In my theatre-going tonight, the role of Clare was played by my friend Chloe, so my comments are without Clare’s usual additions and expansions. I saw the play at the Gryphon Theatre, which is a tiny space that I have now seen put to some amazing uses, with some quite complex staging. This play was one of the simplest – just a desk and a small raised platform. The Gryphon Theatre is shared by a number of different companies, who each seem to take turns putting things on, and as far as I’m aware, and I haven’t really delved here, they’re completely amateur.
Tonight’s production sparks no remembrances of productions past – I’ve never heard of it, and there are a few too many NZ references for them to be late insertions for local colour. So, I speculate, an original NZ production. The basic scenario is a group of writers on a medical soap grappling with writing out a main character, and the spiralling revelations and consequences. The cast is small, with everyone doubling a character inside and outside the fiction, though the events are largely in the “real” rather than in the “soap”.
The dialogue was good, there were a healthy number of very witty one-liners and arch exchanges. The basic text tended to operate on a fairly broad and straightforward platform – there weren’t obscure references or highly intricate structures that I noticed. That meant that everyone in the audience had a good chance of getting every joke – and they did. There were laughs-a-plenty at the performance I saw. This was aided by the delivery of the cast, who had a very natural delivery style and even with a small handful of misreadings nailed the crucial part of comedy – timing. They also brought a solid base of realism to their physical actions: when the action and dialogue implied people should be touching they were, when the dialogue implied they should be shouting, they were.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t a few small problems. I felt that the very final scene could have been trimmed just a little, and the hints at more metaphysical conundrums could have been a little more like prompts or suggestions. But, these are quibbles, dickering about very small details that you don’t notice at the time, but would like to see changed if you were to watch a show more than once.
All in all, this was one of the best productions I’ve been to at the Gryphon. I heartily recommend it.