You don't need to be a political historian to enjoy The Tigers of Wrath, says writer Dean Parker.
His play sets the lives of its characters against the background of larger-scale dramas playing out in the People's Republic of China and the New Zealand Labour Party.
So is it an earnestly didactic socialist treatise and do viewers need to research modern Chinese history to appreciate it?
Parker laughed. "It's an entertainment, it's very funny and it has interesting characters," he said.
"In 1974 they are in their 20s in Beijing. Twenty years later we meet them again in the early 90s and one of them has moved into the Labour Party. She is involved in the move to get rid of Mike Moore and replace him with Helen Clark.
"Then in 2009 one of them is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for his involvement in a finance company."
The actors must age on stage from their late teens or early 20s to their mid-50s.
"Three principal characters start off as Maoists in the 70s, which was the last great burst of idealism amongst the left.
"However, in the ensuing 18 or 20 years their lives take them on different trajectories," Parker said.
He will be there on opening night, if somewhat reluctantly.
"Normally I try to avoid these things because I get really nervous. But it's always the writer's obligation to stand up there and get his share of the rotten tomatoes as they are hurled at the cast," he said.
Parker has been a prolific writer for the stage, television and film, but said he suffered some setbacks in the last couple of years.
His play Midnight in Moscow had just opened in Christchurch and played to two houses when the earthquake literally brought the house down.
"It was a disaster for me, but a bigger disaster for others, obviously," he said.
"It's been a bad year financially, but a good year in terms of the work... but it will be a good year next year. I've got plays at a couple of major theatres."
Midnight in Moscow would be among them and it would be in Wellington, he said.
The Tigers of Wrath opens at Circa Theatre on Saturday, November 3, and runs until December 1. It will be directed by Jane Waddell and will feature Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, Kate Prior, Nathan Meister and Heather O'Carroll.
For information or to book visit circa.co.nz or phone 801 7996.
- The Wellingtonian