Uther Dean Reads 300 Haiku is indeed that. 300 haiku in a row.

But what the title doesn’t tell you is the wandering narrative Uther tells through the 300 haiku. “These haiku were written by Peter the Poet,” he says. Yes, we agree, though I’m not convinced.

Peter is desperately in love with Janine, who is a witch. Peter’s love is strong, aching heart and sadness through his poems. Janine has spells to cast, though Peter wants more. Their love is strong, but it feels wrong.

Uther’s haiku are an exercise in melancholy, a grasp at something too close but also too far away. Though the show is layered with jokes – my favourite haiku was about talkback radio – and interludes, where he breaks from the script, it leaves the audience burdened with a curious emotion.

What is art?

What is soul?

What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me.)

Uther Dean Reads 300 Haiku has an incredible thoughtfulness, a worldliness belied by its simplistic retelling. It’s thoroughly human, throughout our melancholia and mistakes, and I don’t think we can wish for more than that.


Uther Dean Reads 300 Haiku is on at BATS Theatre, Wellington, until the 23rd of March. Get your tickets here.