Glitz, glamour and murder at Gryphon

TALIA CARLISLE
Last updated 15:29 28/03/2014
Cat's Meow
Tanya Piejus
1920s GLAMOUR: David Cox plays William Randolph Hearst, a 1920s media tycoon caught up in a murder mystery, in the Cat's Meow.

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The Wellingtonian

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The glitz and glamour of the 1920s is coming to Gryphon Theatre.

Stagecraft's latest production follows Hollywood's elite on a private yacht cruise for the birthday of film mogul Thomas Ince.

Live music, Charleston dancing and a murder mystery all take place on the yacht, owned by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

The script for The Cat's Meow immediately caught the eye of Wellington actor and director Matt Bentley.

"People like to see iconic characters and stars on stage," he said.

"There are so many key players - Charlie Chaplin, William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies and Elinor Glyn - I thought it would be fun to bring those characters back to life for a bit."

Bentley wanted the production to create the effect of watching 1920s cinema.

A live jazz band played on the boat, but also underscored some of the action taking place "to make it more dramatic and more like a movie," he said.

"The set is all black and white.

"There's music, there's a bit of slapstick, but all the costumes are very colourful. It makes it very cinematic.

"It's dark, but it's fun."

The play, written by Steven Peros, is based on realistic events surrounding the death of American silent film producer, director and screenwriter Thomas Ince in 1924.

He officially died of heart trouble, but rumours surfaced for many years about what really happened on the yacht.

"No other doctor examined him except the doctor on the boat and the body was cremated straight away after the yacht docked," Bentley said.

"There was definitely something suspicious going on, but we'll never know. I'd love to find out."

- The Cat's Meow, Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee St, April 2 till 5, and 10 till 12, 7.30pm, April 6, 3pm, April 8 and 9, 6.30pm, $25 or two for $30 on April 3.

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