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THE FAMILIAR REFRESHED

Print Version

MUNTED
Head Writer: Victoria Abbott
Researchers: Victoria Abbott and Jackie Shaw
Devisers: Victoria Abbott, Jackie Shaw, Kate McGill, Liz Carpenter, Alana Kelly, Frith Horan, Emma Draper and Taylor Hall
Director: Kate McGill
a new Documentary Theatre Project
presented by Bare Hunt Collective

at Rangi Ruru Girls School, Merivale Lane, Christchurch
From 20 Jun 2012 to 23 Jun 2012

Reviewed by Lindsay Clark, 20 Jun 2012


It is a curious feeling, experiencing a documentary piece of theatre from the inside. Bare Hunt's audience in Christchurch will be a heartbeat closer than most to their verbatim representation, based on interviews held only a few weeks after the city's tragic earthquake in February 2011. This is not to say that there will be little universal engagement with the very human voices and embodiments they give us, but that there is an immediate, familiar frisson as places and details embedded in our local consciousness are revisited on the stage.

It is cuppa theatre. Cuppas in the foyer, and homely stacks of cups and saucers and teapots dressing the stage as an unmistakeable indicator of the person to person accounts we'll hear. Even the media and cameraman material will be on a personal, low key level, spared sensation or spin, because the biggest horror of all, as revealed by the edited material of the piece, was and is the new normality emerging from that day.

Sometimes we are witnessing an interview, often it is direct address as if we are just sharing one of those 'Where were you?' times. Most entertainingly, there are snippets of interaction where different members of a family share the account and their varying perspectives bring the humour of down to earth domesticity.

The constant change of focus and face is a clever strategy to manage what could easily have become, for all its local relevance, a repetitive exercise. At one hour's stretch we have enough time to revisit several 'characters' and to become familiar with the personal experiences of others. They are both fresh and familiar.

Thirteen such characters are convincingly established by the three actors: Victoria Abbott, Frith Horan and Jackie Shaw. With intelligent economy, they do not mimic in full, but select key features such as voice or posture or gesture to support the language. It is in the truthful delivery of verbatim language, pauses and all, that the play gains most strength. Under Kate McGill's direction its orchestration is imperceptible but effective and transitions between accounts unfailingly fluid and purposeful.

After the performance, responses and reports are invited. It is a tribute to the warmth and community spirit generated by the group that most of the audience wanted to go on with the experience. 
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See also reviews by:
 Robert Gilbert
 John Smythe
 Laurie Atkinson (The Dominion Post);
 Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
 Stephen Austin
 Matt Baker (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);
 Mark Houlahan
 Holly Shanahan