Who Wants To Be 100? (Anyone Who’s 99)
15/02/2008 - 15/03/2008
The Fortune Theatre is delighted to introduce a hot 2008 lineup with the latest comedy triumph from prolific award winning playwright Roger Hall – Who Wants to Be 100? (Anyone Who’s 99).
Following in the tradition of ‘Spreading Out’, and ‘Middle Age Spread’, this is gilt edged Roger Hall!
This time his satiric pen focuses on four aging gentlemen: A potter, a Q.C, an ex All-Black and a retired university professor getting up to no good in the Regina Rest Home. The dialogue is witty and colloquial holding up a mirror to our selves as New Zealanders and in particular, the rascally baby boomers all done with the typical Hall wit that we have come to love. Come on the uproarious journey as they battle against wives, old age, offspring, and catering. And heed the warning – be nice to your kids because they choose your rest home!
Roger Hall is New Zealand’s best known and most commercially successful dramatist. Almost all of his plays have been staged in Dunedin at The Fortune. Among his many successful plays are: Glide Time, Middle Age Spread. Hot Water, The Share Club, After the Crash, Conjugal Rites, By Degrees, Social Climbers, Market Forces, Take a Chance on Me and Taking Off. He wrote the scripts for the successful musicals Footrot Flats and Love off the Shelf. Roger Hall is known for his cheeky pantomimes Cinderella, and most recently at the Fortune, Aladdin.
The cast of ‘Who Wants To Be 100?’ features the return of well-known New Zealand actor (and character voice) Patrick Wilson playing ex- All Black Leo. Paddy trained at the Actor’s Institute and Academy Drama School in London and has had a busy career on stage and screen in New Zealand. On T.V. we have seen him on: Shortland Street, Orange Roughies, Power Rangers, Mercy Peak, Spin Doctors, Jackson’s Wharf, Street Legal, Hercules, Xena, and Letter to Blanchey. His film credits include the incredibly well received Broken English, Channeling Baby, Savage Honeymoon, Crooked Earth and Feathers of Peace. On stage: Auckland Theatre Company’s Twelve Angry Men, Wellington’s Downstage in Arsenic and Old Lace, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Glengarry Glen Ross. Fortune audiences will remember him from Spreading Out and Hitchcock Blonde. Paddy is a big entertaining character.
Playing the potter Alan is our very own Dougal Stevenson. His velvety voice is in our psyches already from his longstanding role as national newsreader on the telly and more recently, Chanel Nine and the National Radio where he has his own broadcast about the south. His previous stage appearances at the Fortune include: Educating Rita, Shop Till You Drop, Take a Chance on Me, and the Wind in the Willows.
Dunedin actor and playwright, Simon O’Connor plays the Q.C Edwin and will be remembered for his recent starring roles in Spreading Out as Iago in Othello, Claudius in Hamlet and as Ken in the world premiere of Home Land. Simon’s other previous Fortune appearances include the 1977 productions of Macbeth and Equus, The Lover and Silence, Shotgun Wedding, Bent, Romeo and Juliet, After the Crash, Crystal Clear, and Horseplay.
David McKenzie made his Fortune debut last year in the hilarious comedy musical, Mum’s Choir. A veteran performer of 40 years, David began his professional career in England and returned to New Zealand in 1971 where he has consistently worked at most of the country’s theatres. A foundation member of Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North in 1974, David appeared in the premiere production of Mum’s Choir in 2004 for Centrepoint’s 30th birthday.
His credits include various radio plays, films, commercials, and television appearances. David appeared in The Court Theatre’s production of Who Wants to be 100? and we are delighted to have him back in the role of the professor, Charles.
All the women in the men’s lives are played by two performers. The Fortune is delighted to welcome to the Dunedin stage Lyndee-Jane Rutherford in the role of the carers. Lyndee-Jane Rutherford is an actor and award winning theatre director. A graduate of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School she has performed in over 30 theatre productions throughout New Zealand, including Troy the Musical, Fat Pig, The Vagina Monologues and In Flame, for which she received a nomination for Actress of the Year at the 2003 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Lyndee-Jane is a familiar face on TV having been core cast of the comedy series Skitz, The Semisis, the TV2 kids show WNTV and most recently TV One’s acclaimed drama series The Hothouse. Last year Lyndee-Jane was awarded Best New Director at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for her production of Duncan Sarkies’ Lovepuke and was nominated this year for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The Hollow Men.
We welcome back Auckland-based actress, Darien Takle, who was seen at the Fortune in the early 1980s with her touring shows Darien Takle Sings Brecht and the Music of Kurt Weill and Les Chants Elysees. She has played the lead in head lining musicals including; Edith Piaf in Piaf, Eva Peron in Evita, Maria in The Sound of Music and many more. This talented and versatile actress was one of the first graduates of the NZ Drama School and has worked as a performer in New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain for more than thirty years. Her television appearances include Xena (as Cyrene), Shortland Street (as Babs Albright), Mercy Peak (as Caroline), Gone Up North for a While and Twelve Bar Rhythm and Shoes that singing dancing extravaganza. On the big screen she has been seen in the acclaimed Heavenly Creatures, The Ugly, Bread and Roses and The Lost Tribe. Not only has she done all that but she also has a diploma in fine arts from Auckland University, writes and directs plays, (most recently Roger Hall’s Taking Off at Centrepoint Theatre) and short films, has taught at drama schools in New Zealand and Australia and has a C.D out, No Regrets that is available at Marbecks. My stars! What a lady.
