REVIEW: Anzac Eve (Armstrong Creative)

Review by Tim George

by Dave Armstrong

[Turkish Delight]

Written by Dave Armstrong, Anzac Cove is a dramedy that puts our mutual emphasis on Anzac Day under the microscope.

Four young people, two Kiwis and two Aussies, arrive at Anzac Cove for the annual commemorations.

Maia (Trae Te Wiki) and Lizzie (Ruby Hansen) are longtime friends; Ben (Barnaby Olson) and Phil (Hayden Frost) used to go to the same high school and just happen to meet at the cove. Hemmed in all sides by a crowd of fellow tourists, this foursome are forced to make nice.

As the evening progresses, their divergent views on the significance of the event soon lead each of the characters to reveal more personal truths…

Directed by Jamie McCaskill, Anzac Eve is a tight latter chamber-piece that moves at a clip. Considering the set is a large mat in the middle of the stage, and the characters rarely move from said mat, it is an accomplishment that the action never drags.

The cast are a large part of the reason for the play’s success. The ensemble are such a tight unit, it is hard to pick out a standout. Olson is terrific as the supposedly worldly Ben, while Frost laces Phil’s carefree persona with the desperation of someone who really wants to be liked. He gets the biggest laughs, but he might be the most pitiable character of the group. Te Wiki plays the most down-to-earth character of the bunch, and softens the character’s sarcasm with the right touch of empathy without turning saccharine. Hansen handles the play’s heaviest character reveal with grace. It’s been done before, and Hansen manages to underplay it in a way that manages to make it genuinely affecting.

A strong mix of human drama and comedy, Anzac Eve manages to say something about Anzac Day without descending into a diadactic bore.

Anzac Eve plays at the Herald Theatre until 4th April. Details see Auckland Live

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Alistair Browning

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