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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Winter

Written by Diane Spodarek
Directed by Sally Richards
At Bats
31 July 31 – 9 August

The flyer and programme notes for Winter seem to emphasise the cultural differences of the show’s two protagonists, one a Kiwi and the other an American, and the effect this has on their romantic relationship. Sure these aspects were featured, but for me they seemed rather secondary, and worked more to give the play a structure while it explored greater issues of existentialism and being. Winter may not be faultless in either script or execution, but it certainly left me chewing a few deep and challenging thoughts.

Winter opens with Crystal (played by Melissa Billington) relating a more and more far-fetched story about her walk along the beach while her other half, Horse (played by Nigel Edgecombe) becomes increasingly agitated by her obvious lack of concern for his feelings. This sets up a running motif of dreams and fantasy as well as what, for me, becomes a theme of the struggle, even impossibility, to communicate coherently and sensitively. It is in this latter point which I detect an invocation of absurdist influences such as Beckett and Ionesco.

The show focusses at several occasions on the disconnection between words and their potential meanings. Why the contraction ‘cuppa’ ? Why do we ask for a cup of tea, why not just ask for tea? Characters would blurt statements which bordered on nonsensical. “This is a third-world country,” says Horse of New Zealand. How so? Many of these moments are framed as a clash between cultures, but I felt as though the play were treading something deeper and more profound than this surface reading would entail.

Production-wise, the play holds together. The set recalls a typical hippy/artist bach somewhere up the coast, and includes threateningly high stacks of books and surreal artworks. I was glad that someone with a natural American accent had been cast in the role of Crystal. However I found a few of the lighting changes a little stilted, and the show could have benefited from smoother lighting transitions in less obvious places.

During an early diatribe on the philosophical nature of dreams, using the well-known ‘how do we know this isn’t really a dream’ trick, Crystal demonstrates with her hands the universal symbol of the dream, a sign which is reincorporated during the show’s final moments to symbolise Crystal’s questioning of, even incredulity towards, her life in New Zealand. For me, Winter is like an absurdist comedy, teetering between reality and a world of dreams and fantasies. If anything, it’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who finds the difference between the two foggy at times.

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  1. nora says:

    “For me, Winter is like an absurdist comedy, teetering between reality and a world of dreams and fantasies. If anything, it’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who finds the difference between the two foggy at times.”
    BRAVO! An intelligent reviewer has seen the “absurdist” humor and value of mystery in this play, in the question of reality vs dream, in the inadequacy of language for communication and relatedness between people. I salute your insight. I enjoyed this play immensely and have been dismayed at the lack of brain cells many of the reviewers have displayed.

  2. debs says:

    what a fantastic review- as always.
    Jackson’s reviews are fast becoming the only ones worth reading. It seems every other reviewer is starting to get a bit bored of theatre and are only skimming the fine surface of theatrical work. We all know there’s more to it that that- unless your sipping chardonnay at circa clucking under your breath about how fantastic the national party is.. slight tangent there… back to the point….

    Jackson’s are currently the only reviews with any insight or that display any passion or fascination for theatre.

    For me, Winter was an incredibly beautiful and moving piece. I left inspired, as did many other people I talked to about the show.

    Thanks to Jackson, Diane, Sally, Melissa and Nigel and the co-op for your work- it’s much appreciated.

  3. Jackson says:

    awww :::gushes:::

    As a performer also, I know how it feels to receive a review – you hang on every word, plunging it for every little bit of information you can glean. So I certainly feel its important to take the job seriously, I owe it to all of the critics I’ve had over the years.

    It’s a funny thing as a reviewer, though, because you care just as much about how your reviews are received as you do being a performer receiving a review. So, thanks for the great comments – they’re appreciated :)

  4. Gibbon says:

    oh nige is back greaaaaaaaaaaat

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