A good year for theatre staging, though less so for memorable props. Here are my picks from the ~80 shows I saw this year.
Poropiti (Basement Theatre)
A wonderfully evocative show of Maori prophets and history, demonstrating how with a couple of people, a few props (sand, rope, flax) and some lights, a whole world can be conjured within a black box.
Amadeus (ASB Waterfront Theatre)
Mountains of sheet music, on top of which musicians perched while the actors flirted, fought, schemed and danced below. Such wonderful and surprising design, worlds away from traditional stagings of the play.
The Plastic Orgasm (LOT23)
Made full use of a pleasingly novel venue I’d not been to before, hidden in Eden Terrace. LOT23 was the opposite of the Basement, a high ceiling white space, perfect for projections, guitar wielding entrances from on high, and a floor covered with every type of clothing imaginable.
Kororareka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn (Q Theatre)
Typically evocative and daring visuals from Red Leap Theatre, with versatile use of mobile staging and use of ropes, though I wasn’t the only one who had concerns about the safety of the actors. Performing at height, mobile equipment and an often wet stage, a powerful but slightly worrying combination.
Pleasuredome (a warehouse in Avondale)
An obvious but easily justified choice. Thankfully I had little idea of what to expect when I walked into a warehouse in Avondale. Inside I found myself transported to New York City in the grungy early eighties. It was hard for the show itself to compete with this wonderful starter, though it made pretty good use of eight giant screens.
Almost everything including a shopping trolley in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again (Basement Theatre)
A clear winner in terms of the quantity of props, with an almost never ending stream of them being deployed with increasingly frenetic energy toward the finale.
Illuminated religious headgear in The Plastic Orgasm (LOT23)
A close runner up to Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again in terms of quantity of props, but ahead in ingenuity and surprise, particularly the sight of an piece of illuminated headgear that wouldn’t look out of place on a Church alter, strapped to Virginia Frankovich’s head.
Sky Tower hat in Brynley Stent – Escape from Gloriavale (Q Theatre)
More inventive and unwieldy headgear, in the iconic form of the Sky Tower, as part of a fitting finale to the City of Sails.
An apple slice in Onstage Dating (Basement Theatre)
Possibly the most disgusting prop of the year, as the poor volunteer date for the night is offered an apple slice, warm and moist from spending the show in the armpit of Bron Batten. Something to do with rural Austrian dating practices, amazing how many people take up the offer.