Reviews: The Biggest, and Central
Two shows featuring asshole* men. What are the odds? The odds are good and pretty entertaining.
The Biggest by Jamie McCaskill
Stu has had a terrible accident, writing off the car and the boat. His mates – Walter, Pat, and Mick – decide to enter a fishing competition to win him a new boat. Local fishing champion Jan Thinks this is a stupid idea and will do almost anything to prevent them winning.
It’s a lot of fun to watch experienced actors at their game and Jim Moriarty (Walter), Peter Hambleton (Pat), Tim Gordon (Stu), and Apirana Taylor (Mick) look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage. Moriarty is fidgety and cheeky; Hambleton solid and fussy; Gordon slightly exasperated at the situation he (Stu) finds himself in; Taylor quiet and self contained. Joining them are Wesley Dowdell (Jan) and Moana Ete (Cassie). Dowdell is wonderfully annoying and Ete is particularly good when she loses patience.
There’s lots of swearing and banter in dialogue that captures the essence of how rural men talk with their peers. The characters are simultaneously honest about their feelings (“Why are you such an asshole?”) while hiding some of the more personal aspects of their lives. Some of these aspects are revealed which clarifies (some) of the behaviour.
- The Biggest, on at the Hannah Playhouse to 12 November 2016
Central by Dave Armstrong
Cherie and Michael are writing a small film together until Michael gets called back to big budget Hollywood. He took the job to pay local builder Brian for the new deck addition. Brian thinks he knows cleaner Karen even though she says he doesn’t. Cherie just wants Michael home.
Daniel Williams’ set and costume design provide an expansively sterile living space for the action. Claire Waldron (Cherie) and Tom Trevella (Michael) do a good job of being a long established couple working on a project together. Trevella is mostly bluster in his fairly broad portrayal of Michael. Waldron manages to give Cherie layers while bringing some heart to the stage. Alex Greig (Brian) does his best bloke impression but manages to rise out of that in the last few scenes. Harriet Prebble (Karen) lurks around the edges of scenes which is really all she’s required to do.
The playwright states in the programme “I believe a good play doesn’t give answers to its audience but asks questions of it.” The script has some interesting things to say about the tensions between certain types of economic development and the idea of 100% green NZ, the very wealthy and the not so well off, and what it takes to succeed.
- Central, on at Circa Theatre to 12 November 2016
*as described by the other characters pretty early on in the piece. This isn’t a spoiler for either show.