First play of the new theatre season is on at The Globe. Quilt, the New Zealand amateur premiere of a boutique musical is reviewed
Quilt Jim Morgan, Michael Stockler, Merle Hubbard, John Schak Director Andrea Maxwell Musical director Roger Buchanan Globe 2, February 11 – 27 Reviewed by Richard Mays
Memorials need not be set in stone. Quilt is an uplifting musical memorial to those infected and affected by the AIDs virus since the 1980s.
Based on real-life stories and incidents, this New Zealand non-professional premiere not only captures the period essence of the time, but becomes a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, and to love.
Quilt comes from the late 80s Names Project, where those touched by loss brought about by AIDs were encouraged (and still are – the quilt collection dis- played in Washington DC, has over 48,000 panels) to make a memorial quilt to remember those who died.
First time director Andrea Maxwell has created a boutique studio production which suits an ensemble style show that retains elements of revue. The characters recount their stories in a series of vignettes.
While some of these are oneoffs, several of the characters thread themselves through the singing narrative, and overlap with the stories and situations of others.
Karen, in a frizzy wig, is warmly and wonderfully pitched by Joanne Sale as naive, dizzy and klutzy, but is a master of comic song. Superbly timed, Karen’s Song is reprised at intervals throughout the show as she struggles to master making a quilt for her friend Dr Tedd.
In another strand of the story, Peter Sugden’s Wes, a vol- unteer at the Gay and Lesbian Centre, touchingly reviews the loss of Phillip his partner, and his intention to commit suicide.
There are cleverly crafted cameos from Ian Harman as ‘Tinkerbell’, and the one-sided ‘duel’ with the mother of his partner, played with grim denial by Wendy Newth, is one of the more affecting moments.
There’s a compelling monologue from Damian Thorne as a laconic, theatrical, self-aware drag queen who collects outfits worn by glamorous female filmstars.
The quilts specially made for the production star in their own right.
Accompanied by the restrained keyboards of Roger Buchanan, not everything here works, but there’s plenty that does, admirably reflecting words from the show’s opening chorus ‘‘Out of something terrible, there is something beautiful’’.
Wendy Newth as Mrs Polaski and Ian Harman as ‘Tinkerbell’ her son’s partner in a scene from Quilt.