Tag Archives: The Herald Theatre

Been | HIR

Entwined with the mediocrity of middle-class America, yet with confronting and combative issues of gender play, war and the reality of domestic turmoil,  ‘HIR’ is a play with layers of colour and depth, it disrupts the status-quo whilst challenging the idea of the ‘nuclear family’.

Arlo Green, plays the disillusioned son returning from duty in war-torn Afghanistan ….  His experience with an array of broken soldiers, both physically and mentally, has left him yearning for some solace, yet upon returning home and being greeted by his incredibly fractured and disjointed family, the hopeful serviceman is left defeated.

NZ Theatre stalwart, Rima Te Wiata is at her most impressive, as the disparaging, cruel and at times thoroughly spiteful, matriarch Paige.  Supported equally at best, by her formerly abusive husband, however now reduced to a mere shell of former self – Arnold (Nathaniel Lees).

Adam Rohe, completes the dysfunctional family unit as the gender-transitioning Max, a sullen and impressionable teenager burdened by the sheer tyranny of his mother who reigns over the household,  while his depleted and despondent father now just lurks, an empty being.  All three characters; Issac, Arnold and Max;  exemplify the varying state and meaning of masculinity itself , as the emasculating Paige exercises her now wilted down person and cynical viewpoint upon them all …

Nathaniel Lees character,  Arnold is played to perfection.  His presence is observed, even through his many scenes that are without dialogue.   He never loses pace; as he stares vacant into the TV screen, absently eats fried chicken in a nightgown, and in the one last scene, completely loses all dignity (and continence) after a physical and mental showdown, one that is spurred on after a revelation of home truths.

The play’s setting echoes the decor of shows that mirror the lives of the struggling white middle-class/red-neck America and those with questionable education and boredom with mundanity of everyday life.  The series, ‘Roseanne’ springs to mind, with the well-worn sofa and makeshift crocheted throws.  Right down to the tacky fish-inspired stickers on the fridge and the weathered Venetian blinds; the set is convincing with it’s purposeful lack of class and ambience.

HIR, created by Taylor Mac – a remarkable individual, in the way they themselves perceive and carry out the idea of gender and convention, is directed by the detail orientated and insightful Sophie Roberts.  It is a poignant play that reflects our modern society and pushes us to feel the angst and chaos, through broken dreams and power struggles which befall this family, in particular; the now sadly disillusioned Issac.  As theirs is a reality that is not too implausible within our modern kith & kin …

HIR- with it’s harrowing and at times, deeply dispiriting subject matter, with notes of sardonic humour throughout,  is reminiscent of a Tennesse William’s tragedy, and is just as successful at drawing in and engaging with it’s audience.  However morose and jarring the effect may be.

HIR is part of the Silo Theatre and currently showing at the Herald Theatre:

*** Until 25th August

NZICF 18 | A Bard’s Tale

The Covert Theatre presents to you – A tale of family, war & kinsman-ship,  set in the land of sweet Verona, in the dark and lowly dwellings of albeit, an ale-house ….

Or indeed anywhere the audience and mood dictates on the night, as such is the style of comedy performed in this play,  ‘A Bard’s Tale’.

A unique, unexpected and uncanny show, which runs as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2018 – A Bard’s Tale uses sparse (if any) props and a barren stage setting to establish the story-line, instead relying on dialogue and the extemporized skill of the actors, in the direction of Shakespeare and style of a medieval thespian.

On this particular evening, we are invited into an odyssey of cleaved and quartered lovers, carrots, swine and vegan feasts, such are the hilarious tangents a story-line takes when in the genre of improvisation.

Suggested incestuous liaisons between uncle and niece, pork-swords and pantaloons, vegetables being used as armaments between the dueling Lysander and slaughtered yet now returned, lover Petrio …… ???  This show is a testament to the clever and quick-witted talent of its players.

With comical and repeated references of carrots and soy substitutes as an example,  I loved how such ridiculous topic was retained throughout the play and worked into a story that stemmed from an abyss.   A story that became funnier the more it progressed, gathering momentum and leading to it’s hilarious and ultimately fatal end, with the dying Lysander declaring threats of ‘wheatgrass & tempeh’ on all of fair Verona ……

‘A Bard’s Tale’ – The greatest play that Shakespeare never wrote!

*** A Bard’s Tale is now on at The Herald Theatre                                                                                                              Tuesday 8th – 12th May

seen | Between Two Waves

“Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e,, decades to millions of years).”

TIME is the recurring theme throughout this immensely thought-provoking and well crafted play by Ian Meadows, that links the four principal characters and their own personal turmoils, to the main protagonists’ life’s work, which is to find purpose and reason amongst the extremely topical and relevant issues surrounding climate change and our impact on the environment.

Emmett Skilton,  a familiar national presence both in theatre and on-screen,  leads the superbly talented cast as Daniel,  a young, somewhat  neurotic and obsessive, yet passionate climatologist battling with his all encompassing fear for the future of our planet admist a developing world of exhaustible industrial emission, capital gain and corporate greed.

Dealing with the outcome of a recent cataclysmic event, we are introduced to Grenelle (Leanne Frisbie) a seemingly workaholic insurance claims advisor, with whom Daniel displays his frustration at the questionable underlying structure of todays profit-driven world, when his desperate attempt to reclaim a personally valuable body of work, appear to be fruitless.

Shara Connelly plays Fiona, the sassy, bold and beautiful foil to the slightly awkward and ever cautious Daniel.  Together they embark on a a romantic roller-coaster, through which the audience is shown using cleverly directed flash backs that display the all too relateable peaks and troughs that almost all relationships fall upon, and which also parallel with the plays’ main theme of climate change and the unpredictability of our environment.

Despite the plays somewhat heavy subject matter, the audience is treated to sporadic moments of light comic relief, from which director Peter Feeney who also doubles in the role of Jimmy (boss and friend to Daniel) along with the rest of the cast, help provide with sharp intellectual insights delivered with witty rapport

For me, one of the plays main strengths lie in the way the main character Daniel,  is able to engross the audience and encapture them in his figurative thoughts through extremely effective and evocative imagery.

Between Two Waves draws to its close with a T.S Elliott reference, by which the performance was also opened.  Incorporating the same profound ideas and message of the play,  but in-whole with a decidely more positive outlook on not just our relationship with the planet and the environment, but our relationship with ourselves and with those we love.

Superb acting, great set design and expertly polished directing with extremely relevant subject matter.  An experience for which I was thankful,  especially through such an entertaining medium in which to promote environmental and human awareness.

 

Monique Perera 6/08/2