This wonderful cast is under the direction of Janice Finn, whose talented eye made Roger Hall’s ‘Spreading Out’ and ‘Cinderella’ both knock out shows and is hand picked by Roger Hall to direct ‘Who Wants to be 100?’
The set for Who Wants to be 100? will be designed by the award winning set designer and Fortune’s Head of Design, Peter King. And the costumes by the company’s Wardrobe Mistress, Maryanne Wright-Smyth whose creations have graced stage and screen.
TOURING SHOW 2008
‘Who Wants To Be 100?’ by Roger Hall is our touring show of 2008: From March 18 to March 30 we will be on the road to Lawrence, Gore, Tapanui, Invercargill, Alexandra, Wanaka, Arrowtown, Ranfurly, Oamaru.
Patrick Wilson : Leo, ex All Black
Simon O'Connor: Edwin, lawyer
Dougal Stevenson: Alan, potter
David McKenzie: Charles, professor
Darien Takle: The visitors
Lyndee-Jane Rutherford: The Carers
The audience was laughing
Review by Terry MacTavish 24th Feb 2008
I daresay many baby-boomers have been dreading the inevitable moment when that writer, whose plays have remorselessly recorded their rites of passage, would decide the time had come for the horrors of the Rest Home. Roger Hall’s mirror this time reveals the unlovely wrinkled lives of four elderly men in ‘care’.
Four fine actors form a tight unit with Simon O’Connor as lawyer Edwin, Patrick Wilson as ex-All Black Leo, Dougal Stevenson as randy potter Alan, and David McKenzie as history professor Charles, while the roles of all the women relatives and caregivers are energetically taken by Darien Takle and Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.
Director Janice Finn has drawn from her cast a remarkably homogenous Hall-style of performance. Nevertheless each is an accomplished and sensitive actor in his or her own right, striving to bring authenticity to characters that in lesser hands could seem blatantly stereotypical. The longer scenes serve them best, and the ghastly organised games (snakes and ladders, balloon volleyball) provide scope for real hilarity, especially with a desperately competitive All Black in a walking frame…
The set, four beds on a platform upstage, a few chairs downstage representing the lounge, is functional; that is, quite uninteresting but allowing for quick movement from scene to scene, aided by Alan Surgener’s subtle lighting. Costuming is similarly practical, with well-observed details like the garishly inappropriate track pants produced when Leo, dressed up for his daughter’s visit, has a humiliating loss of bowel control.
We are introduced to Regina Rest Home by Tackle as Manageress, cheerfully counting out the one in ten in the audience who will end up in a nursing home. The style of the play is distinctly Brechtian, with the actors functioning as narrators as well as characters, addressing the audience directly. This works best in the case of stroke victim Charles, who is able to stroll downstage to articulate his passion for classical music, then invite us to watch what happens when, sagging in his chair, he struggles to ask for a headset. There follows a hideous scene which ends with his being forcibly doped for his ‘headache’.
This Verfremdungs Effekt, while serving the comedy well, does keep us at a certain emotional distance. The short scenes too tend to prevent involvement and create a sense of the script lurching from joke to joke. The indignity of failing bodily functions may well be less than the indignity of frantic scrabbling after laughs.
Many women, moreover, particularly those who work in the care of the aged, may be deeply offended by the way the carers in the play are portrayed as unfeeling, violently abusive, or just plain stupid. With the proliferation of nursing-homes there is certainly scope for writing that takes the lives of these women seriously. Still Hall undeniably writes with great sympathy and good humour of the plight of men in these institutions, and heaven knows they need a witty advocate.
Dunedin has experienced some truly illuminating theatre on the tragedy of helpless old age in recent time: Home and The Road to Mecca at the Globe, and at the Fortune Mum’s Choir and, still vivid in memory, Gary Henderson’s wonderful Homeland.
D. H. Lawrence wrote that old age ought to be beautiful: "full of the peace that comes of experience and wrinkled ripe fulfilment." Sadly, all too often it is not beautiful at all, but theatre exists to help us face the inevitable. There is probably room for a play that uses laughter and the odd vulgarity to keep the fear and disgust at bay. And indeed the audience was laughing.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
roger hall February 24th, 2008I thought even the most ardent of feminists had got over the women-must-be-portrayed-in-a-good-light school of criticism. To suggest that I haven’t taken the role of the carers seriously is a patronising (?matronising) and insulting criticism. Debbie may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but she is a good nurse because she treats her patients with care, sympathy and affection. Yes, there is a carer who abuses the patients, but whatever the industry may claim, there is no doubt such nurses exist. One of the points I was trying to make is that if people doing such hard and important work get paid such low wages, then in many case these are the sort of people you get. (And by the way I have had several people in the industry saying this is the sort of thing that needs to be said.) I note that Terry McTavish doesn’t bother to mention the other women characters in the play who are there to show the misery and guilt of those who have to put loved ones into nursing care. As for the indignities that befall the male patients, the intention was that while there are laughs along the way, when the indignities do come, it is not meant to be funny but tragic. RH