Teen sav­agery hell of a tale

The real-life story of a ghastly mur­der in­spires a con­fronting per­for­mance, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

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.

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