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Successful season at Regent

September 25, 2015

A sell out season of the play was well received at The Regent, Greymouth. Karen Grant’s review for Theatre View is posted below.

Video excerpts can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnaqX6LVixI

The draft  touring schedule is as follows: Return season at Regent, February 19,20

Hokitika, Seaview Hall, March 5th

Westport NBS Theatre, March 16th

Motueka (venue to be decided), April 2nd.

And we hope to play the Nelson Fringe Festival, early in May.

“A Brief History of Madness” is the new theatre piece by Kiwi/Possum Productions. Playwright Paul Maunder is known for his style of intimate staging. In this production he further challenges his cast as they must explore the realms of madness with antics and complicated monologues delivered within touching distance of an audience of friends and others from the local community.
The stage is where the action is, and the audience follows to the spartan set that brings us into the Seaview Asylum in the 1930’s, a time when the mad and the inconvenient were hidden away from ‘normal’ society. In this production Paul explores this concept. We are the privileged onlookers, carefully escorted and allowed to observe Freudian psychoanalysis in action; the new technique to unlock and understand disorders of mind.
As the stories of each are revealed, the interest in these stories is deepened by knowing that they are drawn from the history of the West Coast. We hear of lives damaged by tortured pasts, and of freedom denied by others with power or money. And as we listen we become aware of the ravings and footsteps of others moving in, around and outside the room we are in. It all feels a bit claustrophobic and knotted sheets hanging around the set reinforce the thought of escape.
The second part of the production is set in a modern hospital and explores the “Seaview Project” where the insane are now seen as a commodity to invest in and to shape into a profitable workforce. The goal is no longer investigating and understanding the insane. Now the objective is to categorise the unwanted behavior and eventually hit on the right drug or fashionable treatment that will stupefy it out of existence.
I really enjoyed this production and while I thought all of the cast presented well, Mikaere Hanna and Jason Johnson deserve special mention as they were both outstanding in their roles. The action and dialogue held my interest throughout, there was a nice cup of tea at half-time, and from the stories that were told, I want to know more about the threads of history woven into them.
Chatting to others at half-time and after the show confirmed to me that many of us feel we have see-sawed out-of-kilter at some time or other. Accepting this should be the new norm. Why force ourselves to conform to a bland majority, devoid of independent thought or action? If we continue to pluck the fluff and stray threads from a rich tapestry, what would we have left?
Paul Maunder and his cast have examined madness and normality, and delivered a moving experience that makes you wonder at the morality of it all. The production finishes strongly with the entire cast singing beautifully. With spirits lifted again, we return our empty tea-cups to the trolley and head home.
Only two more shows to go this week at the Regent Theatre in Greymouth, tonight and Saturday night, 7:30pm start.
Script: Paul Maunder
Cast: Heather Fletcher, Jason Johnson, Frank Wells, Caroline Selwood, Paul Maunder, Elisa Wells, Mikaere Hanna, Francis Darwen and Stasha-lee Beukes.
Design and lighting: Paul Kearns.

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