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Young and Hungry: Festival of New Theatre

For 22 brilliant years the Young and Hungry Festival has been inspiring young people to engage in everything from acting, stage-management, playwriting, and more. This year the festival produced three plays, shown in succession (from 6.30–10.30pm) for a two-week season at BATS Theatre.  


Bloody Hell Jesus (Get Your Own Friends)

Writer: Lucy Craig

Director: Jane Yonge (VUW Alumni)

Assistant Director: Ruby Hansen (VUW student)

Plot: Bloody Hell Jesus follows a journey of four best friends from kindy to high school. Through confronting their shallowness, joining a metal band, and meeting Hipster Jesus, the four friends realise they have their own lives to live.

Themes: The play explores friendships and religion, but more specifically the idea of letting go of friendships and of the people in your life who are holding you back.

Set / Lighting: The set by Talei Timakata consisted of two skate ramps creating a U-shape at the center of the stage. Actors used these ramps in creative ways, highlighting the element of fun that Young and Hungry brings to the stage. The skate ramp becomes a metaphor for being on the cusp of something exciting and potentially dangerous. And as you slide down the ramp with a rush of adrenaline you enter new and unknown territories—particularly relevant to young people.

Sound: With original work from Andy Gartrell and his foot pedal, sound was a highlight of Bloody Hell Jesus. Each scene was suitably matched with a back track, played by Gartrell and creating everything from funky to heavy-metal tones for each scene.

What we thought: The three-piece band was a massive highlight. There was great playfulness on stage!


Like Sex

Writer: Nathan Joe

Director: Samuel Phillips (VUW Alumni)

Plot: The play starts with a bang. Literally. Through a series of interlocking scenes, the audience follows the private lives of seven high school students who are all connected by one act—sex.

Themes: The play explores all things sexual—from cheating scandals, to coming out, to losing virginity. It deals with all the gritty stuff head on.

Set / Lighting: Performed in a traverse-stage, it’s like watching a tennis match as your head swivels backwards and forwards to soak in all of the action. The lighting allows you to watch the reactions of the audience members sitting opposite you—a daring decision when considering the nature of the subject matter involved.

Sound: All of your favourite chart-topping hits but without the lyrics bring a decidedly edgy vibe to the play.

What we thought: It’s a complex and thought-provoking exploration of sex and intimacy. The portrayal of sex scenes (creative props were used such as a desk lamp to represent a blow-job) and the physical engagement of all of the actors brought an energetic presence to the show. However there are a few moments—such as the school ‘slut’ being redeemed because a male decides to befriend her, and the word lesbian being whispered like a dirty secret—that made one feel slightly uncomfortable.


Dead Days

Writer: Owen Baxendale (VUW Alumni)

Director: Debra Mulholland

Plot: The play begins with apprentice-mortician Max (Morgan Hopkins) celebrating his 21st birthday alone. The show becomes increasingly dark from this point onwards as dead people awaken and start challenging the living.

Themes: The play is about catharsis, not taking your life for granted and speaking up for yourself.

Set / Lighting: The set is in a funeral parlour and is sympathetically macabre, with shelves of embalming fluid and dead bodies covered by white sheets that are illuminated by clinically bright lighting. The space is cold and ominous.

Sound: Eerie transition music is reminiscent of a mix between child-like nursery rhymes and horror films.

What we thought: This show should not have been put at the late-night slot of the Young and Hungry season as it discusses disturbing issues which probably shouldn’t be considered at 10pm.  

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