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July 7, 2008 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Young and Hungry ‘08

After watching all three Young and Hungry plays this year, there is no question that the future of the industry is mostly in good hands. Every year, the Young and Hungry Festival of New Works gives young performers, designers, writers and even stage managers the opportunity to work in the capacity of a professional theatre. The festival is a great initiative and is an important one for the theatre industry. That said, the shows are often hit and miss. This year’s Young and Hungry has given us two great plays and one which just didn’t quite cut the mustard.

The evening’s second show Swan Song, by the illustrious Branwen Millar, was a creative and often surreal exploration of a dead girl’s memories and the future she had lost. Brendan Goudswaard and Anita Rossbach’s rich costuming aided director Willem Wassenaar’s heightened performance style, both of which were bright, colourful and a total pleasure to look at. The cast of 11 were confident and worked very well as a single unit, a testimony to Wassenaar’s able directing skills. While some found the play’s plot a trifle confusing, for me it was simply a case of working to engage with the show. Audiences these days can be so lazy!

RPM was the evening’s last offering, written by Dave Armstrong and directed by Leo Gene Peters. The play is about six young people burning through the streets of Wellington on a Friday night. Peters has done a fine job at keeping the show credible. Poorlyexecuted car scenes are, for me, one of the banes of theatre, however Peters’ cast handle their floating steering-wheels very naturally and the location changes are easy to follow. The cast strike a superb mixture of tragedy and humour and we laughed and cried with them right to the last.

While Swan Song and RPM were finely-wrought and polished, the night’s first show, Yolk, was lacking. This was no fault of the performers, who held the show together very nicely. The show suffered mainly from cumbersome design elements and some clumsy direction. There was a noticeable amount of dead time and a few awkard pieces of props and set. Why reconfigure and shift the centre set-piece for one scene, and then move it back again? However, as the themes of the play began to consolidate in the latter part of the show I did enjoy it much more, and all of the cast members should be commended for their willingness to unashamedly tackle some very mature and nerve-wracking themes.

But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if the shows are good or bad. What’s important about Young and Hungry is that fresh faces are given a taste for blood. No, wait, I meant a taste of the professional theatre circuit – and that the circuit is given a taste of them too.

Young and Hungry ’08
At Bats
June 20 – July 5


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