As a theatre goer there is nothing so terrifying to me as audience participation. As far as I’m concerned I’m paying to see the actors put on a public display, not to be made one of myself. Strange Resting Places manages to make the ordeal of audience participation relatively pleasant by involving food, appropriate considering it concerns the meeting of Maori and Italians during the Battle of Monte Cassino.
Three actors take many roles (including the livestock stolen by the young Maori and Italian soldiers thrown together by circumstance) and tell a moving story in Maori, Italian and English, speech and song.
This is a classic festival piece; a work created out of fragments of stories that comes together seamlessly due to the skill of the actors and the craft of the writers.
The world premiere of Carl Nixon’s play The Raft at the Court Theatre during the Arts Festival gives Christchurch audiences the chance to see a powerful, moving and emotionally true piece of New Zealand theatre.
Anyone who has been a member of a family, who has suffered loss, who has had to practise forgiveness or who has spent any time in a West Coast bach will find much that resonates here.
Nixon’s short stories are hugely evocative of place and his novel, Rocking Horse Road, absolutely nails the landscape and atmosphere of New Brighton.
The Raft combines sense of place with a fine ear for New Zealand speech and a clear insight into how many of us deal with grief and loss. There was a lot of laughter in the theatre but I noticed some discreet tissue work as well. This is definitely one to see at the Festival if you can.