Meaty Drama, Sweet Musical [by James Wenley]
Tusk Tusk is a serious family drama, with lots to chew upon. ATC’s Associate Director Lynne Cardy describes it as ‘Arthur Miller for children’. Carried by a stunning performance from its three young leads, they must fend for themselves with absent authority figures.
Checkout Chicks is an unapologetically silly and entertaining Musical. It contains guns made out of Kumara.
One is a new kiwi Musical. The other is an international drama from an award-winning playwright. You’d be hard matched to find two such disparate works.
Next Big Thing is the next evolution of Auckland Theatre Company’s youth wing (a platform for actors and crew 15-25), which started with 2007’s Open Call Shrew’d production.Three years of Wellington import Young and Hungry Festival followed in 2009-2011. For the ecology of Auckland Theatre, it’s a commitment that is really proving dividends. Across the road at the Herald Theatre, positively potent Black Confetti by Eli Kent (himself moving up from Thinning in 2010’s Young & Hungry) features performances by Julia Croft (Open Call 07) and Virginia Frankovich (Young & Hungry 10+11).
Fancy a Puck? [by James Wenley]
At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, hobgoblin Puck famously excuses all that has gone before as a “weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream”. If so, it was a fantastic and crazy dream that the audience collectively dreamed in the theatre. While Puck undersells the thematic depths of the play, Auckland Theatre’s Company’s fast and furious streamlined show (no interval!) emphasises the fun and farce of love gone very, very wrong.
Midsummer Night’s Dream, though taking inspiration from several sources, is credited as being Shakespeare’s only original plot. It’s one of his most popular too – a comic plot that sees a love quadrangle of miss-matched Athenian youths Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius enter the woods, which also contains a group of amateur actors rehearsing a play for the wedding of Duke Theseus (Peter Daube) to his exotic bride Hippolyta (Goretti Chadwick), as well as being the home of mischievous fairies, reigned over by feuding lovers King Oberon (Xavier Horan) and Queen Titania (Alison Bruce).
I wish my own dreams looked like this. An almost unbearably bright red raked stage looks out at us, a fittingly unbalanced playing space which at various times the actors climb, slide and leap off. No subtly here then – the red of fervent passion and desire dominates. The gloriously styled black and white fashions of the four lovers – including Brooke Williams’ Hermia school girl burlesque chic topped with an upside-down cupcake tutu, and Josh McKenzie’s wrapped in a foppishly large bow tie and ankle high socks, take a bow designer Nic Smillie – gets considerably skimpier the longer the play goes on. Goretti Chadwick’s Hippolyta, going against received interpretation, is rather into her Theseus. And there are enough bare-chested men to rival the wolf pack of the Twilight films.