BATS Theatre, Wellington

26/05/2015 - 30/05/2015

Production Details

Clipped wings can’t stop these women from flying high. 

Three sisters and one painful past fast catching up with them. Forced apart for ten years, the girls are now thrown together for a road trip from hell. 

WINGS sucks you smack-bang into the lives of three strong-willed and witty women who are confronting the past they thought they had swept under the rug. Multiple award winning NZ playwright Jess Sayer relishes pulling that rug out from under them – and us.

Director Tabitha Arthur says she loves Sayer’s writing as “she relishes putting people into a pressure cooker, and then adding a spoonful of this and a cup of that to see what happens. WINGS is a sharp pinch of hell with a damn good dash of fun along the way”.

After a much-praised season at the Basement Theatre in Auckland, Arthur has learnt people are very excited to hear WINGS is coming to Wellington – and hopefully further. “I announced I was directing WINGS, and almost immediately I was asked by an out-of-town theatre to bring it there as it’s a great play and they’d love to have it!”.   

Critics said of the Auckland season “New Zealand needs more plays like Wings; strong stories written by women, with strong characters for women”, and “it is frankly really good theatre”.

Touching on themes of abandonment, mental health, and vulnerability, WINGS will make your mouth guffaw, your eyes prick, and your heart melt.

WINGS plays for five performances only.

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace 
26th-30th May
at 7pm

Quinn: Victoria Seymour
Bambi: Hannah Botha
Mo: Lydia Buckley-Gorman

Playwright: Jess Sayer
Director: Tabitha Arthur
Assistant Production Manager: Hugh Philip
Lighting and sound designer: Don Blackmore
Lighting and sound operation: Hugh Philip
Set Design: Rachel Hilliar and Tabitha Arthur
Set construction, Props, Costume: Company
Production Assistant: Suzie Davidson
Publicist: Vanessa Immink
Marketing Design: Tabitha Arthur
Publicity Photography: Tabitha Arthur and Chris Williamson
Rehearsal Photography: Tabitha Arthur, Rebecca Tate, Hannah Botha  

Theatre ,

Packs a hefty punch

Review by Laurie Atkinson 28th May 2015

Wings is a car journey from a difficult present to a hellish past that must be confronted by three troubled sisters.

Quinn, Bambi and Mo are meeting for the first time in about 10 years to attend their mother’s funeral in New Plymouth. Quinn, the eldest, is relief teacher in Auckland. She is tetchy and uncommunicative. Bambi is a volatile, hippie-like vegan, whose behaviour, such as throwing a CD she doesn’t like out of the car, irritates Quinn. [More


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Absorbingly dark

Review by John Smythe 27th May 2015

The stage is strewn with 50-plus suitcases and bags. A woman sits on one in waiting mode. This leads me to assume international travel is involved and she is either in transit or awaiting an arrival. But no, she is about to embark on an intra-island road trip play.

Fair enough, I Could Live Here used the same idea – a set built from suitcases – in last year’s Fringe, except that scenario involved weeks on tour and this is about three sisters driving from Auckland to Matamata then to New Plymouth and travelling quite light.

I shouldn’t be so literal. It could be a visual metaphor for all their emotional baggage. Not that they have lots of that but what there is is big and intrusive, especially under these circumstances.

The great strength of Jess Sayer’s script, rich in character and contemporary dialogue, is that she throws up questions and makes us wait for answers, building tension in the process which allows for bursts of comic release as the whys and wherefores are drip-fed to great dramatic effect.

It is quickly established that the sisters have not seen each other for ten years and something they all need to do has brought them back together. In the awkward process of trying to re-establish their relationships, the past they ran away from – or two of them did; the other was obliged to stay – inevitably surfaces.

The oldest, Quinn (Victoria Seymour), lives in Auckland now, works as a relief teacher, seems to be rather isolated and it’s her car they travel in. Her self-contained nature begins to look like dismissive self-protection and in the end we understand why.

Quinn has just picked up Bambi (Hannah Botha), previously known as Barbara, who lives on a vegan commune but hates being called a hippie; while she won’t use products tested on animals, she does shave everything, smoke and drink, and doesn’t wear a seatbelt yet she is very judgemental. Unresolved guilt is the key to Bambi.

The Quinn / Bambi polarities – not least in their musical tastes – make for a volatile mix that kicks the action along well. The device of trying to play childhood games, to ease the tension and recover some common ground, cleverly by-passes exposition as character quirks and back stories become apparent – even more so when they are joined by the third sister, Mo (Lydia Buckley-Gorman).

Although she is the youngest and most circumspect, she gets them playing “I have never …” with some surprising results. I can’t say more about Mo except that she is the most vulnerable, her silence is as eloquent as her bursts of speech and she is dangerously innocent.

Despite the barriers to their re-bonding, director Tabitha Arthur has ensured the underlying sense of sisterhood is strong. What with an ultra-religious mother and Quinn’s father leaving then the father of Barbara (now Bambi) and Mo bringing them up on the farm until he too left, it’s no wonder the girls were close as kids. Which does raise the question of why they didn’t keep in touch and care more for each other.

But most of the time, when you think back through what has emerged in the play, satisfactory answers can be found for most of the questions. Wings sees the world very much through the eyes of women, albeit inhabited and inhibited by childhood experiences, and it is all the more refreshing for that.

Don Blackmore’s lighting and sound designs, deftly operated by Hugh Philip, bring subtle texture to the trip.

Why Wings? It’s the name of their mother’s pet morepork: a bird of portent. And it names an absorbingly dark play about how flight from unresolved realities, keeping secrets and failing to communicate can lead to very bad things happening.

Jess Sayer is definitely a playwright to watch and this creative team is doing her proud. And how splendid that this play is getting a second production (having premiered in Auckland). That doesn’t happen enough.


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