The stage is set with 1920s jazz playing as our Dr. Faustus (Katie Boyle) sits reading a book. While absorbed in her activity, there is a constrained atmosphere about her, a tightness that wishes to spring into action, to be and do more. This small glimpse perfectly sums up the story of The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus, the doctor who’s intellect and thirst for knowledge leads her to the occult, selling her soul for magic and power. The show hasn’t even started and I am riveted. As Boyle sits, her consciences play chess against each other. The Bad Devil (Charlie Potter) outwitting the Good Angel (Jonathon Ensor) in a foreshadowed moment of what will come. I love that no dialogue has passed yet and there is still so much to analyse. I sense my interest in this show will be much like the play itself, I’ll want more even as I obtain it.
The First Time is a stirring piece of theatre focused on the varied experiences of five young women learning about mental health, love, sexuality, and their own limits. Written by Courtney Rose Brown, the script won ‘Highly Commended’ in Playmarket’s Playwrights b425 competition in 2016, and has since performed two previous seasons at BATS theatre, and Little Theatre in Lower Hutt. The writing is honest, intelligent, and earnestly funny. It doesn’t point fingers or alienate, allowing anyone of any gender, identity, class or ethnicity to feel a sense of themselves within the show.
by Laura Ferguson
Finally, it’s arrived. Carrie: the Musical, the flagship production of new Wellington-based theatre company WITCH. I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few weeks, waiting to see what it would be like. Settling myself in my seat, a grainy Spirit in the Sky plays, then BAM! A spotlight hits Sue Snell (Flora Lloyd) and she’s interrogated by sinister off-stage agents of nondescript government. We then explode back in time to the story of Carrie, but with boisterous, with campy choreography alongside serious music and lyrics, instead of the nondescript suburbia that the movie depicts. Once we’re totally in musical land, the talent of the Carrie cast comes out in full. My friend and I laugh with the over-the-top teenage drama of it all, but no one else does. I immediately know two things about Carrie: the Musical – I’m going to love it, and I am going to laugh inappropriately.
Under Milk Wood is a ‘day in the life of’ radio play about forty-odd people in a rural Welsh town. In Victoria University’s recent for-stage adaptation, Under Milk Wood feels more at home. Directed by Nicola Hyland, performed and designed by 300-level theatre students, their rendition of Under Milk Wood takes place in a 1950s New Zealand, within the fantasy rural town of Llareggub – a reversed ‘bugger all’. Rather than a more traditional plot, the audience receives little snippets of the lives of each character, creating a patchwork blanket with the themes of multi- and interculturalism and the setting serving as the needles and stitches. Under Milk Wood sports meticulous direction, engaging performances, and truly phenomenal design work.
Three Days in the Country, directed by Susan Wilson and written by Patrick Marber, is a tumultuous tale of love in all its forms and the risks one can suffer by loving. The story follows a wealthy family living in nineteenth-century rural Russia. Mother of the household Natalya (Bronwyn Turei), who finds herself falling for her son’s tutor Belyaev (Simon Leary). Unfortunately, so does her eldest daughter, Vera (Harriet Prebble). Three Days in the Country asks: “how much can love manipulate what we do?” The production sports an exceptionally talented cast across the board, all supported by the beautiful design elements and updated script. Three Days in the Country is a long journey, but it’s a journey I don’t mind thanks to the quality performances and sheer effort of everyone involved.
I have been excited to see The Basement Tapes for a while now. After a sell-out Fringe season culminating in several awards, there were many lost souls who knew they had missed out on Something with a capital S – myself included. Yet despite the buzz and the frenzy, I didn’t actually know what The Basement Tapes was. It was about a Grandma, and her basement. Intriguing, but yet not overly informative. That was about as far as my knowledge took me.
What do you get when you have an actor that hasn’t even seen their script before performing to a live, paying audience? What about with no director or any prior instructions as well? You get Nassim Soleimanpour’s critically acclaimed White Rabbit Red Rabbit, a play shrouded in enigma and mystery. White Rabbit Red Rabbit is unlike any other show I have ever seen. And while this kind of sentiment is common whenever someone sees work they find provoking, I promise with all the sincerity I can muster there is nothing quite like experiencing it.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.