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October 8, 2007 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Dark Matter

Hail to 77 Fairlie Terrace for being such a production powerhouse. This trimester it has been battered and bewildered by the reign of theatre students who have decided to take the helm and direct a wee production. Soon we can all go home, as the THEA304 directing students are here for one last season of three short plays. I offer thee a sneak preview.

New Zealand Lamb is about Grace’s wedding. Everything is going beautifully until her father, a Newtown butcher, goes missing. Then it turns into a marathon across Wellington with a bridal dress. It’s written by New Zealand playwright Angie Farrow who’s had three of her plays staged in Wellington recently, The Bowler Hat (Fringe 07), Amnesia (Directing season at Studio 77, 2005) and the award winning After Kafka. Striptease (by Slawomir Mrozeck) places two men from the beaten track of their everyday commute into a small room with locked doors. How they got there? An inexplicable series of events. Sounds a lot like the works of Jigsaw (From the Movie Saw for those who are culturally illiterate) with the exception of instead of using tools to snip your body parts and scream like a little baby, enter stage left, a hand of a supernatural size.

Warning: contains no explicit content. I repeat for those dirty minded ones out there. No explicit content. Leave Santa Fe out of this one.

Now, to offer you a bite size of religion. Orison (by Fernando Arrabal) offers a sharp critique on religion, while a young couple comes to terms with the sudden death of their child.

But none of that interests me. Frankly, it bores me, with drama constantly smashing its head against the flaws of humanity. What does interest me, however, is the directors.

Sophie Prebble promised me that the set would be a huge giant wedding cake. That’s enough to make me go and watch. But she promised more!

“It’s a physical comedy of our local Wellington with a lady in white on her wedding day! It could have only come out from Newtown.” This I’ve got to see.

Ralph Upton, on the other hand was slightly less excited, in a quiet mumble, he said, “I hope my play is entertaining and spooky.” Remember when you were a kid and we used to make friends by shadows? Ralph seems like he is still there. “Striptease is entirely performed in shadows,” he said, sounding strangely serious for a change. Think about it, most plays go lights on and off with maybe one or two colour differences.

Ralph has decided to go with shadows and make them into the very essence of the play. Personally I think it’s a wicked idea. Add a freaking huge hand and the vulnerability of man and I am intrigued to see lights being a role in a play for a change.

Forgive me if this next section is a little biased. I grew up on ritual theatre with the likes the Greeks and Peter Shaffer, so naturally I was quite drawn to Orison being a ritual play. By ritual, I mean masks and events that verge on religion. This play hit a spiritual nerve, as director Matthew Nagel states, “I want to draw the duality of complete evil and complete good”. And it’ll hit the intellectuals too. Nice and balanced, I like it.

If anything, it will be these directors that bring the real flair to these plays, bringing Studio 77 a fresh renewal of narrative theatre. A giant hand? Personally, I can’t wait.

Finally, last but certainly not least Dark Matter! is playing at Studio 77 (77 Fairlie Terrace, Kelburn) from Wednesday the 10th – Saturday the 13th of October. Shows start at 7pm each night, with tickets $12 waged and $8 unwaged. Bookings: or 04 463 5359.


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