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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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AK 09

Arts Editor Fiona McNamara reviews three shows in AK 09, Auckland International Arts Festival

Venus and Adonis

Written by William Shakespeare, directed by Marion Potts

Bell Shakespeare and the Malthouse’s adaptation Venus and Adonis is quite simply stunning. It is rare to see an adaptation for the stage, or a role shared between two people work as well as this.

Melissa Madden Gray and Susan Prior share the role of Venus, waiting trapped in a hotel room as they recount, sing and enact Shakespeare’s poem.

Although they interact, there is no sense of companionship between the two Venuses. The character of Adonis is sometimes endowed unto the audience, sometimes endowned by one Venus unto the other and at other times, Venus waits, trapped behind the proscenium arch, but always seems absolutely alone.

The surreal elements of the production so comfortably blur into the real that I was entirely drawn into this world where lust and love, Goddess and mortal are so distinct but so finely divided.

Anana Tregolan’s costume and set combine with the brilliant music and acting to create this beautiful production. The rainforest that houses the musicians was the dreamworld Venus longed for, that she is cut off from in her sterile hotel room, and for the audience too, seems out of reach.

The Andersen Project

Written and directed by Robert LePage

This was virtual theatre at its very best. There were moments when I was unsure if I was watching a live performer or a digital projection. A mesmerising and powerful production bringing to life some of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories within the story of a writer travelling to Paris.

The Wife who Spoke Japanese in Her Sleep

Written by Vivienne Plumb, directed by Colin McCohl

This Production absolutely creates the world of Vivienne Plumb’s story, at times surreal and at others so familiar.

Honey, a New Zealand suburban housewife, suddenly inexplicably begins to speak Japanese in her sleep, although she can’t speak the language when she is awake.

Without wanting to spoil the story (I hope we have not seen the last of this production), Honey’s world entirely changes and the audience is transported with her into a virtual reality that beautifully blends real and surreal images, created by superb direction combined with John Parker’s set design and Brad Gledhill’s lighting and projection.

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About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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