A man and a woman hug

Two plays on now in Wellington – one a story pre-conception, the other a story post-death. Both are very good.

Review: Lungs

A couple are thinking about having a child. They’re pretty sure they’re good people but a whole new person is a pretty big responsibility. What about climate change? What about their carbon footprint? Will they decide to have a child? Yes. No? Maybe.

Aidee Walker and Arthur Meek star in this terrifying play about consciously having children. Although the discussions and events happen in time and space, they are deliberately untethered in performance. The stage is defined by paint and there are no props. (There’s a faint soundscape (by Emi Pogoni) and subtle lighting changes (designer Glenn Ashworth) which are not linked to (assumed) scene changes.) We watch one long conversation as it winds through different aspects of the pros and cons of having children. Walker is often wonderfully fast talking – waving her hands, agitated – whirling around Meek as he stands there. His stillness is variously amused, stunned, shocked, and grounded. It often feels like he’s playing the straight man to Walker’s emotional star. They rarely touch each other – sometimes aren’t even looking at each other – yet are connected in the relationship they are portraying. The moments when they touch, or Walker is still and Meek moves, are all the more affecting because of the contrast. Director Dean Hewison keeps the movement and cadence going which provides extra interest to the words in the script.

This is more than a play about deciding to have a child, it’s about the ‘how’ in a relationship when thinking about the future. Great stuff.

  • Lungs at Circa Theatre to 19 November 2016

Man wearing winter clothes is sitting on the floor

Review: Fred is cold

Fred is a fridge who is currently installed in a student flat. He can talk – but only Josh can hear him. Josh doesn’t even live there. He’s only there because his Mum died and his girlfriend Sasha has invited him to stay. Sasha wants Josh to react to his Mum’s death. Somehow.  Anyhow.

This time the stage is busy and realistic. (Design by Michael Trigg.) There are bookshelves and a couch, posters on the wall, a full clothes airing rack. In the middle is Fred, the fridge. Liam Kelly is Fred, attached to the fridge and confined by its boundaries. Kelly does great work. He’s present in every scene whether he’s speaking or not. He’s sweet and naive which plays against Keegan Bragg as Josh. Bragg plays Josh as slow-moving, slightly resentful. This is a character coping with death by treating every event as if it doesn’t matter. Sylvie McCreanor as Sasha is there to provide a bit of impetus to the action. She’s best when she’s on stage by herself making plans, being dynamic. This is all lost when she’s on stage with Bragg which shows the nothing and emptiness of emotion that grief can bring. Writer Ben Wilson makes a brief appearance as Elliot, Josh’s brother to say some pointed remarks then leave.  This scene was a bit like the musical interludes that at first made no sense and then became some of the most lively and beautiful parts of the show. Director Neenah Dekkers-Reihana has created some wonderful set pieces which lifts this show into something special.