By David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers, Kimberley Akimbo, A Devil Inside), directed by Tanya Piejus (The Diary of Anne Frank, Cold Comfort Farm)
Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner
It's been 8 months since Becca and Howie's 4-year-old son Danny ran out into the road after his dog and was hit by a car. Their grief is still pronounced as they struggle to get back to normality, but they're grieving in very different, and incompatible, ways. Then Becca's wayward sister Izzy announces she's pregnant.
Starring this year's Wellington V48 Hours Best Actress award winner, Rebecca Parker, Rabbit Hole is a beautifully observed, witty but empathetic play that draws from the reservoir of feelings common to anyone who has experienced the landscape-shifting vacuum left by a death in the family.
- Becca - Rebecca Parker (Sammy, Silly Cow, Jane Eyre)
- Howie - Joel Allen (The Gondoliers, Monkey's Uncle)
- Izzy - Emma Draper (The Love of Your Life, A Midsummer Night's Dream)
- Nat - Jade Valour (Hook, Line and Sinker, I Am A Camera)
- Jason - Connor Slattery (Tell Tale Tit, Paradise Cafe)
"A startling, heartfelt and potent play. Rabbit Hole is a remarkable, affecting redirection of Lindsay-Abaire's considerable talent." Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press
"A satisfyingly strange mix: a wrenching look into grief and healing, leavened with generous spoonfuls of humor. You feel vaguely guilty for laughing, even as your laughter relieves you. Lindsay-Abaire weaves a cloth of one strand light, two strands dark, then back and forth, and no fiber is cheap or synthetic. He offers no easy answers. This is one smart play." Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Enquirer
By Neil LaBute (In The Company of Men, The Mercy Seat, Fat Pig), directed by Pinky Agnew
Meet Edward Carr, adoring father, successful businessman, grieving widower, chain smoker.
Under Agnew's direction, Todd Rippon (Avatar, King Kong, Shortland Street) portrays Carr as a likeable Kiwi
businessman, reminiscing as he prepares his wife's eulogy. With humour and honesty, he draws us into his life story, describing his passionate marriage to his beautiful, older wife Mary Jo, whose coffin sits in mute
Like LaBute's other plays, Wrecks comes with a twist. By the time we understand how Edward has pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable in achieving his heart's desire, it's too late - we're already under his
spell - just like Mary Jo was.
'Wrecks is bound to be identified by its shock value. But it must also be cherished for the moment-by-moment pleasure of its masterly portraiture. There is not an extraneous syllable in LaBute's enormously moving love story.'
Linda Winer, Newsday
Take the same ingredients: mother and child, a struggle for independence, a sense of loss, add a dash of guilt, mix well and divide evenly into three children's bedrooms. This is the essence of Mother Love, a trio of plays written by Mary Coffey exploring the intense nature of mother/child relationships.
What happens when the child that was expected is not the one that comes? Umbilical is the story of a mother (Raquel Sims) who mourns the child that she has lost and the story of the daughter (Bethany Miller) that
she has. Told from two perspectives, Umbilical is a thought-provoking exploration of the unique bond that fuses together mother and child, a bond that can be cut but never broken.
In contrast, Apron Strings deals with the relationship between 45 year old Timothy (Simon Boyes) and his elderly mother (Felicity Cozens). Encouraged by his new 'friend', Rachel, Timothy has finally plucked up enough courage to move out from under his mother's roof but how far is mother willing to go to ensure he never escapes from under her thumb? A black comedy, Apron Strings will make you laugh until you realize Timothy's predicament is not all that funny!
The final piece, Nightlight, is a powerful drama depicting the relationship between Melanie (Gabrielle Stewart) and her mother (Deanne Graham). Guilt, grief and ghosts are confronted in this moving and sensitive story of what happens when a little girl goes out into a big world and a mother is too far away to come when she calls.
Mother Love began with the short piece Night Light - written and performed in the final year of my Theatre and Film degree at Victoria University. It was inspired by a number of events: The Ben Smart and Olivia Hope story; a documentary about a father who travelled to India in an attempt to discover what had happened to his missing daughter. Eventually he uncovered her murder and ultimately her body buried under her killer's house in a remote village. A third incident was of a more personal nature. My flat mate at the time had to identify the body and personal belongings of an Irish friend who had been travelling through Australia and died in a drowning accident. All these events made their way, sometimes consciously , sometimes unconsciously, into Night Light. A daughter grows up and heads out into the big world and in the face of tragedy a mother comes to terms with the fact that she can’t always be there to guide and protect. What must it be like for a parent when a child goes missing - the waiting, not knowing, needing to know but perhaps at the same time holding on to the slim chance that while there was no news there was still hope.
