I’m sold [by Matt Baker]
In his opening night speech, director Jesse Peach obscurely alluded to the possibility of Death of a Salesman being his last production*. While I actively concede that this may have been a misinterpretation of inarticulate speech, I would like to think that going out on a high note is the correct course of action in the case of Peach Theatre Company, as a high note has now been achieved.
Programme notes and post-show audience commentary of the play beat the more-relevant-now-than-ever drum, yet, I would riposte, when has it not been? Even before we left the jungle, when have the concepts of success, monetary gain, parental delusion, parental worship, delusions of grandeur, self-achieved submission, and family not been relevant? A play’s success comes from the universality and timelessness of its themes, and, while the social, economic, and political climate of a city/country in which a play is produced should have some relevance, I found far more in the story between father and son than in that of the American Dream. This is not due to any lack on the part of George Henare as the eponymous salesman (there is, quite simply, nothing that Henare lacks as an actor) or the apathy-inducing over-abundance of economic/financial hardship we see purported in the media, but can instead be ascribed to the complexity, empathy, and power of Ian Hughes’ portrayal of Biff.
Miller's Memorable Masterpiece [by Sharu Delilkan]
The minute Richard Knowles heard that Peach Theatre Company was staging Death of a Salesman he lost no time contacting producer/director Jesse Peach.
“I studied Death of a Salesman at school and I even used one of the monologues for my audition at Toi Whakaari. So I wanted to be involved in any way I could. And when I heard George Henare was going to be Willy I wanted to be a part of it even more.”
Knowles says he was privileged to see Henare playing Willy in Circa’s production of the same show in 2006.
“George’s portrayal of Willy Loman absolutely blew me away. It’s really amazing to be sharing the stage with him and see him work. His treatment of Willy in this production is very different from what I saw, which makes it all the more interesting.”
Physics, History, and the Atomic Bomb [by Rosabel Tan]
Sometimes a play will continue to work on you long after you’ve left the theatre. I don’t mean that the memory lingers, though this happens too, but that the experience continues to grow and transform, the seed of what was planted onstage blossoming over time.
A digression: Adaptation is one of my favourite films, but I hated it the first time I saw it. It irritated me, I didn’t understand the end, and what a fool I was. A week later I found myself still thinking about it, so I watched it again and realised that Kaufman was a genius and the film was a masterpiece. Copenhagen, for me, lies in the same realm.
German Physicist Werner Heisenberg (Simon Kane) is remembered for two things, or so he tells us: The uncertainty principle, and a brief visit he made to the home of his half-Jewish mentor Neils Bohr (Bruce Phillips) in Copenhagen in 1941. The nature of this argument remains a subject of controversy, and the play shows Heisenberg, Bohr and Bohr’s wife Margrethe (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) revisiting the event in a kind of afterlife where they try to figure out precisely what happened and why it led to the dissolution of Bohr and Heisenberg’s friendship.
1,000 Reasons to see 1,000 Hills
[by Sharu Delilkan]
It is always a privilege and an honour to witness the premier of an original piece of theatre. But to be among the first to experience the personal sharing of a true story is even more significant. Naturally the foyer of the Herald Theatre was buzzing with eager anticipation when I arrived.
However given the subject matter I must admit I had the sinking feeling, in the back of my mind, that the work may be morbid, depressing and shocking in the spirit of the film Hotel Rwanda.
But those apprehensions were very soon cast aside as we were greeted by the pulsating sound of African drums when we entered the theatre. The music literally reverberated through our bodies and set the ambience for the evening. As others made their way to their seats I looked around me and noticed a number of regular theatregoers, who would ordinarily appear rather formal in their seats, moving to hypnotic beat of the drums. There was no denying the infectious music, both lively and joyous, had a definite impact on the audience – and was a sign of what was ahead.
Dark and Twisted [by James Wenley]
After a string of collaborations and monologue directing, Thomas Sainsbury returns to The Basement with The Family Wilder, setting his style to the dark camp of the thriller genre’s twist and turns.
Harry McNaughton plays the softly-spoken writer Clive, who is tasked with writing the biography of Wilder Family patriarch and ruthless businessman Bill. Bill, played by Bruce Phillips, is Alasdair Thompson’s kind of bloke. Generally denigrating to anyone but himself and full of pithy put downs, especially towards his no-hoper children Art (Todd Emerson) and Elizabeth (Fern Sutherland). His son may be useless, but he would never stand for his daughter to take over the business. The loathsome Art and Elizabeth, despite being siblings, have something of a Macbeth/Lady Macbeth relationship, and are plotting to kill their father. Hapless Clive might just be the person they need to help them get away with it…
Yvette Parsons, always a treat onstage, rounds out the cast as the staunchly Christian housekeeper/personal assistant Hodge, fiercely loyal to her employer, and can carry a good song.