On this, I would add that as a woman in my early twenties, I found the characterisation of ‘Various other women’, played by Amy Usherwood, to be disempowering. The various women were portrayed in a bimbo-ish manner which I found to be shaming and uninteresting. Sherwood has incredible precision and energy in her craft, but unfortunately the characterisations read as stereotypical.
Jack Buchanan offers proof that this is possible, portraying ‘Various other men’ with a dedication and precision that allows for great humour while maintaining genuine engagement with the characters. This is a lesson in the ways that a ridiculous character can still be humanised and empathetic. ACHE is the romance we WANT because it is hilarious. The realistic dialogue, developed and explored characters, and the patchwork narrative (while maintaining a strong arch) made for a highly engaging watch. This narrative appeals to those of us who prefer the stories about a one-night-stand or a tinder date becoming a successful relationship, to the soul-mate grew-up-next-door romance narrative. It is difficult to invest in the unfamiliar, and ACHE couldn’t be closer to home. The eloquent and subtle inclusion of drugs and alcohol as huge parts of the New Zealand dating culture was particularly interesting too, as a part of romance we do not often see done well on stage.
Part of this closeness is carried in the energising and familiar music choices. As an avid top 40 fan, this production was a dream to me. Sound design by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, who incidentally directed the show brilliantly, and Deb McGuire. The sound also acted as a useful ‘in’ to the reality of the world depicted.
The set on this production was incredible. Versatile, stylish, precise. Set and costume design was by Ian Harman , and the set was constructed by Finn Robson Marsden. The execution was impeccable and the entire world enchanting. The lighting design by Marcus McShane, operated by Deb McGuire, and the AV Design by Jonathan Harris, all worked together to create an immersive yet stranger-than-friction reality, which we invested in heavily.
This is a must see for Wellington locals, even if, all of the important empowerment aside, you simply want to roar with laughter. Life is timing. Love is timing. God knows Laughter is timing. Thankfully, this power-house cast and strong Director will teach you something about all three.