REVIEW: Yang/Young/杨 (Auckland Theatre Company)

July 26, 2021
[More than a Youth Show] In 2019 I wrote a review which included a meme that intimated that the ATC youth shows excite me more as an audience member than much of what appears in the main programme. Now in 2021 ATC, with the support of Proudly Asian Theatre (PAT), offers Yang/Young/杨 as part of the Here and Now season […]

REVIEW: The Life of Galileo (Auckland Theatre Company)

June 29, 2021
[Use Science Wisely] The scene is 17th century Italy. Legendary astronomer Galileo Galilei is unsatisfied with what he has achieved in his life so far, and fixated on one subject in particular: the movement of the earth around the sun. Yet as Galileo tries fervently to share his discoveries with the world, it’s clear that there’s a big, black hole […]

REVIEW: Single Asian Female (Auckland Theatre Company)

May 2, 2021
[A Celebration] Written by Michelle Law and first produced by La Boite Theatre Company in Brisbane (2017), Single Asian Female has been adapted and transposed to Aotearoa for its Auckland premiere. Directed by Cassandra Tse, the play is a funny and heart-warming domestic drama that centres on the lives of three single Asian women: mother Pearl (Kat Tsz Hung) and […]

REVIEW: The Haka Party Incident (Auckland Theatre Company)

April 4, 2021
[The Last New Zealand War] There’s something about watching local history onstage — history so recent that some members of the audience sitting beside you were participants in the events portrayed. Written and directed by Katie Wolfe, The Haka Party Incident is a resonant piece of documentary theatre revisiting what its advertising calls “the last New Zealand war.” This describes the […]

REVIEW: Two Ladies (Auckland Theatre Company)

February 14, 2021
[Smartest in the Room] It was Lady Bird Johnson who said a first lady is “an unpaid public servant elected by one person, her husband.” Nancy Harris’s 2019 play Two Ladies puts the women in the shadows centrestage. Deliberately not-so-fictional, its titular ladies Hélène (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) and Sophia (Anna Jullienne) are transparently based on Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump; they […]

REVIEW: 48 Nights on Hope Street (Auckland Theatre Company)

September 17, 2020
[Hope abounds, the theatre is alive] 48 Nights on Hope Street is a triumphant addition to an anthological tradition.  Drawing on Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, Auckland Theatre Company has brought together the works of five talented young writers, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Leki Jackson-Bourke, Nathan Joe, Ana Scotney, and Cian Elyse White.  Set during the Black Death epidemic, the Decameron is a story cycle […]

REVIEW: Black Lover (Auckland Theatre Company)

September 13, 2020
[Unearthing the realities of Anti-Black Racism] Black Lover is a tale about colonial violence during the mid-1960s prelude to Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, sparked by increasing resistance to rule by a White-only minority. Written by Stanley Makuwe, it follows the fever-ridden agitation of Rhodesia’s former colonial leader, Garfield Todd (Cameron Rhodes), who is trapped at home due to a house […]

Dead Bird: Reflections on The Seagull (A New Version by Auckland Theatre Company)

June 10, 2020
During the Covid-19 lockdown, Auckland Theatre Company launched a four episode adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull created within the constraints of social distancing at the time. Using the now widely used Zoom app as its mode of production, it was also set within the world of Zoom too, placing its characters squarely within the circumstances of our global pandemic. […]

REVIEW: Black Lover (Auckland Theatre Company)

March 16, 2020
[A Kiwi Hero in Zimbabwe] When Sir Garfield Todd denounced racial injustice in 1950s Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), he was fiercely hated by supporters of white minority rule. Among the pejoratives they called him was “black lover”. Stanley Makuwe’s Black Lover is an illuminating glimpse into an overlooked chapter of history: a remarkable chapter which saw the Invercargill-born Todd become Prime Minister of […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2019 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 30, 2019
[What could we do with sustainable practice?] The challenges of making a living out of the performing and screen arts are well known to the industry, but there is something about seeing the facts in black and white that throws the problem into stark relief. I’m talking about research commissioned by Creative New Zealand and NZ on Air released in […]
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