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A View From Inside: Three short plays

Jono Griffith



An onstage birth, a canary and a disembodied voice; the three key ingredients to any Shakespearean tragedy, and a great night at the theatre. Victoria’s second season of third-year directing students’ works displayed talent and creativity. Though not ostensibly related, the three productions shared a maternal through-line, in each case developed very differently.
The evening began with a New Zealand work; Renée’s Tiggy Tiggy Touch Wood, directed by Cherie Jacobson, which eased the audience into a sombre evening. The social commentary challenged the audience to review their own treatment of individuals who stray from the social norm. The piece featured particularly strong performances from the two central characters, Rebecca Wilson, as Tiggy, a mentally incapacitated victim of sexual abuse, and her lover-turned-carer, Missy (Hannah Banks).
The positioning of the stage was effective insomuch as it allowed use of the outside door of the theatre. However, there was a need for the warmth and comfort of a homely environment (beautifully crafted by the performance of Hannah Banks) to contrast the image of isolation of the institute Tiggy was sent to. This was hindered by the fuck-off huge garage door which dominated the setting.
During a quick break, the theatre was miraculously transformed for the effectively staged production of Beckett’s Footfalls. Beckett described the “life-long stretches of walking” as “the centre of the play, everything else is secondary”. We don’t think a playwright has ever quite so accurately foreseen an audience’s response to a theatrical work. The man in front us summed up the performance upon its resolution (if Beckett ever has a resolution) with a hearty “phew!”
Jeremy Downing directed a truly Beckettian production. The self-professed enthusiast followed the stage direction almost to the tittle. Visually pleasing, the vocal dynamics were awkwardly removed from the overall aesthetic. This intruded on the production and suggested that if one is going to follow a script and style in every other aspect, there is an expectation of consistency.
After a swig of vodka we were prepared to continue. Following the tough-going Beckett, the audience were in dire need of a light-hearted laugh. This was reflected in the willingness to find humour in the cruelty of Artaud’s La Pierre Philosophale, directed by Jackson Coe (whose name, omitted from the programme, was hastily glued on).
The sightlines were poor for roughly a third of the audience. The lights were blinding. The mime was inconsistent. However, Jackson says, “I enjoy it for its bravery,” and the audience did too. Although with a slight feeling of guilt, we laughed. What else can you do when a blood-spattered maniac and Harlequin tag-team a dominatrix? Harvey Wallbanger.

VUW Theatre Department
September 5 – September 8,
Studio 77
Reviewed by Jono Griffith & Fiona McNamara