Young & Hungry Festival of New Theatre (Auckland) 2011

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

22/07/2011 - 06/08/2011

Production Details

Auckland Theatre Company, in association with the Young and Hungry Arts Trust, is thrilled to present its third season of the Festival of New Theatre at The Basement. This year’s programme features a new work by Auckland-based playwright Thomas Sainsbury, as well as two plays that premiered at BATS Theatre in previous Young and Hungry seasons.

Written by Jo Randerson
Directed by Abigail Greenwood

Somewhere in the great New Zealand countryside the imagination is stirring. Beth would like to make a cow out of leaves but everyone else is raining on her parade. Mum only likes dinner parties and Dad is crazy about cats and there are a whole lot of random people in the living room with their own ideas about creativity. Can the dream survive? COW is an absurdist black comedy about a girl, her dream, and the forces of opposition…

Written by Gary Henderson
Directed by Jackie van Beek

After the sudden death of their flatmate Alison and Russ are living in limbo. Alison spends her days sleeping and her nights getting stoned. Russ goes to the zoo and stares at the tiger. But when Simone and her boyfriend Davey join the flat, it becomes clear that wild animals lurk closer to home, and it is only a matter of time before they show their claws… Who is the most caged, and how far will they go to escape?

Written by Thomas Sainsbury
Directed by Ben Crowder

An apocalyptic zombie adventure not for the faint of heart. The continued existence of New Zealanders is under threat by a blood-thirsty mob of the undead. Limbs fly as the remaining humans fight for survival, proving the zombies aren’t the only ones with a taste for dismemberment. This riotous gore-fest offers side-splitting action – hold on to your seat and hope you make it out alive!

The Basement
Saturday, 23 July 2011 – Saturday, 6 August 2011
Book your Festival tickets now, call 09 309 3395!

LOUISA - Virginia Frankovich
GERRY - Jordan Mooney
FARMHAND – Jordan Blaikie
BETH – Alexandra Clare
MUM – Phoebe Mason
DAD – Daryl Wrightson
AMERICAN – Tarquinn Kennedy
POLICEMAN – Jesse Allam
MUTE – Chloe Swarbrick
COLLECTOR – Katrina Wesseling
ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: Jane Yonge and Katrina Wesseling
STAGE MANAGER: Natalie Braid
SET DESIGN: Jessika Verryt
SET & PROPS: Teresa Munro, Sylvia Perez, Rachel Cunningham, Webber Chen
LIGHTING: Patrick Loughran, Charlotte Taylor, Sarah Radford, Michael Forkert and Camille Rees SOUND: Elliott Stanton 
TECHNICAL OPERATORS: Camille Rees and Elliott Stanton

 – Joseph Harper
ALISON – Kayleigh Haworth
SIMONE – Rose Seton
DAVEY – Thomas Moon
ZOOKEEPER – Aman Bajaj
STAGE MANAGER: Luanne Sullivan
SET DESIGN: Jessika Verryt
SET & PROPS: Sylvia Perez, Teresa Munro, Rachel Cunningham, Webber Chen
LIGHTING DESIGN: Camille Rees, Patrick Loughran, Sarah Radford, Charlotte Taylor, Michael Forkert
SOUND DESIGN: Elliott Stanton
COSTUME DESIGN: Moana Johnson and Kate Sibley
TECHNICAL OPERATOR: Camille Rees and Elliott Stanton

HOPE – Elizabeth Harrex
EDDIE – Fia Pelesasa
PIP – Gerry Jaynes
MADELEINE – Kate Castle
FRANCIS – Caleb Wells
TRISTRAM – Christopher Bryan
JARVIS – Graham Candy
PATRICIA – Lucy Smith
NURSE RUMI – Sarah Trass
DR STEIBEL – Harriet Urlich
LEO – Alex MacDonald
MARK – Freddie Graham
DR LAWRENCE – Yulie Great
STAGE MANAGER: Jordan Keyzer
SET DESIGN: Jessika Verryt
SET & PROPS: Sylvia Perez, Teresa Munro, Rachel Cunningham, Webber Chen
LIGHTING DESIGN: Camille Rees, Charlotte Taylor, Sarah Radford, Patrick Loughran, Michael Forkert
SOUND DESIGN: Elliott Stanton
COSTUME DESIGN: Sally Bollinger, Yvonne Chang and Helen Wanyu

50mins each play

Most satisfying – don’t go hungry

Review by Candice Lewis 27th Jul 2011

If you are thirsty for some great entertainment, then look no further. If you’re wearing something special, don’t sit in the front seats! Why? You’ll have to go and find out. This is an incredible showcase of New Zealand talent, the third Auckland Theatre Company’s season of Young and Hungry.

