THEATRE: The Road That Wasn't There by Ralph McCubbin Howell, directed by Hannah Smith
Circa 2, until July 19
On display at Circa 2 is a fine example of rich and splendid storytelling. It is a story that will enchant young and old and if it is the first visit to the theatre for the young, it will make sure there will be a demand for many more.
The talented and multi-award winning Wellington-based Trick of the Light Theatre first presented The Road That Wasn't There at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012.
It played in the New Zealand Fringe Festival held in Wellington last year, and then toured the country to great acclaim.
The story is told by Gabriel who is rubber-stamping papers in a boring job in Australia when he gets a series of calls from his home in the Maniototo telling him that his elderly mother is causing problems with maps, placing numerous mouse traps on her front path, and keeping a washing machine full of apples. He returns home reluctantly to find she is being difficult, but no more difficult than usual. However, we discover Maggie is a spritely, idiosyncratic, and funny widow and when she gets round to telling Gabriel about his father, whom he never knew, and the road that wasn't there, she not only has him spellbound but the audience too.
What happens on the road is when young Maggie, who was meant to be sewing curtains for a rich land-owning family, ends up making costumes for a theatrical company (performing a melodrama about Captain Cook), falling in love and finding the road to nowhere a terrifying experience.
It is very much a New Zealand story, set in the final days of the gold diggings with the strange Blanket Man, a guardian piwakawaka, a Kopuwai-like monster and a two-headed dog (shadow puppets) as well as a nosy neighbour, a funny local policeman, a dairy owner in a wacky hat and references to a home for near-sighted cats.
The three actors - Elle Wootton, Oliver de Rohan, and Ralph McCubbin Howell - not only act and sing with exceptional skill and charm but they also manipulate the delightful rod- puppets designed and created by Hannah Smith.
- The Dominion Post
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