Wheeler's Luck

The Playhouse, 31 Albany Street, Dunedin North, Dunedin

11/10/2006 - 14/10/2006

Otago Festival of the Arts

Production Details

Devised and performed by Nigel Collins and Toby Leach
Directed by Damon Andrews

“If you can see the water, then it’s worth gold.”

Small town New Zealand is changing rapidly as city folk move to buy up chunks of countryside beside lakes, rivers and the sea.

Nigel Collins and Toby Leach play the entire population of a small Kiwi beach town under threat from a big city developer in a dynamic explosion of dazzling physicality and vocal dexterity. Sharp and deliciously silly, at a breathless 80 minutes, there is not an ounce of fat in this wonderfully funny portrait of what happens when an Auckland developer moves into a small coastal town.

Performed by Nigel Collins and Toby Leach

Theatre ,

1 hr 20 mins, no interval

Delicious play no mere stroke of luck

Review by Barbara Frame 12th Oct 2006

A coastal town’s tranquillity is shattered when a big-shot property developer from Panmure, Auckland, turns up in his SUV.

He’s got plans for the best bit of real estate: a seven-storey entertainment facility — tourism, jobs, cash-flow, pineapple paninis, and the most expensive soya decaf latte this side of Queenstown.

Some of the locals — half of them anyway — don’t think much of this idea, and mobilise to stop it.

The amazing thing about Wheeler’s Luck, which opened at the Playhouse last night, is that a whole townful of people (some of them long dead) are played by only two actors, Nigel Collins and Toby Leach, and with such faultless dexterity and timing that there’s never a second’s confusion about who is meant to be who.

My favourite characters were the oily and greedy property developer Richard Lush, one-time pole vaulter Mrs Cilla Black, now employed by the council and occupied in making cups of the more genteel sorts of tea, and her daughter, Trish, consumed by the ambition to taste the cosmopolitan delights of Hamilton.

With no scenery or props except a brass bell, and aided by excellent lighting and sound, the two versatile, athletic actors produce an astonishing number of effects.

They dance, they fight, they rescue people from a shipwreck, they ride horses, and they even manage to impersonate fax and poker machines.

Blending elements of Dylan Thomas, the Goons, and Footrot Flats, Wheeler’s Luck is the funniest thing I’ve seen for a long time, and the near-capacity audience shook with helpless laughter for much of the performance.

If you manage to catch the play before it closes on Saturday, your luck will be in too.


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