Jo Randerson’s Cow is mesmerizing, surreal and makes social commentaries that have stood the test of time. Gary Henderson’s Tigerplay leads us into the jungle of a caged mind, and Thomas Sainsbury’s zombieiinfested Disorder follows on the established themes of acceptance, rejection, madness and the questioning the status quo.

Although ‘serious’ issues were raised in each play, there was always an element of much appreciated humour.

Cow by Jo Randerson

First up, Cow had me intrigued with the stunning set design by Jessica Verryt. Murals of New Zealand scenery, farms and landscapes cover the stage floor and rear wall. The only furniture on the stage, a couch and a chair, are also covered in this ‘wall paper’. 

The opening dance for Cow has the human actors masticating and staring out at the audience – ruminating – as they move, as if in a trance. A farming family anchors a dream like plot in which a group of unlikely guests inflict their cynicism and intellectual snobbery, thus exposing their own fears and insecurities.

Daryl Wrightson is a natural comic as the dad, a man who is mentally unwell and so obsessed with cats that he thinks he is one. Phoebe Mason portrays the mum as kind, naive and eager to please, tolerant of her husband’s illness, especially since she can now sneak some of his medication. 

The unassuming farmhand, Jordan Blaikie, is trying to win the affections of the farming daughter, Beth (Alexandra Clare). Clare’s Beth is sweet, imaginative and conducts a chorus of cows. Yes, you’ll just have to see it.

Director Abigail Greenwood obviously knows how to get the best from these talented young actors; the dialogue crackles along nicely when a quartet of strangers literally break through the living room wall and start telling Beth’s parents how things “really are”. 

Of the strangers, it is Louisa (Virginia Frankovich) and her boyfriend Gerry (Jordan Mooney) who lead with their declarations of what is appropriate or worthwhile. Their wonderfully scathing depictions are brutally enforced by the bow-legged Policeman (Jesse Allam) and continually observed by the Mute Girl (Chloe Swarbrick). The Amercian (Tarquinn Kennedy) smugly swaggers about with festering low self esteem.

These are the guests you don’t want to get stuck next to at a party; the ones who feel the need know exactly where you fit in before they spend too much time talking to you. In fact, it’s positively charitable of them to have taken time with Beth and her family at all.

When charity literally does come knocking, the Collector (Katrina Wesseling) responds with beautiful confusion to the guilt heaped upon her head.

Allam’s policeman takes the law so far to the extreme that he becomes the criminal element he despises; he’s insane with power and the need to control. This controlling and raping mentality is focused on Beth by all four ‘strangers’ who ridicule and bully her for expressing creativity purely for its own sake. They are full of fear because they have forsaken their own truth and creative energy in order to embrace a cynical mindset.

The sacred cow is on the farm, but joy and creativity are being led to slaughter. It concludes with the classic Darcy Clay song ‘Jesus I was Evil’, and my companion and I sat and sang along. 

Tigerplay by Gary Henderson

Walking upstairs into what feels like a really run down student flat in early 90s Grey Lynn, we are invited to sit where we like. The comfy couches right on the ‘stage floor’ are already taken, but later I’m kind of relieved they were. The set, as with Cow and Disorder, is done by the talented Jessica Verryt. Used tissues are strewn across the floor, the recycle bin looks like it might not ever be emptied, and the kitchen area is a rat’s dream come true.

It is quickly apparent that the young couple living here are not the happiest campers in the land. Alison (Kayleigh Haworth) sits at the kitchen table eating crappy white bread toast after spending the entire day in bed. Her boyfriend Russ (Joseph Harper) has spent his day working up manic energy at the zoo.

Harper’s agitated and awkward Russ is constantly scratching, ranting, pacing and trying to construct some meaning for his life. He is motionless when observing the tiger at the zoo, taking in the comments of Zookeeper (Aman Bajaj) without looking at him. Russ is tripping on the tiger, his gaze riveted on her caged power and ‘velvety skin’.

