Centrepoint, Palmerston North

11/10/2012 - 13/10/2012

Production Details

The Basement Company 2012 presents their end of year performance: 

Want to know who the next surefire stars of stage and screen are going to be? Look no further than Centrepoint Theatre’s 2012 Basement Company!

Centrepoint Theatre’s Basement Company is one of a kind in New Zealand – an intensive 8 month-long programme of workshops, run by industry professionals, for Manawatu’s most outstanding high-school drama students. The initiative has been extremely popular and is now in its 8th successful year.

Each year the Basement Company programme finishes with a performance that allows the students to showcase what they have learned.

The focus for the 2012 Basement Company has been on devising. Devised theatre is an increasingly popular form of contemporary theatre, and the members of the Basement Company have been fortunate enough to be guided extensively by 2012 Basement Company director Tim C. Yarrow. Tim recently immigrated to New Zealand from the UK and brings with him an extensive background in community, repertory and youth theatre.

The theme of this year’s performance is “Violent Generation?” and sees the ten members of the Basement Company taking the stage to perform an entirely self-devised piece.

Director Tim Yarrow says of the Company: “The level of creative ability emanating from this year’s students is remarkable. A simple thematic has invited such an intelligent response from the group, that the contribution of ideas has been overwhelming. What we have is a group of young adults challenging the perceptions regarding their generation, exploring the many facets of the ‘teenager’ and presenting that imagery to the audience. What Basement hopes to achieve this year is the creation of an original production, that both shocks and challenges their audience”.  

Centrepoint Theatre
11, 12 and 13 OCTOBER at 2pm

All tickets are $15.

Bookings available through the Centrepoint box office at 280 Church Street; phone 06 354 5740; or on the website: 

Horrifyingly plausible, credible and distressing

Review by John C Ross 12th Oct 2012

How could it be, that from within what looks like an average class of Kiwi teenagers, tensions and emotions can get to such a pitch within just a few days that what gets under way as pack-bullying of one of their classmates can lead on to someone killing her? This devised play makes it horrifyingly plausible, credible and distressing.

The title presents powerful questions. Is this generation of mid-to-late-teens truly more violent than its predecessors? And if so why? Only hints emerge of possible answers.

In an era in which individuals increasingly relate to each other at one remove – through cell-phones, texting, chatrooms, Facebook and so forth – instead of face-to-face, is an apparent growth in intimacy having the downside of a toxic deficit in broad empathy? Are the social, family and media milieux conditioning these kids into becoming more extremely violent and disrupted? Are the kids (young adults, if you like) themselves moving too precociously into sex, alcohol and drug-abuse?

The Basement Company is an annually self-selected bunch of students from secondary schools around the region who come together over an eight-month programme to hone their drama skills and then, twice a year, spend a full-on week devising a show, for public performance. (Evidently, and lamentably, a few members of this year’s group could not take part in this one because of exam pressures.) An impressive number of the ten individuals involved here already have substantial track-records in amateur theatre, reflecting emerging talent and commitment. And they could all have fine futures. 

The show starts with the sounds of a vicious pursuit, offstage, and then onstage the killing, with the perpetrators de-individualised with hoodies and masks. Then the comperes and commentators, in two fairly straight roles – Charlotte (Holly Osten) and Becky (Laura Pyne) – introduce us to the beginnings of how it had all come about: a rivalry between two girls in their claims over a guy (who’s just been murdered offstage in obscure circumstances, as the action-initiating event), who had ironically been gay, and only faking a sexual interest in either of them.

Still, once Sophia (Lydia Boon) and her ally Lilly (Georgia Mayer) develop a hate against Ivy, it takes on a momentum of its own. These two – Sophia and Lilly – are quite challenging roles; it takes fine judgement and probably also good directing to have them going believably near to the top yet not over the top. In opposition to them, Adelaide Levis gives a dignified and sympathetic rendition of Ivy.

The other really demanding role is Pierre Barber’s, as Kane, the friend and more-than-friend of the murdered Mikie, needing to convey convincingly (as he does, again without over-acting) the increasingly desperate state of mind that will lead on to his being carried away into killing Ivy.

Daniel Webster as Kane’s side-kick Jacks has less to do yet does it well enough. Rosie Anderson makes good use of the acting opportunities she develops as Jan, Mikie’s bereaved sister, going quite a bit off the rails, as they say.

Frankie Curd as Blair, and Tobias Lockhart as Theo, Ivy’s friends, both get their strongest character development after Ivy’s death in addressing the school assembly (us in the auditorium, with the other cast-members scattered around in it, audibly making snarky remarks).

Throughout there is no shortage of the F-word, used adjectively or literally. Do some people in this age-group really swear that much? And are they that enviably promiscuous?  

With the show being performed in afternoons in the main auditorium, amidst most of the set in place for the main show currently running, Well Hung, one feels early on the ghostly ambience of that other show, yet clever use of lighting and the intensity of the action soon enough catches one up in it.

All credit to Tim Yarrow, the director, and to the entire cast. Let’s hope they’ll go on to marvellous adventures on stage and television. 


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