Papa Hou Theatre at the YMCA, 12 Hereford Street, Christchurch

24/02/2017 - 26/02/2017

Production Details

Have miracles been cancelled? 

After several sold-out seasons of original theatre shows, NO Productions Theatre Collective is delighted to present their new Gothic tale – Unforgotten. Blending dark comedy with supernatural thriller, this show will immerse audiences into a familiar yet uncanny post-disaster world. The new CBD theatre venue Papa Hou (the YMCA) is a perfect space for this funny and disturbing site-specific show. Four shows only will be performed on 23-26 February, 8pm.

The university professor Olsen (Michael Adams) and street musician Greg (David Allen) are accidentally left behind in a contaminated city after a major nuclear disaster. Hoping to catch the last evacuation train at an abandoned railway station, they discover a strange winged creature… Is it a real angel or a statue? Will the train come for them? Have miracles been cancelled? 

Written by Christchurch playwright Nataliya Oryshchuk (originally from Ukraine), and directed by Georgina Briggs (UK), Unforgotten pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre performance. “The atmosphere of the play is partly inspired by my childhood memories of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster in Ukraine, and at the same time resonates with the experiences of Christchurch earthquakes” – says Oryshchuk – “But it’s by no means a documentary account. I like to think of it as a post-disaster fairy tale or a nuclear ghost story – an essentially Gothic tale of survival and hope” 

Each night the audience number will be strictly limited to 30.

Papa Hou (the YMCA), Christchurch CBD
23-26 February 2017
Tickets $24 full, $19 concession.
Book at Dash Tickets.

Duration is approximately 1 hour
PG 12 is recommended.

Please note that unfortunately this venue does not have wheelchair access. 

David Allen:  Greg
Michael Adams:  Professor Olsen
Nataliya Oryshchuk:  the Angel

Producer and writer: Nataliya Oryshchuk
Director: Georgina Briggs  

Theatre , Site-specific/site-sympathetic ,

High theatrical appeal

Review by Lindsay Clark 25th Feb 2017

Inspired by the evocative angel images of Toby Riddle’s book of the same name, this intriguing little drama explores similar themes of human friendship and divine compassion in a context of urban desolation. The immediacy of the human predicament is intensified by setting the play on the grubbily littered platform of an evacuation railway station and the audience is ushered in to wait for the last train to safety after a nuclear catastrophe.

We have already been tested for radiation by protectively-garbed ushers and taken note of the faulty radio reception when, (spoiler alert) from under the detritus left by panicky evacuees, emerges a battered angel, so badly damaged that it can only just move to one end of the platform where it collapses in an attitude of utter defeat. It is a strong entry into a world where what was only fable becomes real if we can trust our eyes.

Enter the last two hopefuls to await rescue and perhaps some resolution of the personal uncertainties revealed as they wait with growing anxiety for the world to care about their predicament. At first they do not see or sense the angelic presence, focussed as they are on their immediate concerns.

One is a professor of history, advocate of the humanities and intent on preserving his sense of civilised behaviour along with his life’s work in scholarly writings. The other has been his student at one time, but shrugged off academia for living as a pub musician, sustained by the bottle.

Their attitudes to the situation and each other, as well as to the musician’s teasing memory of having glimpsed the fall of something white, provides engaging material for the drama. In a sensitively-paced exploration, each has moments of frustration, antagonism and dejection. The angel, initially unnoticed by them, seems to respond to their changing relationship – and all the while the waiting goes on.

The tension heightens when a possible rescue helicopter ignores them, sealing their fate as forgotten remnants of the academic and creative life of the city and the poetic nature of the play takes hold. ‘Miracles’, says the professor, ‘are cancelled’. But behind their seat the dying angel reaches a last blessing and a last smile.

It is a thoughtful and absorbing play, worked effectively by three very talented actors and supported in the intimate space of Papa Hou by clever sound (Charlotte Crone) and lighting (Michael Adams and Georgina Marie). As Angel, Nataliya Oryshchuk controls movement exquisitely, achieving a presence at once other-worldly and compassionate.

Michael Adams is Professor Olsen, finely tuned as an advocate of the humanities forced to concede that the lessons of history have not all been learned. The object of his initial disdain, the musician, Greg, is perceptively realised by David Allen, aided by his trusty harmonica. 

The theatrical appeal of this piece is high. Clear characters, a significant context and the magical lure of the being we would all like to believe in on some level, combine to offer a fascinating hour.


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