Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin
06/04/2016 - 08/04/2016
“Writer/director Sam Brooks has concocted a curious piece of theatre examining the lives of young actors in their own habitat.” – Theatreview
Half drunk in a messy green room, with a show going on next door, Scotty and Brit reflect on their equally messy past. Eventually the wine is going to run out, but there’s plenty of quarter-life crises to go around.
Counterpoint are excited to announce the first show of their 2016 pop-up season – Wine Lips. After its debut last year at the Basement Theatre in Auckland, this run at Allen Hall Theatre will be the play’s South Island premiere. Artistic Director Jordan Dickson is thrilled to be directing a work by one of New Zealand’s leading young playwrights. “This is the perfect start to our 2016 season. The work is funny, poignant and terrifyingly in tune with the anxieties of young people working in the arts.”
Featuring: Katherine Kennedy and David Stock.
Brooks has achieved national acclaim in recent years, having been awarded Playmarket’s Playwrights b4 25 Award twice, in addition to 3 nominations for the Adam NZ Play Award.
Taking inspiration from the real world, Brooks writes with a specificity that encapsulates stories from his own life. However, he notes that no experience is singular – “something you think is just yours could resonate and bump up against someone else’s experience in ways you didn’t think it could.”
Wine Lips will be Counterpoint’s first collaboration with the Theatre Studies Lunchtime Theatre Programme. “It’s wonderful that we’ve been able to join forces with Theatre Studies, who have been so accommodating,” said Dickson of the partnership. “When Alex Wilson and Hadley Taylor founded the company, part of their kaupapa was to serve the young theatre community. I think this collaboration goes a long way to achieving that goal, by bringing high quality theatre to the home of many of Dunedin’s young practitioners. Hopefully this will introduce Counterpoint to a whole new crowd in 2016, and help us connect with even more collaborators for the rest of the season,” Dickson said.
Allen Hall Theatre
April 6, 7 and 8
Tickets are available from Eventfinda or on the door.
Supported by Phantom Billstickers, Radio One and the University of Otago Theatre Studies Department.
Feels like eavesdropping
Review by Jenny Gleeson 07th Apr 2016
Counterpoint’s much-anticipated 2016 season is launched with confident aplomb. Wine Lips, a winningly analytical and soul-searching play by NZ playwright Sam Brooks, starts the season off with refined punch.
The theme of the play is familiar to many and resonates well with the audience, as these quarter-lifers hit the reality of making difficult life choices – vis-à-vis careers and love – with a loud thwack. We watch how they choose to deal with and/or recover from the impact of their choices, each in a separate manner. The heart-sore repercussions of those choices ring true, and the play utilizes an adept honesty to remind us of our own real regrets.
Counterpoint is still the new kid on the Dunedin theatrical block, and with it the freshness and vigour of emerging acting and producing talent. In ‘counterpoint’ to its forced operation on a shoestring budget and surviving on passion for the art form, Counterpoint (the company) allows itself the freedom of less mainstream choices, which therefore result in refreshingly interesting play choices.
Compared with some previous productions, this particular set design is a step up in sophistication, and being a fan of things retro, I note the props as duly impressive for this still young company. Finger snaps also to the new seating in Allen Hall, by the way.
As to the performance, Katherine Kennedy plays the very gorgeous Brit, who returns for a brief visit to a past and clearly significant lover, Scotty. She is both smart and sexy and looks every inch the part of a young actress on the cusp of success. After the initial awkwardness of their reuniting, we discover that a wonderful and believable sexual tension between her and Scottie remains.
Scottie, played ably by David Stock, appears to be still very much in love with Brit but also hurt that her choice of career over him left him behind. His is a wide compass of emotions – at times convincingly glad, resentful, and angry or resigned to the fate of his decision – and he is very watchable.
Everyone adores the wonderfully colourful character Max, played by Joshua Coles-Braun. His ‘brief’ appearances are funny and his character is a nice foil of innocence and naivety as he is yet to face the dilemma that our main protagonists currently struggle with.
While each actor has a lovely range of expression, the vocal delivery is slightly blunted by lack of commitment to precision. Diction needs to be attended to, as I and others miss some of the ends of sentences; for example the spin class rant probably has more wit in it than is understood.
Katherine’s delivery could be described as a little deadpan and, combined with soft projection, for my guest it threatens to detract from feeling sympathy for the character. While it’s a fine line between deadpan and monotone, personally I feel it adds to the mystique of her character, and I am intrigued. Her facial expressions are good, possibly subtle and fleeting, but for me this makes for an interesting, unconventional heroine.
David Stock is tall, has a good stage presence and a wide stock of expressions. In order that I can trust that his character has charm, I would like him to relax and smile with more genuine warmth if the occasion warrants, so that the journey between his many complex emotions, from wistful for the past, to anger and jealousy and sexual tension, and then to resignation, travels a further distance. I fall in love with him, but would like to do it more quickly.
There are a couple of periods of silence that continue for too long, certainly towards the end when Brit and Scotty are on the couch, we need to see more happening on each of the actor’s faces or within their actions to justify such a long dialogue-free period and to convey the growing and overwhelming emotion they are feeling.
It is heartening to see so many people on opening night. Because of good numbers, but because of the problems of soft projection combined with orientation of the couch, those who sit at the front on stage right do miss some of what happens on the couch.
These, though, are minor points as generally director Jordan Dickson moves the play along at a smart pace. The dialogue is fast and modern and I feel like I am eavesdropping on a conversation rather than watching a play. The actors make good use of the space and props, so it is always interesting to watch, and the time goes very quickly.
This is an enjoyable play. I love where it is set and how it is set and I love the injections of humour. I really love the arguments – after all, who doesn’t love watching a good argument when it happens? And particularly I feel a touching sadness for the conundrum that Brit and Scotty each separately face. The cast succeeds in relating this sorrow to the audience with apt directness. I heart this company. Good choice of play. Nicely presented.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Jordan Dickson April 7th, 2016
Thanks for such a generous and considered review Jenny - Counterpoint hearts you too!