Later I thought what would happen if I took the same elements, a child’s bedroom for the setting, mother and child as the characters and themes centered around loss, a struggle for independence, and grief, adding death and a ghost to the mixture for good measure. I wrote Apron Strings which evolved into a black comedy about a son coming to terms with the tragedy of not being able to lose his mother! In performance it provided a nice contrast to the more serious and sensitive Night Light when it was performed alongside Nightlight as part of The 1999 Fringe Festival at Bats. It has taken another ten years to complete the task of turning the duo into a trio with the addition of the newly penned Umbilical. Of the three pieces, Umbilical was the most difficult to write. Originally I wanted to show the journey of a Mother who felt she could no longer cope with the needs of her severely autistic daughter and after the pressure became too much, she kills her. However, there was a much more interesting and poignant story. It just took me ten years to find it! I began to realise that what I was planning on presenting was only one part of the story. What about the daughter? Her story needed to be told too. Research led me to some amazing blogs written by autistic people. An insight into another kind of mind, a mind that thinks and feels and sees in a way that is different. Umbilical is one story but with two perspectives. No judgment , no comment, no politics. I’m now thinking perhaps I have a quartet in me...
Up the Duff, by Ingrid Berry and Sally Richards, directed by David Austin
A collection of true stories from the 50s to now. A girl finds herself 'in trouble', 'up the duff', 'with a bun in the oven', 'fallen'. What would you do if the stick stripe turned blue and you became 'one of the statistics'? Today we have WINZ Waiting Womb, but in the 50s there was just one option – adoption. And, if certain people had their way, it might be the same again today.
Up the Duff is a solo show that takes a satirical look at the stigmas attached to teenage pregnancy and adoption, and the 'moral danger' of both fertility and infertility in the 1950s and today. Actor Ingrid Berry juggles 12 roles that document the lives of solo mothers, past and present.
The play was first staged during the Fringe 2007 and this return season, as part of a double bill, will showcase Ingrid Berry's versatility to a wider audience in a more 'theatrical' venue. Berry has appeared in 52 Flavours, The Corset Stays, The Comedy of
Errors and, most recently, Puss in Boots.
Geeks Bearing Gifts, by Sam Fisher, directed by Ingrid Sage, assisted by Matthew Hodgman
Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat
But what the hell's this scruffy geek doing in his shabby flat?
And how come his lady-friend doesn't seem to mind? Isn't the dress he wears when not at work is just as good as hers? You may well ask! But then that's playwright Sam Fisher for you. Fisher is known for original and off-the-wall scripts and this one is no exception! There are lots of laughs and just a touch of... hmmmm!?! Two talented actors reveal the twists of the very clever plot. Elizabeth Marshall (Charlotte) was last seen in the Fringe offering Lovers of Central Park and Alex Ness who plays Gibson was last seen in Backyard's Monkey's Uncle.
by David Lewis
Backyard Productions was excited to have secured the rights to present the New Zealand Premiere of David Lewis’ latest comedy, 'Monkey’s Uncle', which had its world premiere only last year in the UK. 'Monkey’s Uncle' works on the principle that the life of the famous French farceur Georges Feydeau was so farcical in its own right that it would make a brilliant basis for, well, a farce. And this is exactly what Lewis has written.
'Monkey’s Uncle' examines the mayhem caused when our animal instincts come into conflict with our civilised veneers. It is a post-modern homage to Feydeau, the master of multiple exits and entrances, mistaken identities and fumbled encounters in hotel rooms. Feydeau struggles to write a new play while grappling with the increasingly complex goings-on between his wife, mistress, friends and servants. Love notes fall into the wrong hands, intentions are misinterpreted and events spiral rapidly towards a disastrous liaison at the Hotel Terminus.
In the final act things are given a very different spin. While retaining Feydeau’s familiar home-hotel-home narrative structure, the action leaps forwards to the 21st century where George, a playwright is writing a farce based on Feydeau’s life. In this final segment all the characters return in contemporary guises.
Troubled marriages, rampant affairs, professional jealousy and an organ grinder’s monkey are just some of the ingredients of this very clever play from the author of ‘Misconceptions’ – critically acclaimed NZ Premier also presented by Backyard Productions in 2005.
Director Rodney Bane, who also directed ‘Misconceptions’, gathered together an experienced cast to present this frenetically funny play. Joel Allen played the writer Feydeau. Nicola Pauling was his harassed and put-upon wife Marianne. Mark Harris took the role of Dr Didier, friend and confidant, while Meredith Dooley played the love interest of both men, and the wife of the bumbling Inspector Habillot, played by Alex Ness. Rounding off the ensemble were Andrew Waterson as the up-and-coming writer Louis Lavasseur and Carol Reed who played the 'maid' Yvette.
Like all farces, 'Monkey’s Uncle' has its fair share of lost clothes, mistaken identities and a great many entrances and exits! However, there are unexpected twists, turns and surprises all the way to the final curtain.
Love Letters by A R Gurney
Melissa Gardner and Andrew M. Ladd III are children of well-off families who grow up together, drift apart to go to different
schools, get married (to other people) and variously experience military service, artistic ambitions and political life, while
always staying in touch by letter.
Love Letters, by A R Gurney, is just what it says. As the letters are read aloud, what is created are touching, evocative,
frequently funny, but always revealing, character studies.
Love Letters was performed by Mary Coffey, Simon Boyes, Katrina Baylis and Leslie Craven at the Gryphon Theatre, 22
Ghuznee Street, Wellington from 5 - 8 October at 8pm.
