Teen savagery hell of a tale
The real-life story of a ghastly murder inspires a confronting performance, writes
ETER Jackson’s award-winning movie Heavenly Creatures was the film that launched Kate Winslet’s stellar career. The same sensational and true story is also the focus of Michelanne Forster’s play Daughters of Heaven.
Directed by Pam Sexton, the confronting play, which opens at Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport on Saturday, follows the story of two welleducated teenagers, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who committed a savage murder in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1954. Their trial shocked a nation, raising questions around the world about the girls’ relationship, sanity.
The play is based on extensive interviews with witnesses and on trial transcripts. Sexton did considerable research before tackling the show.
‘‘Independently, the girls were subject to chronic childhood illnesses and left alone, or with strangers in various medical facilities, for long periods of time, free to indulge in their fantasies without too much interaction from anyone,’’ she says.
‘‘They were both avid story and journal writers, a habit that would eventually convict them.’’
She says it was unsurprising the girls found affinity with one another.
‘‘They were aloof from the world, creating their own stories, religion and deities,’’ she says.
‘‘Their togetherness was threatened when Juliet’s family planned to leave New Zealand.
‘‘Pauline’s mother refused to let her daughter go with the Hulmes, so the girls decided something had to be done. This led to the terrible murder.’’
The audience hears the evidence, learns about the girls’ fantasy life and gets the inside story from witnesses.
The talented cast is lead by Courtney Bell as Juliet Hulme and Alexandra Nel as Pauline Parker.
stars Courtney Bell and Alexandra Nel.
Juliet’s English parents, Hilda and university professor Henry Hulme, are played by Deborah Coulls and Paul Walters. Walter Perry, Hilda’s lover, is played by Doug Harvey. Pam Barber appears as the Hulme’s housekeeper, Bridget, who often speaks directly to the audience.
Juliet Hulme is now Anne Perry, a well-known crime writer. Pauline Parker, now Hilary Nathan, lives as a recluse. She has never spoken about events as they unfolded.
The two have never reconnected, although both live Britain.
opens on Saturday at the Gold Coast Little Theatre. It plays Thursday to Saturdays at 8pm until May 5 with Sunday matinees on April 22 and 29. Tickets are $25.