Two Queens, two kingdoms [by Sharu Delilkan]
With the recent revelry to mark the British Royals tying their nuptials I wasn’t surprised that The Maidment Theatre’s foyer was packed to the gunnels when we arrived.
But I soon realised it was because there were two sets of audiences in the house – those gearing up for the NZ International Comedy Festival show at The Musgrove Theatre and the rest who were anticipating the historic journey with Mary Stuart.
As we filed into the theatre we heard people whispering with excitement about the Outrageous Fortune’s stars – Elizabeth Hawthorne & Robyn Malcolm — about to grace the stage.
All the elements – the costume, direction, lighting, music and set – combine seamlessly to set the mood, the era and complement the actors on stage.
The story is replete with contrasts, freedom vs confinement, wanton living against regal duty, displacement and homeland, privilege and struggle, beauty and ugliness, …the list goes on.
John Parker’s set is both simple and impressive and has the versatility to represent the diverse situations of the two queens with ease. The choreography of the wrought iron partitions’ movement is royally executed while their see-through quality enables characters to lurk in the background as persuasive, jealous, ever on the minds and influencing the scheming decisions of the two queens.
Oo hoo hoo hoo… [by James Wenley]
Poor Boy is a song written by kiwi music royalty Tim Finn and released in 1980 on Split Enz’s True Colours album. The lyrics ‘My love is alien, I picked her up by chance / She speaks to me in ultra-high frequency’ are apparently about a ‘poor boy’ who falls in love with an alien, who he can only hear through radio interference. Righty. It seems a strange choice then for this song to become the title and main musical theme of Poor Boy, a play that makes much use of Tim Finn’s music, about a man killed in a traffic accident who returns 7 years to the day of his death in the body of a 7 year old boy.
Poor Boy, the play, begins surreally. A tricycle moves seemingly by itself. A man walks in wearing a large Zebra mask. This is Danny (Roy Snow) the dead man who will inhabit the body of Boy (Finn McLachlan at my performance, who alternates the role with Mitchell Hageman). He sings the titular track in an almost low key way, the music never quite bursting into the full Split Enz version that we know. An intentional choice.
Poor Boy, a collaboration between playwright Matt Cameron and composer Tim Finn, had seasons in Melbourne and Sydney in 2009 where they apparently aimed to replicate closely the original versions of Finn’s songs, which include Into the Water, Ghost Girl and Unsinkable. In Auckland Theatre Company’s version, under director Raymond Hawthorne and Musical Director John Gibson, the songs and play have been re-jigged. Gibson’s versions adhere less strictly to the originals, a decision, along with removing the interval and tightening the play, I imagine strengthens the experience considerably (John Gibson says they felt the songs needed to be bought more into the world of the play), especially since the connections between some songs and plot is tenuous at best, though points for making Poor Boy’s thematic impossible love and radio references work.