Gryphon Theatre - 13th to 23rd July
By David Lewis and directed by Rodney Bane
Strange images on the fax?
A dead Okapi in Copenhagen zoo??
Abused blackberries from the freezer???
And Ratty from The Wind in the Willows????
And who the @* is Zoe?????
Does she really have wings??????
For the answers see "Misconceptions" – David Lewis' virtuoso comedy, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, straight-talking and surreal.
Matthew and Linda are the perfect professional couple: successful, prosperous and happy with their lives together. Now the biological clock is ticking away, and after years of failure, they decide to enlist the help of Matthews' friend Barry.
All together the three persevere with their do-it-yourself fertility clinic, and though the results are still negative, they remain hopeful, until one night events take a totally unexpected turn.
A play about the games we play and why we play them. It explores the topical issues of fertility, our biological place in the world, the way we live our lives today and reveals a very novel use for frozen summer fruits!
Contained some strong language and played at the Gryphon Theatre 13-23 July
Starred: Katrina Baylis, Simon Boyes, Darren Stubbersfield and Anna O'Brien.
by Harold Pinter. On stage 11th - 28th May 2005
Pinter and the Prisoners of Englishness
by Harold Pinter
A Backyard Theatre Production
Played at the Gryphon, 22 Ghuznee Street
11-28 May 2005
February 2005, Pinter announced that, after 29 stage plays, he wasn't
writing any more, preferring to channel his energies into other activities,
particularly poetry and politics. He said he was incensed by the betrayal
of the people by the Labour Party and stated it as his mission to get
rid of Tony Blair.
his retirement from writing for theatre, could this production be seen,
then, as part of a retrospective?
could", says Julia Harris, who played Emma, "if the subject and
the characters were in any way dated, but they're not. They ring as true
in 2005 as they did in 1978. People don't fundamentally change, and Pinter
was writing about the fundamentals of human nature."
Peleton, who played cuckolded husband Robert, agrees. "I think if
you were going to have a retrospective, you'd have to put Betrayal in
there. It's not as surreal as some of his earlier plays, but it's still
concerned with the same issues - class, social conformity, role playing.
To me these characters are constantly trying to redefine their roles and
relationships. They're desperate to find affection and safety, but in
that very brittle English way.
Betrayal first appeared in 1978, it received some of the harshest reviews
in theatrical history. Some critics saw Peter Hall's production as a shameless
throwback to an era when the drama preferred to concern itself with adulterous
husbands, "other" women, and interminably eternal triangles.
Yet a revival in 1998, by Trevor Nunn to popular acclaim, showed that
the script is as up to date as ever.
marriage to book publisher Robert, which had survived seven years of adultery,
is now finally crumbling. At risk, also, is the friendship between Robert
and Jerry, Emma's lover.
this poignant starting point, Harold Pinter's award-winning play travels
back in time, visiting pivotal points in the relationships between these
three characters. We stop where the story actually begins—at a party,
with a kiss. Who betrays whom, and how, is the essence of the play, told
in Pinter's sparse yet eloquent style, and replete with his iconic pauses.
and wife Mark and Julia Harris and colleague Phil Peleton were no strangers
to the Wellington stage or to each other. They had all worked together
as actors and singly as directors. They brought their experience together
directing each other's performances as a collaborative venture.
Mark Harris: "it's been a very interesting and stimulating process.
We started rehearsals sitting and talking, rather than blocking. We shared
a common understanding of the characters and the subtext of the piece
before we moved onto the stage in earnest. So, the direction is seamless.
I can't even tell who managed which bits now. I've directed Julia before,
and we've both acted with Phil, but now we're all working so closely it's
very exciting. There's a level of trust that belies the subject matter
of the play."
Harris has also picked up the design duties, for set, lights and sound.
"I wanted to not do a movie set. Stage is not screen, and we need
to celebrate what is different. While the show is real, it's not super-realistic
in setting or style. We looked for an eternal approach that would support
the script without getting in the way of the performance. It's minimalist
and stylistic, working from the black box style, and allows quick and
easy transitions between scenes."
production of Betrayal opened on 11 May 2005 at the Gryphon Theatre, 22
Ghuznee St. and ran until 28 May.
Pip O'Connell, Brianne Kerr, Sophie Dingemans and Kelly Kilgour.
tale of a café, its workers and the relationships they form when
trying to kill each other. Set
a year after the first Demented outing, the café had changed hands
and the anal waitress from hell, Janaia, was now in charge. Old boss Tamsin
was back from "hospital" and couldn't understand why no-one would let
her near the knives, Peter the grumpy ass chef was . . . grumpy and Em
the Greenpeace activist had aspirations to stardom !
in May in a real Wellington café, (Real Earth Organic Cafe), Café
Dement gave an insightful look into café culture and the people
that existed within it.
play by Sam Fisher and Pip O'Connell. Directed by Rodney Bane.
for this play in the upcoming Fringe Festival, after this season playing
to Comedy Festival audiences.