My love-hate relationship with Silo’s Private Lives [by James Wenley]
Consider this plot: A newly remarried man about town books into a hotel room for his honeymoon only to discover that his ex-wife has booked the very next room for her own honeymoon. Will old sparks be reflamed? And what about their new partners? Hijinks and hilarity ensue.
Sure sounds like a plot from a cookie-cutter romantic comedy. Get Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis to star. We’ll call it ‘The Honeymoon’. Print that money.
Theatre buffs like you know will know that this is in fact the plot of perennial favourite Private Lives by Noel Coward. Scandalous on its 1930 debut, director Shane Bosher, with a few cosmetic changes has thrust this comedy of bad manners into a raucous and sexy contemporary set version.
Matt Whelan and Mia Blake are the warring, chemically volatile ex-lovers Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne, and it is their love-hate relationship that makes the play so delicious. It’s a dynamic that has provided good drama for centuries, and Coward’s dry wit is saturated with acid. Sighting each other on the hotel balcony they are aghast, but they are inevitably pulled back into their old romantic hurricane.
What DOES it mean to be gay? [by Rosabel Tan]
You want a play to change you. You want it to take you by surprise, to delight you, to hurt you. You want it to whisper in your ear three days later when you’re trying to focus during a staff meeting about strategy and best practice. You want it to be meaningful, in whatever way it intends.
In his notes, Alexi Kaye Campbell explains that in writing The Pride, he was interested in the notion of gay identity. “In what it means to be gay in 2009 and how that definition was formed.” We’re presented with the same three characters, Sylvia (Dena Kennedy), Oliver (Kip Chapman) and Philip (Simon London) dealing with the issues of identity and love and betrayal in two parallel timelines: the first is in London in 1958, when homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. Sylvia, a former actress, has been illustrating one of Oliver’s children’s books and has invited him over for dinner. She’s desperate that her husband Philip – an uptight real estate agent – and Oliver get on, and it’s clear from the suffocating silences and stammering conversation that they will, though it won’t be an easy ride.
A matter of pride [by Sharu Delilkan]
A heterosexual woman at the helm of a thrilling contemporary narrative predominantly focussed on the gay issues could have been a point of concern. But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Sophie Roberts' role as director for The Pride.
Her history of working on productions with gay themes has made her role in The Pride a natural progression in her career.
“I have done quite a few gay-oriented plays so I am quite comfortable dealing with those issues. I also like working with or highlighting the perspective of people on the fringes of society. I find such work more interesting and enjoy working in that territory. I strongly believe that theatre has a social and political function, which is why I seek out work that talks about these issues. And the fact that the gay marriage bill coming up in parliament gives the content of the play a lot more weight and relevance,” she says.
Jack the Ripper finally comes to Auckland, and he’s got a knife… [by James Wenley]
When I met Anders Falstie-Jensen during his lunch break from rehearsals at the Basement, he was beaming and full of enthusiasm for his latest project. The play he is directing, Yours Truly sounds like a ripper. Jack the Ripper to be precise. Written by Albert Belz, the play promises to be one of the scariest and darkest thrillers from a New Zealand playwright.
But other than the subject matter, there is something else for Anders to be excited about – the play marks a significant milestone for Anders and his theatre company The Rebel Alliance (whose Fringe offering Standstill I really enjoyed). For the first time, thanks to a grant from Creative New Zealand, Anders can go to paid full time work, 9-5, as a theatre director…
Yours Truly has been a long time coming to the Auckland stage. It debuted at BATS Wellington in 2006 and won Best New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp awards, but save for a production in Whangarei it all but disappeared. Playmarket had first alerted Producer/Director Anders Faltsie-Jensen to the play in 2008, but due to busyness it lay unread on his desk for three months. “When I finally got around to reading it – as soon as I finished it”, Anders says, “I biked down to the office and said I really want to do this show.” Unfortunately, Anders was told that the rights were no longer available.
Surely kicking himself for not reading it sooner, Anders was presented with another opportunity when the rights went back up, but with a catch. A guy called Sam was also interested in the play...
Not your classic ‘bathroom’ drama [by James Wenley]
In The Only Child, actor Stephen Lovatt spends most of his time in the bath.
If this sounds like taking it easy as an actor, it is anything but. From the bathtub Lovatt, naked - physically and emotionally, delivers an intense performance as a father dealing with profound loss, grief and, most harrowing of all, guilt.
It is a standout performance amongst an already impressive cast of Claire Chitham, Josephine Davison and Sam Snedden. Easily deserving of the ‘Best Actor in a bathtub’ award, I’d venture further to call it the performance of the year. He is one of many good reasons to see this production.
The Only Child was adapted by rising Australian auteur Simon Stone from Little Eyolf, one of Henrik Ibsen’s lesser performed works, written in 1894. Stone, 26, has created a name for himself with bold, sometimes controversial modern revisionist works of theatre classics and pushing theatrical boundaries. For his version of The Wildest Duck he placed his actors in a glass box, unable to see their audience. For its New Zealand debut, The Only Child is fittingly directed by Shane Bosher and presented by Silo Theatre who this year especially (excepting perhaps that Vodka show) have refreshed themselves and really delivered potent and exciting theatre in The Brothers Size and I love you Bro.