Tuatara’s The Third Eye, 30 Arthur Street, Te Aro, Wellington

02/11/2017 - 11/11/2017

4th Wall Theatre, New Plymouth

21/02/2019 - 22/02/2019

Production Details


Red Scare Theatre Company’s final show of 2017 is a change of pace from the wry politics of Yellow Face and the fast and loose satire of M’Lady. Under is a new solo show by Cassandra Tse (Outstanding New Playwright Nominee, Wellington Theatre Awards 2015) and stars Chris Green, renowned performer who toured Mervyn Thompson’s Coaltown Blues nationally for 8 years. The production will be directed by James Cain (Richard II, Horatio).

Under explores an unnamed narrator’s relationship with his wife May – an athlete and an artist who has disappeared. As he tells and retells their story he starts to learn that ‘remembering is a game for two players’.  

Under is about the extraordinary nature of ordinary love” says Tse, “it’s about the way memory shapes our identity – it’s about the difficulty of loving someone when that person no longer exists.” The play was commended in the PANZ Long Play Award 2017 and shortlisted for Auckland Theatre Company’s The Next Stage.

Actor Chris Green had seen previous Red Scare shows and was “mesmerized by Cassandra’s writing. I took a punt and asked if she would consider writing a piece for me.” Tse, who had worked alongside Chris as a performer, was thrilled at the opportunity; she recalls that “Chris commissioned me to write a comedic musical… I ended up delivering a rather serious non-musical play instead, and am very grateful that he was interested in going ahead with the project anyway!”

The writing process was over the course of two years, while Tse was overseas, doing her theatre internship in New York. Green had figured that the chance had gone and so was overwhelmed when on an early morning he received the script in an unexpected email. “I cried. I knew this was a beautiful work, a remarkable gift to a performer carrying with it all the responsibility of having been entrusted.”

James Cain, Marketing Manager of Red Scare, directs this production. His previous shows include Richard II and Horatio and teaches Shakespeare to a student collective called The Arden Forest Dwellers. Cain has “loved Cassandra’s writing ever since we met in a scriptwriting workshop at Victoria University. She has such empathy towards her characters and can communicate their pain and struggles so clearly. To have the opportunity to bring the script to life and work so closely with Chris who’s such a giving and focused performer, is incredibly rewarding” 

This new work will premiere in Tuatara’s The Third Eye on 30 Arthur Street, just off Cuba Street. Under will be the first theatrical staging performed in this venue, something which both Red Scare and Tuatara are keenly anticipating.

Three years since initial conversations about the piece began, Tse is “very grateful to get to work with James, Chris and the rest of the UNDER team to bring this beautiful little work to life.”

Tuatara’s The Third Eye, 30 Arthur Street, Te Aro, Wellington  
2-11 November 2017
at 7:30pm
Tickets available at www.redscare.co.nz/under


4th Wall Theatre, 11 Baring Terrace, New Plymouth
Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd February 2019
Tickets $25

Hawera Repertory
Repertory House
Saturday 2nd March 2019

Theatre , Solo ,

Beautifully crafted

Review by Taryn Utiger 25th Feb 2019

This poetic play will pull you Under into a world of lingering memories.  

Performed by Chris Green and written by the award-winning playwright Cassandra Tse, Under will move you to the depths of sadness, splash you with humour, and wash your cheeks with emotion.

It is an intimate and deeply moving piece of work which tells the story of a woman named May who has disappeared – and a man who loves her and would do anything to find her.

At times this play laps at the edges of poetry, it’s lyrical language tenderly coaxing the audience into a world filled with love, laughter, and ultimately pain.

So inviting is the language that when Green speaks of salty lips, you can almost taste the beach, smell the waves and feel that sun kissing your shoulders.

The same goes for the melancholy in this story. For those who can relate to its subject matter, Green easily returns you, sometimes reluctantly, to situations you’ve been in yourself and can still feel the keen sting of. 

Green’s portrayal is heart-warming and heart-breaking all at once, and together with Tse they present an ode to the tenacity of loving partners. Under is a homage to the strength it takes to keep caring for someone who quite simply, is just not there anymore.

The technical aspects of Under are simple, allowing the story to rightfully take centre stage. However, clever use of watery dream-like lighting adds to the ambience and helps to shift the story between memories and present day.

Under is a charming, emotive play, and it’s easy to see why it has been shortlisted for Auckland Theatre Company’s The Next Stage programme, and was commended for the Playwrights’ Associations of New Zealand Long Play Award in 2017.

This is a beautifully crafted piece of work, and one that won’t be easily forgotten.


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Sensitive, nuanced, delicate, poetic

Review by Tim Stevenson 03rd Nov 2017

Under is a beautifully crafted, skilfully presented piece of theatre about a man who has lost his wife and is now looking for her.  

Enlisting the audience as his collaborator, he goes searching through his dreams and memories for clues to where she might have gone.

His quest takes him back to the beginning, to when he and his wife first met, and then on through their life together – the little triumphs and tragedies, the shared jokes and discoveries. On the way, he delivers wry comments on life, love and literature; he’s a freelance editor, so we get plenty of the latter. 

This is a portrait of a marriage painted in miniature. The sole character’s monologue builds up a word canvas out of small, domestic-scale observations and events. The play’s author, Cassandra Tse, lifts her composition above the humdrum through her well-judged choice of the telling detail, and through her language, which is one of Under’s major strengths: sensitive, nuanced, delicate, often reaching up to the poetic.  

The play is reinforced by the element of mystery which Tse skilfully weaves through the narrative, laying down small clues which come together at the end to reveal a new dimension to the purpose of the character’s monologue. Yes, that is a bit vague but your reviewer can’t say any more because he doesn’t want to spoil the surprise. Trust me, it’s very well done.

The enigmatic title of the play is one of the clues just mentioned and if you’re like me, you’ll feel rather smart when you work out what it’s saying.

Under’s single character is on stage and talking for an hour, so a lot depends on the skill of the actor. Chris Green has the skills required and plenty to spare. He gives a mostly low-key, relaxed performance, communicating shifts in mood and emotion economically and effectively with small gestures and changes of expression. Keeping within the basic physical premise of an older man searching his living room or office for something precious he’s lost, he shows an impressive range as an actor.

Green is great at acting through the pauses and demonstrates that you don’t have to chew the scenery to reach through to people. There are tears in the audience by the end.

The whole production team has worked together to give Under a high level of polish in all its aspects. I particularly like the way Green uses the whole stage, building his story while also maintaining visual interest for the audience – presumably credit for this can be shared between Green and director James Cain.

The play is admirably supported by well-designed and executed lighting – commendations to Tony Black.

This is the first production in the small theatre upstairs in The Third Eye – Tuatara’s Temple of Taste. Your reviewer shifted seats because he couldn’t see the stage from the back of the room. That reservation aside, the Third Eye people have done well: they’ve chosen a first show of high quality that is also a good match with the scale of the theatre. 


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