Who wants to be 100 ? (Anyone Who’s 99)

Court One, Christchurch

25/08/2007 - 13/08/2007

Production Details

Roger Hall teaches some old dogs new tricks in his riotous new comedy.

Meet the ‘inmates’ of the Regina Rest Home, redefining the term ‘Grumpy Old Men’. Restless, irrepressible and determined to enjoy their twilight years, join their crusade declaring war on illness, old age and everything else in a hilarious new play from one of New Zealand ‘s best loved playwrights.

Roger Hall further cements his reputation for unforgettable characters and legendary one-liners, turning his sharp satirical pen on everyone’s secret fear – being shipped off to the old folk’s home.

With the same comic genius behind the hugely popular Taking Off, Middle Age Spread and Take a Chance on Me, Hall adds Who Wants to be 100? to his list of classic Kiwi comedies.

For more information or to book, phone the Box Office on 963-0870 or book online.

COURT 1: 25 August – 13 October 2007
Mon & Thurs 6pm; Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat 7.30pm
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (including 15 minute interval)   

Timothy Bartlett - Leo Maddox
Ken Blackburn - Alan Webster
Geoffrey Heath - Edwin Davis
David McKenzie - Charles Benson
Lynda Milligan - The Visitors
Sandra Rasmussen - The Carers 

Set Design - Harold Moot
Costume design - Beryl Hampson
Lighting Design - Geoff Nunn
Sound design - Loki Stanley

Musical Director - Luke Di Somma
Properties - Louisa Davies, Marianna Grant
Set Construction - Nigel Kerr, Maurice Kidd, Richard Daem, Richard van den Berg, Paul McCaffrey
Costume Construction - Pamela Jones, Emily Thomas,           Beryl Hampson
Production Manager - Chris O'Mahony
Stage Managers - Annabel Butler, Anna Dodgshun
Operator - Loki Stanley      

2 hrs 15 mins, incl. interval

Humour still the best medicine

Review by Lindsay Clark 28th Aug 2007

Even as the box office hots up, a new Roger Hall play inevitably triggers certain expectations. First and last there will be humour, the healthy sort where we laugh at our own circus. There will be characters whose concoction of circumstances and desires shapes the plot. Not too far beneath, there will be polite but insistent questions about the values and assumptions we recognise so easily onstage.

This production, in the capable hands of Ross Gumbley, blessed with a strong acting and creative team, delivers on all three, with particular emphasis on the interrogative bit.

Implications are there from the first glimpse of the set, a stylish affair from Harold Moot. The vast architectural plan, ripped in the middle to form access, suggests an optimistic attempt at regularity and order. This is Victoria, one of the Regina rest homes, with an inflated mission statement to match its nomenclature.

In short order and through direct address to the audience, a satirical view of the daily grind in such institutions is sketched, ready for colouring in and rich in comic possibilities. The audience is clearly positioned outside the action.

The scrutiny is carefully woven around four main characters, their assorted carers and their visitors. They are sufficiently diverse and demanding for the anticipated laughter and possibly some unanticipated questions to keep things moving nicely along. A goodly haul of attitudes and complaints is the result, mostly given the healing treatment of a chuckle, occasionally allowed to remain unanswered.

Thus the urbane retired lawyer, endowed with generous detail by Geoffrey Heath, provides not only an enjoyably dry portrait of cynical old age but sets up a crackling interface with Tim Bartlett’s cocky ex-All Black, resolutely applying altogether earthier approaches to events. Master of the throaty grunt, his frequent retelling of old jokes earned him some of the audience’s happiest attention. As with all four main characters, the pair also leaves us aware of the lonely moments when even kindly laughter has no place.

In the role of a professor emeritus of history, David McKenzie provides a different source of humour and not a little poignancy. The stroke which has left his speech so impaired has not blurred his perception and intelligence, which he shares with the audience. This degree of sensitivity is present also in the Alzheimer character presented with delicacy and all the innocence of oblivion by Ken Blackburn.

The formidable talents of Sandra Rasmussen (the carers) and Lynda Milligan (the visitors) complete the world of the play and again, provide both easy mirth and less comfortably, questions about the way old age is dealt with in our own world.

There are no pat solutions here – and not much laughter from the characters themselves, especially after the interval. For the audience however, given the luxury of time and wider horizons, the focussed humour of the play will still be the best medicine.

A trip to this production probably extends your lifetime by another five years – enough to write down a few good jokes.


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