What: Winter One Act Double Feature
Where: Little Theatre, McGrath St Napier
When: On until June 17, 7.30pm Tickets at iTicket.co.nz
Reviewed by: Keith Russell
One great advantage theatre has over other artistic genres is the feeling of personal connection the audience has as they witness character transformations in real time.
With that in mind, Napier Repertory Players have chosen two one-act plays as their winter presentation with a distinctly Kiwi flavour, as both are written by New Zealand playwrights.
One-act plays are more commonly associated with festivals and fringe theatre, simple, but deceptively difficult to write and perform.
The first story is Jigsaw, written by local actress Verona Nicholson who continues her improving career as a playwright.
Under the astute direction of Jacquie Hills, the audience eavesdrops on a group of four women who reunite and discuss events from their past.
Rachel Keith as Vicky has excellent stage presence along with Kirsty Daly as Beth, the most complex of the characters.
Sandra Alsleben gave likeability to her character in a much-understated way, as did Paula Wray as Karen their hostess with a few secrets of her own. A brief appearance came from Mike Connolly as Karen’s boyfriend, confident in his character, with clever facial expressions.
The second story is Elevator, not only set in a broken elevator but as the dynamics of the characters unfold the clever use of a metaphor to introduce us to the trapped manner of their lives.
Written by award-winning playwright Jess Sayer and very skilfully directed by Brylee Lamb, we are introduced to three diverse female protagonists. Sarah Graham was suitably protective as Bridget, the mother who was always putting others first. However, it was Yvonne Lorkin as Samantha her daughter, that stood out for me, performing one of the best portrayals of a sardonic mind I have seen on stage.
Closely matching her performance was Amy Edwards as Harper, the vulnerability of her character went close to being disturbing.
Actors in both plays projected their characters well, along with clarity of voice, although I wish actors would remember that when you turn your head from the audience the sound goes with it.
Lighting and sound were well controlled by Peter Hurley, with two simple but meaningful sets by Hurley and Glenn Cook.
Elevator would hold its own in any fringe theatre festival due to its content, dialogue and brave writing style.
Jigsaw takes a softer approach, using humour along with sharp dialogue to command your attention, an approach usually better used in full-length plays.
Nicholson should be very proud of what she wrote and combined with Sayers’ “hammer blow” style of writing, an absorbing night at the theatre can be assured.