Review: Anzac Eve

The audience was absorbed in the real humanity which defines Gallipoli's history

The audience was absorbed in the real humanity which defines Gallipoli's history

What:             Anzac Eve

Who:              Armstrong Creative

When:            7.30pm on Tuesday 28 March 2017 and again on Wednesday 29

Where:          Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts

Written by:     Dave Armstrong      

Director:         Jamie McCaskill

Reviewer:      Sam Edwards


Tonight's nearly full audience relished the initial mix of entertaining, often witty, sometimes scurrilously funny, Aussie-baiting. It was classic comedy, no matter that the character cliches and stereotypes were almost painfully recognisable.

The four members of the cast delivered with immaculate timing, incredible pace, audible delivery, and a fine sense of situation and occasion.

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The nippy realist dialogue was so central that the play had a sense of being radio with pictures, and there was very little physical movement on the minimalist set located on the beach beneath Chunuk Bair.

A stylised patterned ground sheet, and props appropriate to back packers on a trip to experience the Anzac day/night memorial activities were tellingly simple.

Backpacks, something to read, to drink, including illicit alcohol, phones to take and send selfies, and onesies to sleep in were it.

The four members of the cast filled character typical roles, a fun loving girl with Maori genes, an Australian blonde, a party lad from Godzone, and a Kiwi MA in history played by a compellingly convincing Barnaby Olson who had rather more knowledge of Gallipoli history than the other three.

Initially, the audience laughter was a constant, and one began to wonder if the play was merely a chance to provide some audience happies - PC or not PC.

Then two thirds of the way through, the tone began to shift, the focus narrowed, and the audience was absorbed in the real humanity which defines Gallipoli's history.

Just as a mosaic does not carry its full impact until the final piece is in place, so too does one need the full experience of Anzac Eve.

It is a perceptive and enlightening commentary on the way contemporary audiences are separated from history, rarely understand concepts such as spiritual respect, and fail to realise that the trite summaries and cliched references in which they speak of the Gallipolean tragedy constantly reveal the enormity of the gap in their actual understanding.  

This is an experience to be savoured.

 - Stuff

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