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Sport's brutal spillage on stage

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014
Simon Ward
TOUGH SUBJECT: Auckland actor and playwright Simon Ward is the writer and star of Thumper, a play looking at the violent off-field actions of a sportsman.

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Simon Ward's new play promises to pull no punches.

The Auckland actor and playwright is tackling a topical subject by playing a sportsman dealing with the ramifications of a violent outburst.

Thumper, playing at The Basement early next month, explores the "mongrel mentality" within some sporting codes by charting the aftermath of an assault by a professional boxer.

Mr Ward plays the boxer and Simon Wolfgram his court-appointed therapist carrying out a pre-trial mental health assessment.

The drama revolves around the therapist racing to establish trust with the boxer while also trying to make sure the fighter's brutality does not go unpunished.

Written over the last year, the play confronts an old issue given prominence through the jailing of New Zealand Rugby League player Russell Packer for an unprovoked assault on a Sydney street.

Mr Ward says the simple dramatic set-up allows the play to explore what drives this kind of behaviour.

"I think in certain codes there is bit of a mongrel mentality that is allowed to perpetuate and I think there are a lot of young guys who struggle with compartmentalising the way you behave on the field and the way you behave out in the world."

Mr Ward consulted a clinical psychologist to get the assessment details right.

Thumper is playing at The Basement for five nights from February 4.

More: basementtheatre. co.nz or iticket.co.nz.

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- East And Bays Courier

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