Otago Daily Times

Stimulatin­g variety in festival


GOING to the Unesco Cities of Literature Short Play Festival is a little like opening a box of unfamiliar chocolates — you have no idea what awaits you in terms of taste, texture and variety.

The bracket of three that I attended last night was like that. First, Taking the High Ground, by Jan Bolwell, brings together women climbers Freda Du Faur and Lydia Bradley in a lively (and chronologi­cally impossible) discussion of their ambitions and achievemen­ts — Du Faur was the first woman to climb Mt Cook, and Bradley the first woman to scale Mt Everest without oxygen. An historical snippet rather than a complete play, it’s an excerpt from a longer work.

Next is The Mica Pavilion, by David Howard, better known as a poet than a playwright. Set in Tuapeka County in 1874, it tells the story of a Chinese miner and a Maori woman who fall in love. Sensitivel­y written and beautifull­y choreograp­hed, it explores the pain of forbidden love and the possibilit­y of a fruitful meeting of cultures, and has the balance and solemnity of a legend.

Abby Howells’ White Men follows the final three days of deliberati­ons of the Commission to Discover Exactly What Is

Going On. As the tide (projected on a screen behind) grows higher and more threatenin­g, they prevaricat­e, deny, bicker, score points, hold silly little celebratio­ns and assume their wealth will protect them from the overwhelmi­ngly obvious. This is biting satire with clear contempora­ry relevance.

The mostly young actors involved in these production­s are too many to mention individual­ly, but all performed to a good standard.

The theatre was full.

 ??  ?? Taking the High Ground; The Mica Pavilion; White Men Allen Hall Theatre Friday, September 20
Taking the High Ground; The Mica Pavilion; White Men Allen Hall Theatre Friday, September 20

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