June 25, 2015

The 39 Steps

The opening night of Stagecraft's production of The 39 Steps was sold out, if everyone attending enjoyed it as much as I did, the rest of the season will be too. I admit to being a fan of Stagecraft but on the evening in question I did not want to brave the Wellington weather, I was sick, cold and tired. It’s a testament to how good the production was that even though I felt awful I genuinely enjoyed myself.

A minimalist, adaptable set of what appears to be cardboard boxes, a lamp and solitary chair take the action from a London flat, to a train, to the Scottish highlands. The minimalist cast take on many roles with main character being the only one static. Stagecraft regulars will recognise Lydia Harris in the more serious female roles.

So what are the 39 Steps? The secret won’t be revealed till the very end of the play. Based on a novel and movie this most recent interpretation is a comedy of farcical proportions. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Which character is that actor playing? Wait, didn't that guy just get shot? It'll keep you guessing.

Take note of the warning about strobe lighting. Dry ice is also used during the performance.

Tickets: $15-25
Performances: 24th - 27th June 7.30pm; 28th June 3pm; 30th June 6.30pm; 2nd - 4th July 7.30pm

June 13, 2015

Gayby Baby

I managed to squeeze in one viewing before the Documentary Edge Festival finishes tomorrow. All films are being screened at The Roxy in Miramar rather than scattered throughout the city as in previous years. The cinema is beautifully restored and the food interesting without being pretentious. It has enjoyed a huge rebirth since Weta workshops swapped their patronage from The Embassy.  In choosing my one film I wanted something that would be entertaining as well as meaningful, so no fluff films. I wanted to avoid anything harrowing that might give me nightmares or leave me frustrated with the state of the world, this left out most political items. Of the almost 60 festival offerings I chose Gaby Baby.

The film follows four children of same sex couples; three boys, one girl; three female same sex couples, one male same sex couple. By the title you might think the film is about how same sex couples have children - adoption, surrogacy, donation - but it is about the children being raised by same sex couples. Interestingly their parentage is only background; the children themselves are the focus of the piece.

It is astounding that children often have greater insight than their parents. A conservative christian mother encourages her son to ask questions, going so far as to set up an awkward interview with the pastor, before leaving the church that rejects her and her relationship. To him, the answer is obvious. He loves his mother; so should God. He writes a speech to give to the Prime Minister about same sex marriage but, normally articulate and confident, is too flustered but says it quite calmly to the cameras waiting outside. The same sex marriage debate is particularly relevant in Australia now (thankfully we have it sorted here) as a married heterosexual couple plan to protest any change in legislation by divorcing.

What comes through very strongly as that these are normal families dealing with normal family problems. A child is sick, learning is hard, money is tight, there are aspirations to be met. It strikes me as unfair that some of these children also have to deal with prejudice. Although it never actually rears its ugly head it is waiting in the background influencing choices about where to go to school and what to tell people about your family. There is love here; between a parent and child, between child and new parent, between partners and most touchingly between siblings.

The four storylines converge at the Sydney mardi gras where the children are shown just being kids, being themselves, as part of their family and part of their community.

You can find out more about the film on their website.