Gritty and grip­ping premiere

The Tribune (NZ) - - PERFORMANCE -

In­tense and in­trigu­ing, gritty and grip­ping, the premiere of Angie Far­row’s full length play The Politi­cian’s Wife was given the multi-me­dia treat­ment by di­rec­tor Stephen Bain.

The jar­ring edgy im­ages that were some­times live-pro­jected on both sides of the in-the-round pre­sen­ta­tion em­pha­sised the im­me­di­acy of the pro­duc­tion. The Politi­cian’s Wife may have been set in an An­tipodean type coun­try in the not too dis­tant fu­ture, but its con­tent is about now.

Be­fore us are the stark real­i­ties of Les­bos in the Mediter­ranean, of Aus­tralia’s Manus and Christ­mas Is­land de­ten­tion cen­tres. Re­ally, this is a drama­tised de­bate about the world refugee cri­sis brought to life by four ac­tors play­ing mul­ti­ple roles..

Kim, a former nurse, and now the rich, bored and emo­tion­ally stunted wife of an up-and-com­ing hard-line anti-im­mi­gra­tion po­lit­i­cal can­di­date en­coun­ters a former hos­pi­tal col­league.

Jasper works at the off­shore im­mi­gra­tion camp. Kim, tired of play­ing con­sort to her hus­band’s po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions, de­cides to live a dou­ble life, se­cretly pulling shifts at the camp. It’s a move that doesn’t just com­pro­mise her pub­lic life. She be­comes per­son­ally in­volved in the in­creas­ingly des­per­ate lives of the de­tainees, and her choices have con­se­quences she can only es­cape by mak­ing a deal.

Like a well edited TV drama, the play moves at a fast clip cour­tesy of quick cos­tume and char­ac­ter changes. Not all th­ese were on the money. In places, more nu­anced per­for­mances were needed to pre­serve to­tal au­then­tic­ity, but by fo­cus­ing on in­di­vid­ual sto­ries, the pro­duc­tion suc­cess­fully con­veyed the bleak real­i­ties of lives lost in limbo, and the cal­lous­ness of po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions.

The play’s short sea­son here be­fore open­ing in Wellington, couldn’t have been more timely or it’s themes more cur­rent. Pro­duc­tion of The Politi­cian’s Wife co­in­cided with news of more Syr­i­ans be­ing dis­placed from the city of Fallujah, three more refugee fam­i­lies ar­riv­ing to live in Palmer­ston North, and week­end cel­e­bra­tions to mark World Refugee Day.

Palmer­ston North play­wright, Angie Far­row.

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