Alison with a strong sense of self preservation.  Simone starts out as a pitiable character but Deborah Lawrence gradually lets us see the woman behind the victim, while Charles Masina transforms himself from the sweet hearted zoo keeper to the nightmarish boyfriend Davey.

This is a terrific combination from four young actors determined to keep producing work together. Can’t wait to see their next show!


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