Famous writer Colin Freeman and his girlfriend Alice set out to write the last great novel. A simple premise; themselves as characters and an unwitting stranger enticed into their web to act as protagonist. Enter Casey, a disillusioned young man, between relationships, looking for a way forward. But when these writers go off-script and their method writing unravels, it becomes very unclear who is using whom, and where this ménage is headed.
A love story as strange as any other, in this sunset chapter where three become two, on a collision course with destiny to the final full stop.
The characters Colin and Alice reminded me of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a classic couple in love with an old world feel about them. I kept their costumes in neutral beige tones and tan leathers, as if they holiday in Africa and shop at sweet little Deli’s in back streets. Casey is an outside influence, of a different era, and contrasts with a black motorcycle jacket and smart, modern, fitted clothing. The Stage design mirrors this, the stage is raw and unfinished with unapologetic textures, defined by it’s sparse additions of black props. Centre stage is a chaise structure.
My decision to stage In – The – Round was from the want to culminate an intimate proximity to the audience and to exacerbate the feel of an unfinished work room. By lengthening one walkway the feel of a front door was created, by cutting off another walkway it created an unknown entrance to the outside world – where Casey shoots a gun. Raising the stage was beneficial to sightlines as well as tricking the eye to buy into a floating, seeming unreal space, the use of white doors hinted towards that iconic door from ‘The Twilight Zone’ crossed with classic, clean, modern architecture.
‘It’s the middle-class girl in me that loves the set of this play the moment I sit down: the blonde wood of the stage boards, the stark clarity of three white doors, and the the central divan, draped with shagpile. Everything is like the display bedroom in a linen store, down to the boutique chocolates at the foot of the bed. We are bathed in a soft peachy glow, which not only makes one feel a little drunk at the sight of other people’s faces, but it’s also jolly helpful if you are the kind of bourgeois bastard who likes to write in your moleskin during the show. For once, I can actually see my notes.
Tonight, I am seeing Loving Kurt Vonnegut, a fresh work from writer Gary Stalker, and directed by acting heavyweight Paul Gittens. This is the kind of play made for people like me: English grads with a taste for clean design principles. First of all – I loved Kurt Vonnegut’sSlaughterhouse 5, and second, I’m a sucker for Christine Urquhart’s in-the-round staging and modernist eye. I am not disappointed – this turns out to be one ‘beautiful’ drama.’
– Jess Holly Bates, Theatre Scenes
‘…aesthetically this work comes together exceptionally well. Both Christine Urquhart (stage and costume designer) and Ruby Reihana-Wilson (lighting designer) have developed a sophisticated palette of beige, white and sand and these support the ephemerality of the world Stalker has created.’
– Dione Joseph, Theatre View
‘There is a certain excited anticipation about going to see a show that is presented in the round. Under the direction of seasoned theatre hand Paul Gittins, the narrative unravels in a way that is always conscious and takes full advantage of the multi-dimensional nature of the performance space. There really isn’t a ‘bad place’ to sit as the staging is such that you never feel excluded from the action onstage… Loving Kurt Vonnegut is a well-crafted and absolutely absorbing piece, staged and performed masterfully. It is utterly riveting, unexpectedly thought provoking and will keep you easily enthralled from start to finish.’
– Faith – Ashley Wong, KUWNZ
director Paul Gittens
playwright Gary Stalker
lighting designer Ruby Reihana-Wilson
venue Basement Theatre, Auckland
photographer Josh Griggs