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September 3, 2007 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Pig Hunt

Pig Hunt. The best new New Zealand play I’ve seen…for a long time. Maybe it’s because I love gender issues. Maybe it’s because I love Wainui.

Maybe it’s cos I’m sick of dragging my boyfriend to boring theatre all year, and for once he was genuinely excited post-performance. Or maybe it’s because I like seeing a play that (to use a terrible cliché) makes me laugh, cry and think. Jason Whyte plays Rob, a plumber living in Wainui who enjoys going out pig hunting on the weekends with his mate James (Jamie McCaskill).

The play begins with Rob getting back together with his ex girlfriend and James’ sister, Donna (Rapai Te Hau). When Rob gets terminally ill he can’t face it, choosing to ignore the pain, keep hunting and pushing his loved ones away. Confrontation in the bush ensues.

The concept of New Zealand masculinity is dealt with both humorously and in a very moving way. On one hand, male friendship is shown as strong, pure and honest – James delves back into the bush to carry his sick mate to safety. On the other, to be male in Wainui (and probably most of New Zealand) is shown to be repressed and scared. His dog is his best friend because he knows what it’s like, firsthand, to be want to be ‘the top dog’.

By Brian Hotter
Directed by Kerryn Palmer
BATS, August 21 – September 1

Simultaneously, Hotter pays homage and critique to his hometown of Wainui. One of the funniest scenes in the play is when Rob and James pretend to hijack a bus going to Eastbourne and take it over the hill to Wainui, giving the audience a guided tour. The homegrown music and other touches like this give the play an authentic feel.

Jason Whyte is outstanding as Rob, capturing his curt mode of speech and his ailing physicality, demonstrating some excellent mime skills in the pig-hunting sequences. Jamie McCaskill is comedic gold, but reveals a softer side. Rapai Te Hau is excellent in the role of Donna, trying to be a support for her ill husband, whilst keeping herself going, despite having less to work with in terms of script than the guys.

Kerryn Palmer directs Brian Hotter’s excellent script with ease; merging time and space seamlessly and somehow making time disappear. The bed at home becomes a hospital bed, without any of the usual annoying blackouts. This sense is aided by Brian King’s evocative set and Marcus McShane’s effortless lighting.

Whilst I don’t believe that plays dealing with males are lacking in this country, I support any play that wants to deal with what feels like the real New Zealand in an entertaining and moving way. This play should tour the country.


About the Author ()

Well hello there. Eleanor was the Theatre Editor in 2007, now she writes the Women's Column and just generally minces about the Salient office. Eleanor is currently an Honours student in Theatre (with a touch of gender). She also has a BCA in Marketing but she tries to keep that on the d-low (embarrassing, because she loves academic integrity and also perpetuating the myth that she's a tad bohemian). If you've got a gender agenda, woo her by taking her a BYO Malaysian. She lies, if you show any interest at all she'll probably tackle you in the street and force you to write a column.

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