Small-town mys­tery com­ing to the city

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALIS­TER BROWNE

The bright lights of Tai­hape are com­ing to Palmer­ston North. The play, that is. The 50-minute one-han­der, The Bright Lights of Tai­hape, writ­ten and per­formed by Palmer­ston North ex­pat Loren Ma­son, will be on at The Dark Room, on the cor­ner of Church and Pitt streets, from Oc­to­ber 5 to 7.

De­scribed as a ‘‘comedic char­ac­ter-driven story’’, it tells of what hap­pens in Tai­hape in the lead-up to the fa­mous an­nual Gum­boot Day, when all the town’s gum­boots are found to have van­ished, be­lieved stolen.

Such an act of das­tardly sab­o­tage can­not, of course, be al­lowed to go un­pun­ished, so a search is im­me­di­ately in­sti­gated for both per­pe­tra­tor and gum­boots.

And in the best tra­di­tion of who­dunits, sus­pects mul­ti­ply, rang­ing from a lo­cal tear­away who has form, as they say in po­lice cir­cles, to the mayor’s ‘‘tof­fee-nosed daugh­ter who is home from board­ing school’’.

Ma­son, 28, who went to act­ing school in Auck­land, gets to play eight char­ac­ters dur­ing the play, which is also sched­uled for three nights in New Ply­mouth, where Ma­son is now liv­ing.

She said she hoped to put it on in Tai­hape as well, but that de­pended on find­ing a suit­able venue – the Ma­jes­tic The­atre has been men­tioned – and tim­ing.

Ma­son said she was in­spired to write about gum­boots by what she saw and heard dur­ing road trips through Tai­hape. ‘‘And there was this small town thing, where ev­ery­one seems to know ev­ery­one else.’’

So you put the two to­gether and the ge­n­e­sis of Bright Lights be­gan form­ing.

Ma­son said she hadn’t been to a Gum­boot Day at Tai­hape, but now she was liv­ing closer to the town, hoped to rem­edy that.

An ear­lier play she wrote, Tick­ing Time Bomb, also ex­plored the odd and the quirky lives of small town char­ac­ters, based around the watch shop her fa­ther used to own on Palmer­ston North’s Broad­way Av­enue.

Bright Lights is di­rected by Tr­ish Phe­lan, who also worked with Ma­son dur­ing Tick­ing Time Bomb and web-se­ries Game Over.

Her direct­ing cred­its also in­clude Smashed Palace for Sky TV and Bo­gans for TV2. Other the­atre shows in­clude Touch Wood and In­tro­duc­ing Anna.

There’s das­tardly sab­o­tage in Tai­hape when the town’s gum­boots are stolen.

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