Festival Triumphs!

boy arrts festivalOpium, bullets, & drums herald an In ternational Festival like no other

By Ralph McAllister

The New Zealand Festival for 2014 opened this past weekend .

Strike and some 200  drummed and celebrated in a packed Civic Square and fireworks added to the general mood of joy.

 

On a quieter, but no less significant level, Robert Lepage’s OPIUM AND NEEDLES opened (and closes  tonight, Monday) with his usual brand of magic and brilliance.

I say ‘usual’ as many of us have seen his shows  here in Wellington, including the superb SEVEN STREAMS OF THE RIVER OTA, at previous festivals.

This visual masterpiece concerns the visits of Jean Cocteau to New York and Miles Davis to Paris in 1949.

Robert Lepage the actor links the stories of  despair,pleasure and bewilderment some 20 years later, as he tries to record a soundtrack for a documentary on Miles Davis.

Some might suggest the visuals of this suspended  box set whose sides become floors walls and ceilings relegate the stories to second best.

This happened with Lepage’s Ring Cycle in New York last year.

But this less ambitious, yet adventurous work, gives us a memorable begining to a Festival which may yet become one of the best yet.

Five stars !

Rob Drummond’s BULLET CATCH is on at the Hannah Playhouse until Friday .

This is a show like no other and though it is early days I predict this will be one of the hits of the Festival and will be talked about for years.

Drummond explores the story of a friend of Houdini who performs, on stage, the bullet being caught in his teeth.The stunt goes horribly wrong.

Drummond invites a member of the audience to fire the gun at him at the end of his show.

There are some wonderfully funny and puzzling moments in this wonderfully funny and puzzling 70 minute piece.

But what is most impressive is Drummond’s skill  at getting his audience,including the shooter,to trust him .This is actually teaching of the highest skill as he offers choices of genuine alternatives.

He even offers time for anyone to leave, without embarassment, before the actual shooting.

Five people out of a packed audience took up that offer.

The rest of us stayed.

The person’s knuckles next to me were white with tension as the climax crept closer.

Drummond gets us to consider why we decide what we decide,why we might choose love or hate or death.

He reads the mind of his audience contributor with devastating accuracy while almost cradling him with concern and security.

 

This is theatre and education at its very best and all it is left for me to do is make sure that as many people know about this gentle Scotsman’s talent as will fill the Hannah for the next few nights.

 

Another five stars, Plus!!

Ralph