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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Young and Hungry – Festival of New Theatre

The Young and Hungry Festival is an annual event which sees 15- to 25-year-olds take to BATS with three new one-hour works by local playwrights. The production teams are mentored by industry professionals and accomplished directors, with the aim of nurturing young talent in all areas of play-creation. As seems to be tradition, one play’s great, one’s not great, and one is okay.

Dragonlore, by Nic Sampson, directed by Richard Dey, is an absolute delight. The set by Lauren Stewart is creative and functional, as is Charlotte Pleasants’ lighting design. Some of the initial dialogue was hard to catch, but what unfolds is a hilarious romp with some (mostly) endearing geeks and an outsider in the world of ‘larping’ (Live Action Role-Playing). The script is tight and manages to explain all that the audience needs to know about this branch of underground entertainment, and is very funny. The excellent cast serve the script well, and combine Sampson’s clever dialogue with their expert comic timing. The plot climax is a little bizarre, but that is the only time I feared that Dragonlore might be running away on itself. Well written, directed, designed and acted.

Atlas/Mountains/Dead Butterflies, by Joseph Harper, directed by Ralph Upton, can take pride in its clever direction and the enthusiasm of its cast. Yet the plot is hard to grasp and nothing really seems to happen in the two worlds that we have onstage: that of Rhys (Aaron Pyke) and Phoebe (Isobel MacKinnon), and Atlas (Ryan Knighton). Atlas’s story was intriguing and beautifully rendered. The other characters present a quirky mêlée of ideas and issues around saving Earth, national pride, and being a student, but it has no flow or resolution, and it is hard to invest in the lives of these at-times annoying characters. Ash James and Michael Hebenton are wonderful as the dripping taps, and bring a much-needed sense of delight to a play that has very high aims but whose script struggles to execute them.

Trashbag, by Georgina Titheridge, directed by Alison Walls, is entertaining yet chaotic. It is fun, but it is a tired concept, especially to us university students (and to Titheridge whose previous Young and Hungry piece, Sit On It, was a hilarious take on a nightclub bathroom). The classy set and soundtrack are about the only clues we get as to time and place of the party—the relationships between some of the characters and their ages were hard to decipher. There is little character development, and I was left with a mental list of questions about their circumstances. However, Maddy (Georgia Pringle), Otto (Matthew Crooymans) and Eric (Christopher Watts) push the play forward, and we manage to get quite a few laughs at the other characters’ expense. There are macarons, a bra, sexy moves, and lycra (on a dude)—something for everyone.

Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre at Bats—Out of Site, cnr Cuba and Dixon Streets, until 10 August.

Dragonlore by Nic Sampson, directed by Richard Dey, 6.30 pm.

Atlas/Mountains/Dead Butterflies by Joseph Harper, directed by Ralph Upton, 8 pm.

Trashbag by Georgina Titheridge directed by Alison Walls, 9.30 pm.

Tickets: $18/students $14, or all three plays $45/students $36. www.bats.co.nz, email book@bats.co.nz, or call (04) 802 4176.

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