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March 22, 2010 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

The International Festival In Briefs


360. 12 – 21 March at Te Whaea. The central gimmick of this show, that you sat in swivel chairs as the action occurred all around you with you turning to follow it, was by far and away the most appealing part of the work. While Bruce Philips gives a wonderful, evocative performance, the rest of the cast fail to rise to the calling, giving bland performances full of dull surprise and shallow, grating accents. The story was pointlessly circular (ba dum pish) and the dialogue violently oscillated between stating the obvious, cliché subtext and just being boring. The pace was more of a drool and it would be easy to accuse it of failing its own thematic goals, but since those goals were so blatant and derivative that failure was possibly the more positive option. There is somewhere to go with this idea, it’s just a long way away.

Apollo 13: Mission Control
. 27 Feb – 9 March at Downstage. Good interactive fun that is soon to take the world by storm. Locally grown genius that we can be proud of. With the extremely impressive technical work it’s easy to ignore what a good job the whole cast do, especially Kip Chapman and Jason Whyte. Was very good when it was a STAB show, is very great as a Festival work. One can only wonder how brilliant it will be when it next returns.

The Arrival. 11 – 14 March at the Opera House. There is a lot more to love in its style than in its substance but that’s not a bad thing. The Arrival shows what marvellous things can happen when Kiwi theatre makers get proper budgets. While the story may have gotten a little lost among the gorgeous spectacle, you’re too busy having big eye fun to care.

Eleven and Twelve
. 10 – 14 March at the St. James. Peter Brook is human. Peter Brook, arguably the defining theorist of modern drama and one of the most acclaimed directors of all time, is human. That is all that can be learned from Eleven and Twelve, a bland, boring, one note, overly traditional work that at points became so pointlessly dry and slow that one could not help but consider that this work exists in slow motion.

The Letter Writer. 7 – 21 March at Circa. While overly terse, The Letter Writer is liberated by universally profound performances and some truly stunning design work. These bring nuance and depth to what could be a hackneyed and pointless voyage through a sea of bland refugee clichés. Luckily, talent saved the day.

Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland. 13 – 21 March at Te Papa. One cannot help but get the feeling of a few too many cooks in this work that is incredibly accomplished in style and execution, but more often than not incoherent in story and meaning. This work leaps somewhat randomly from beautiful moment to beautiful performance and back with very little connecting the two. A brilliant mound of clay needing a firmer shape.

Mary Stuart. 27 Feb – 21 March at Circa. Circa’s one full-blooded production for this festival contains several wonderful performances (not from who you’d expect) and a lot of talking. It is more a flying litany of declamation than it is an actual performance.

Sound of Silence. 26 Feb – 5 March. Three hours of Simon and Garfunkel, placed itself as the soundtrack to a brilliant swathe of great and precise stage images. Maybe a bit long, but never less than genius.

T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T. 13 – 19 March at TSB Bank Arena. There is good theatre, there is great theatre and then there is theatre so brilliant it makes you angry. T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T. is one of those shows. So shimmeringly perfect, so coolly complete, so totally, totally perfect, that you cannot help but wince in annoyance that you will never produce anything like it. A theatrical adaptation by the Polish National theatre of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s cult film Theorem, it is an exquisite two hours and ten minutes of slowly building mood and image. This is a show that understands the difference between giving an audience what they want and what they need. A tale of an intruder breaking down the bourgeois madness of a family. Sublime.

Full reviews of all shows are up on the website at


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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