The play is Written and Directed by Sam Fisher and Tim Barcode respectively- and interchangeably, as they are the same person. In the Wolf programme the authored author Tim Barcode is a washed up, Dunedinite, alcoholic, Duncan Sarkies-meets-Bukowski figure. I am confused as to why someone would use a novelty persona to write a dark slice of life drama set amongst a tragedy. If not to remain anonymous as a means of comfortably distancing themselves then what is the intent of the pen name?
I feel this production suffers from a pitfall common in shows where the writer is also the director. The direction takes no theatrical risk with the text leaves little to perform after it has so clearly indicated the characters performance. The plot is advanced exclusively through dialogue with characters reactions catching up to the story. It is difficult to be immersed in the whodunit because the characters deliver so much exposition we are never surprised by the new information.
Another barrier to engaging with the mystery is the lack of defined space presented by the design and treatment of the space. The doormat works perfectly to suggest the entrance to the house, but this is completely broken as the actors walk off it at diagonals. It is impossible to become immersed when the action contradicts the world created by the design.
Walls of cardboard boxes line the outside of the Bats Propellor stage. The quantity of these boxes sits between spectacle and subtle, exploring and attaining neither. Their useage begs for evolution, either through interaction by the actors or as a way to tighten the playing space.
As the staged lounge is unbelievably proportioned it made the blocking jarring as they actors were either standing very far away or very close to their scene partners. This gives the performances a disconnected quality that could be addressed with a heightened focus on eye contact, the oft lack of which made the relationships difficult to believe.
While the factual elements of the quakes were there; the power cut, PTSD and bucket shits, it seemed that the characters trajectories were not altered by the earthquakes; their resolutions would have occurred regardless of the agitating factor. Steven talks in interviews that the Earthquakes are a metaphor for uncertainty and the inability to trust those around you.. This intention could not be fully realised as the characters never seemed to trust each other to begin with.