November 29, 2012

Bloody Murder

Last night was the premiere of The Hobbit, if you weren’t inconvenienced getting through town you would have seen it on TV or noticed the promotions for the last few weeks. In a much quieter way it was the opening night of Bloody Murder at the Hutt Repertory Theatre (Theatre 108). It was the first time the play has been performed outside of America and it opened to a full house.

It’s the classic setting for a good old English murder mystery; a house party with guests who are strangers to each other invited by a grand lady they have never met for who knows what purpose. The regular set of characters are assembled; the ingĂ©ne, the seductress, the wastrel, the faded actor, the foreigner, the maid.

Hutt Repertory’s production is by no means on par with the The Mousetrap* (the most recent theatre I have seen) but has its own charm. The choice of script was itself excellent; I don’t think many larger companies would dare to stage it. The show was carried by the strong female actors (Zen Nielson and Ruth Sarratt) or perhaps it was the strength of their characters – where does character end and actor begin? The set and costuming helped to create a timeless English residence for the characters to move about in.

Bloody Murder reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village with its capacity to confuse and entice as well as the ever present plot twists (but wait! there’s another one!). Much like The Village the entire storyline needs to be presented for any of the performance to be appreciated.

Ed Sala (the author) inspired by his own “odd, wayward thoughts,” Gosford Park, Agatha Christie and “other British murder mystery writers” has created something unique that looks at the very fabric of murder mystery – the plot, the characters and how it all seems a little contrived. It is a commentary on the relationship between creator and creation that almost waxes philosophical, but don't think it's dry - I spent a good half of the performance laughing.

Support community theatre and see Bloody Murder

*but much more affordable!

Showing: 28 November – 8 December
Price: $20/18
Bookings: or call 939 7529

November 19, 2012

The Mousetrap

Agatha Christie isn't known as the Queen of Crime for nothing. She is the most translated author, holds the record for the best selling mystery for And Then There were None and has the honour of being the playwright of the longest running play The Mousetrap. In its sixtieth year for the diamond jubilee (sound familiar? Who else had one of those this year?) the play is touring the world and it has come all the way down to New Zealand.

Christy Sullivan as Mollie Ralston
Courtesy of JPPR
The Mousetrap is a typical Christie offering; one location, a range of people from different backgrounds, secrets, disguises, murder and plot twists while on the surface it is lovely polite English life. The intricacies of her plots and characters are such that I find I can return to them sometime later as feel as though I was reading it afresh. I don’t want to ruin any of the mystery by revealing too much; in fact following tradition at the end of the performance the cast asked the audience to not divulge the ending.

The set was exquisite and genuine; it felt like there was real depth, rooms behind the one we could see. So detailed; down to the snow that swirls outside the window to the smoke stained paint at the top of the wood panelled walls. I imagine the set travels with the actors. The costumes added to the period while managing to not feel as though the costumers had been trying to hard. Overall the authenticity makes you feel as though you were in England, peeking through into the guesthouse living room. The St James Theatre is the perfect location for this piece of theatrical history.

The acting was compelling, or was it the storyline? The words were so well bought to life that it was all part of the same. All characters have their little quirks; my favourite was Christopher Wren whose bounces around the stage reminded me of a certain British comedian. My one complaint is that one of the actresses accents sounded forced but I soon forgot to notice as I was so caught up in the action.

If you like theatre, mystery, crime, drama, vintage… you will love this production. For this short time you have a chance to take part in a piece of history, seeing the worlds longest running play right here. It’s quite something to see it at home, in Wellington, but I still plan to watch one day in London.

Tickets: $65-110
Dates: 15-24 November
Venue: St James Theatre

November 9, 2012

Speights Ale House

If my husband had his way, eating out would involve fish ‘n’ chips at the beach. He thinks the more food you get, the better the deal. I’m a little pickier. I like my food to taste good, if there’s lots of it that’s a bonus. That is why our favourite place to eat at together is The Speight’s Ale House. My husband can have a plate full of food and I can satisfy my taste buds. However, if you are a real foodie looking for an exotic taste, this is not the place for you.

My other half and I also have different drinking habits. He sticks to beer, usually his favourite manly pint, whereas I like to experiment with different beers. I also enjoy matching my food with appropriate wine. Once again, that’s why we frequent The Speight’s Ale House. The menu even has suggestions for which beers go best with which meals.

So, if you are looking for a good kiwi meal in Thorndon or Petone make your way to the Speight’s Ale House.