First up, a brilliant interpretation of a Shakespeare’s Richard II.

Richard II is a few years into his kingship and is starting to flex his power. After some dubious decisions regarding his empire he takes the chance to seize land after the death of John of Gaunt  thus setting Gaunt’s child, Bolingbroke, against him. Richard seeks support from his allies but previous bad decisions means he is abandoned by those he thought he could trust.

Director James Cain directs a great cast including Hayden Frost (Richard II) and Maggie White (Henry Bolingbroke) as the main players. Frost is excellent as Richard II, showing the qualities that helped him be king as well as the reasons for his downfall. White is staunch and unyielding, relentless in the pursuit of the goal. There are plenty of other familiar Wellington faces on stage as well, all doing a sterling job. A scene between Patrick Davies (John of Gaunt) and Brianne Kerr (Duke of York) is one of my highlights as it shows the desperation the two have for their families and country in the face of Richard’s increasingly strange decisions.

Lucas Neal’s set uses the full height of the Propeller Stage which is great to see. (Try not to sit higher than 3 rows from the back if you can otherwise the lights will get in the way of the action.) It’s neatly lit by Tony Black’s design which includes some nifty hand held lights. Lisa Kiyomoto-Fink’s costumes highlight the factions & who supports who, helping to clarify the story.  Movement designer Maggie White gives us visual interest on the smallish set while Flinn Gendall’s sound design provides just enough atmosphere without distracting from the action.



Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Brother and sister, Vanya and Sonia, live in their parents’ old house which is now owned by Masha, their successful movie star sister. Masha visits for a weekend with her boyfriend Spike in order to go to a costume party down the road. Budding actress Nina visits and cleaner Cassandra has dire warnings for everyone.

Gavin Rutherford (Vanya) and Rachel Henry (Sonia) open the play with a wonderfully dreary morning routine. They have a good rapport that is accentuated when Erina Daniels (Cassandra) arrives on stage. She is showy and dramatic, a complete contrast to the other two who seem as if they don’t have a life outside of the house. Their life is interrupted by the arrival of Emma Kinane (Masha) with boyfriend Simon Leary (Spike) in tow. Kinane can switch character motivations quickly which she plays to full effect. Leary spends a lot of his time with his shirt off which pleased the students behind me. Finally Harriet Prebble (Nina) arrives on the scene like a stone dropped in a bucket of water sending ripples through the lives of the others. (Except Cassandra who is a marvellous law unto herself.)