SCENE BY JAMES: 2018 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 31, 2018
[Representation Matters] Silo Theatre’s production of Mr Burns presented a vision of theatrical futures. In the play by American writer Anne Washburn, survivors of an electricity-ending event band together to form a travelling theatre troupe specialising in the recreation of classic The Simpsons episodes. I begin with Mr Burns here because, while it presents a bleak image for our planet, […]

REVIEW: Shortland Street – The Musical (Auckland Theatre Company)

December 1, 2018
[Make No Bones About It] The question of whether the result of Shortland Street the television series can be considered successful need only be measured by one fact: 26 years. But with new mediums come new risks. For every The Lion King and The Producers stage musical adaptation there is a Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and The Fly. Fortunately, Shortland […]

Six Degrees of Gender Separation: The Problems with Auckland Theatre Company’s 2018-2019 Programme

October 29, 2018
[Where are the Women at the Waterfront?] During the uproar over the Pop-up Globe’s decision to use an all-male cast while invoking #MeToo in their promotion, Auckland Theatre Company did a Facebook post “Celebrating the amazing women of our 2017-2018 season!” ATC name checked their lead actors – “phenomenal matriarchs of the stage” – Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Alison Bruce and Jennifer […]

REVIEW: Rendered (Auckland Theatre Company)

September 26, 2018
[Trapped in a World of Opposites] The great 13th century Persian and Muslim poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī said: ‘Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there’. While there is some dispute about the accuracy of these translated words, the sentiment nevertheless expresses the Sufi desire to transcend binaries, to move […]

REVIEW: Filthy Business (Auckland Theatre Company)

August 28, 2018
[Business Smarts Required] It’s East London, 1968, and against all the odds, Jewish entrepreneur and matriarch, Yetta Solomon (Jennifer Ludlam) has built a thriving rubber business. A lavish set vivifies the business’s premises and shop – its worn bricks and mortar seemingly impregnated with the East End’s spirit of elbow grease and hustle, while offcuts of rubber and derivative belts, cushions, […]

REVIEW: The Cherry Orchard (Auckland Theatre Company)

June 16, 2018
[Mana Whenua] Chekhov’s final play finds itself uprooted from both its Russian origins and its familiar place within the Western theatrical canon in ATC’s latest production of The Cherry Orchard. It has been replanted, by several strokes of genius, in 1970’s Aotearoa – a New Zealand experiencing the death of the old new world, and the birth of a recogniseable […]

REVIEW: Mrs Warren’s Profession (Auckland Theatre Company)

May 10, 2018
[Working Title] Mrs Warren’s Profession was way ahead of his time – written by George Bernard Shaw in 1893, it was initially banned for the stage, and didn’t debut until nine years later. In Auckland Theatre Company’s production, a stellar cast (headlined by Jennifer Ward-Lealand) and talented creatives (led by Director Eleanor Bishop, known for deconstructing classic dramatic texts) promised […]

REVIEW: Here & Now 2018: Tender, You First & Alice (Auckland Theatre Company)

April 21, 2018
[All-Stars] Is the original Shrek (2001) film the ideal model of romance for our times? That’s the theory espoused by Murdoch Keane in Tender, the first of three plays in ATC’s Here & Now Festival playing until Monday. Shrek doesn’t go out looking for love. As an Ogre, it’s not something he ever thought he’d find, never thought he’d be […]

REVIEW: Still Life with Chickens (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 17, 2018
[Fowl Play] Stories don’t get much simpler than this: Mama, a lonely housewife, befriends a stray chicken. That’s it. Simple, yes, but it’s with this understated simplicity that D.F. Mamea’s Still Life with Chickens catches you off-guard. Maybe it’s John Parker’s idyllic backyard set or Goretti Chadwick’s warm and generous performance or Helen Fuller’s puppet chicken (puppeteered by Hannz Fa’avae-Jackson). […]
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