Russ and Alison’s new flatmate is the pretty and passive Simone (Rose Seton). She and boyfriend Davey (Thomas Moon) soon stir up the dynamics, and the tension builds as Russ continues his zoo visits. All of the actors are wonderfully cast, yet it is Haworth who steals the sho;, she is entirely in the skin of Alison and her portrayal elicits pity, revulsion and laughter in equal measure.

Director Jackie van Beek has done a great job with the physicality of this play; there are some very demanding moments in which the wrong move could result in a lot of pain for the actors.

Russ’ admiration for the caged tiger is taken to an extreme conclusion when a harrowing show-down fractures his already fragile mind. Paint is involved, so whatever you do, don’t wear cream. An invigorating and entertaining play with incredible talent; don’t miss it.

Disorder by Thomas Sainsbury

A woman (Lucy Smith) totters onto the raised stage, calling out, looking for someone. It transpires that she’s in a clinic where the appearance of youth (ha ha, she’s 25 and wants to look 16) is promised, but it has that strange Rocky Horror Picture Show feeling about it. Something is going to go horribly wrong, and we can hardly wait.

The grinning and sycophantic Nurse Rumi (Sarah Trass) twitches and jerks her way off stage; ooh goodie, we know the Zombies are coming!  

When the lights come back up, we’re at high school and my favourite scene in the whole play unfolds. We meet Jarvis (Graham Candy), Tristram (Chris Bryan) and their posturing bullies. The delivery is natural and has the audience laughing as well as cringing.

Candy illustrates Jarvis’ frustrated desire to control something in his life when he engages in the petty sexual bullying of Madeleine (Kate Castle) and her girlfriend Pip (Gerry Jaynes). All of these actors are such a joy to watch, skill and talent far outweighing their years. Francis (Caleb Wells), the brother of Pip, wears a beatific smile and uses a wheelchair; he’s peaceful and tolerant of those around him.

The mundane school setting soon gives way to the blatant and comedic horror of Zombies infecting Auckland. Charming teacher Eddie (Taofia Pelesasa) and his hot girlfriend Hope (Elizabeth Harrex) are distraught after hitting the now Zombie-fied seeker of eternal youth with their car. Smith is a wonderful Zombie, she lurches, snarls and bites; she’s dead determined to get a taste of the living. 

It can only get worse, and does, much to our delight. More disturbing than fleeing from zombies to a Papakura military base, is Jarvis’ escalating mental instability and thirst for violence. A fairly shy and socially awkward young man becomes a power-hungry tyrant wielding a knife. It brings to mind America’s Columbine massacre of 1999: two depressed young outcasts blinded with pain eventually turning their hatred outward.

There are so many amazing moments that it’s impossible to list them all, but Dan Veint’s sweating Sick Man on the bus is absolute gold; we’re certain he’s been on the coke all night and then realise, of course, he’s one of the Infected! The Princess-style waitress played by Morgan Albrecht is also a lovely light touch amidst the carnage.

Makeup, set design and costumes are fantastic, with some visceral surprises in store! Costume designers Yvonne Change and Sally Bollinger work magic – from school girl outfits to a zombie bride. I am also really impressed with the ‘invisible’ work done by the props, lighting design, sound design and operators: Syliva Perez, Michael Forkert, Pippa Neals and Patrick Loughran must have laboured long and hard and it really showed.

A most satisfying evening of theatre – don’t you go hungry.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Make a comment

Excellent duo followed by disappointing disorder

Review by Janet McAllister 27th Jul 2011

This medley of three one-hour plays, giving stage experience and mentoring to (mostly Pakeha) 16- to 25-year-olds, makes for an evening of two unequal halves.

First up are Cow – a surreal, biting comedy by Jo Randerson – and the naturalistic, heavy-hitting Tigerplay by Gary Henderson. Both are excellent, thoughtful and risk-taking productions; these types of shows are what make going to the theatre enjoyable. They contrast in style for variety, but thematically they illuminate each other in satisfying ways.

The third and only new play, Disorder, is an overlong, paint-by-numbers zombie genre piece by Thomas Sainsbury. It is as thin as a gauze bandage … [More]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council