Characters sparkle in Taihape play
Taihape - the self proclaimed gumboot capital of the world - a star of national radio weather forecasts where it often gets a mention, is much less prominent when it comes to starring on stage.
Cartoonist and playwright Tom Scott co-wrote a 1970s university revue called the Last Maxina in Taihape (think The Last Tango in Paris), and gumboot throwing aside, that’s been about it - until now.
For The Bright Lights of Taihape, Palmerston North-raised performer and playwright Loren
Mason has invented ‘Taihape gothic’.
Relayed using quick-fire character changes, flashbacks and clever shadow-play, Mason’s quirky Twin Peaks style concoction of caricature and contrived conundrum makes for an attention-holding and engaging enough piece.
Its nine broadly sketched archetypical rural characters are deftly woven into a 45-minute yarn based around a great gumboot heist carried out during the leadup to Taihape’s annual Gumboot Day.
Mason’s clutch of byturns earthy, gossipy, taciturn, seductive, chirpy, lispy and slightly loopy protagonists tumble about in a truth-is-stranger-thanfiction unless fiction is just too friggin’ far-fetched even for truth, type tale.
Pub narrator, squinny-eyed Crazy Kev kicks things off by recalling an unsolved farm shooting, and how it relates to current mysterious happenings on Taihape’s back hill farms.
Mason’s other characters each have their distinctive attributes from mayor Keith’s lisp to Lynette’s shocking pink G-string and Dougal’s ‘‘hose’’, in a romp that could almost be subtitled Do Aliens Dream of Electric Fences?.
While perhaps not helping thematically to bridge the urban rural divide, or overturn city stereotypical perceptions of country folk, Mason’s play attracted excellent houses and a positive response during its short Palmerston North season.