Women's exploits make great theatre

JO HILLS
Last updated 08:05 11/12/2012

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For Christmas, give a gift of a lifetime - the experience of travelling the world without even leaving New Plymouth.

Add to that, the enjoyment of seeing some excellent live theatre and having a great laugh.

Buying tickets for the Roger Hall comedy Taking Off will rate you up there with Santa. Tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster for this two-show (4pm and 8pm) comedy at the TSB Showplace's Theatre Royal on April 27.

The characters are quickly recognised and as the Canterbury Star critic said: "They are credible, they are familiar, and as usual from Roger Hall, they are quintessentially us, capturing our quirks, our nature, and our special relationship with the old country."

Taking Off follows the adventures of four "50-something" women who are heading off on their first OE. It stars former Shortland Street actress Alison Quigan, who played receptionist Yvonne Jeffries.

The play follows the four Kiwi women, who are given a new lease of life as they head off to the other side of the world.

Frankie wins second- division Lotto and decides to leave her boring husband. Ruth, having slogged hard for years bringing up a family and supporting her husband on their farm, leaves him after she discovers he is having an affair.

Jean, a loyal corporate employee, is made redundant after 20 years' service and Noline, having nursed her terminally ill husband for years, decides to take the trip they had planned together.

The idea for the work started through a woman Hall met when he was giving a talk.

"She emailed me and said there was an amazing group of women who are vintage and having the time of their lives, and I think there's a play in it," says Hall.

"I sat on it for about a year and decided she was right. I approached Ana Samways [NZ Herald Sideswipe columnist], one of my former students in my playwriting course, and she put in a little paragraph about me looking for women who had travelled for the first time later in life.

"I got a huge number of replies. I sent the women a questionnaire and followed up a great many.

"I talked to some over the phone, I met some individually and I had a group of them come around. The women were very generous."

Hall says he learned through the women's anecdotes that travelling alone "was a big adventure, a wonderful time and terrible times".

"These characters are sometimes very lonely. One of the frustrations of travelling alone is coming home to an empty hotel room at the end of an exciting day and having no-one to talk to."

In Taking Off, each of the women discovers things about themselves which propel them into a new way of thinking about their lives and their capabilities.

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"If you come home from travelling without change, you've learnt nothing," says Hall.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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