Lighthearted variety in three short plays

By Otago Daily Times | Posted: Wednesday September 18, 2019

Barbara Frame reviews Cold Season, The Poisoners and Noble Endurance

LIKE other plays in the Unesco Cities of Literature Short Play Festival, these appear in a bracket of three.

The first is the absurdist Cold Season, by Finnius Teppett. One of the play’s two women characters (Willa, played by Jacinta Muir) goes outside on a cold night, has an odd experience, and decides she’s turning into a heap of disintegrating leaves. The other (Leanne, played by Ella Yiannett) forms a motherly attachment to a house plant, and knits it a bonnet to keep it warm. Meanwhile, the play’s two men, Thomas and Doc (Cole Thompson and Quinn McHardy) hover about anxiously, but have no idea what to do.

The second was my favourite. The Poisoners, by Steven Glavey, is a spoof on Elizabethan tragedy. Elements include a murder plot, everything going wrong and two unlabelled bottles of wine, one containing a deadly poison. Language goes from mockearly modern English to 21st century and back again, sometimes in the same sentence.

The plot is unremarkable and the ending predictable, but the actors have a lot of fun with the parody, the language, and the general silliness. Courtney Drummond plays parricidal Lord Malateste, Isaac Martyn dastardly Philaster, Nicole Jenkins’ sweet appearance and expressive eye movements enliven her performance as the subversive Cariola, Anson Ng gathers some of the best laughs as the servant used as a wine guineapig, and Thomas Makinson plays the Duke, the object of the foul conspiracy.

Finally, Noble Endurance, by Jessica Andrewartha, is about three members of the Endurance crew, trapped in Antarctic ice. As cold, boredom and other people’s idiosyncracies threaten to drive everyone mad, two of the crew devise a practical joke. Isaac Martyn plays Leonard Hussey, the expedition’s meteorologist, Sophie Graham is biologist Bobbie Clark and Thomas Makinson reappears, this time as Frank Wild, the second in command.

Overall, a lighthearted hour and ahalf, broadening the experience of local actors and greatly entertaining the 50 or so audience members.

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