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Membership Renewal 2020
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ETS needs your support which you can give by renewing or by becoming a new financial member, attending the shows and participating in our productions in the areas of activity outlined on the membership form. The membership year runs from 1 January to 31 December each year.

As a member you will:
receive regular newsletters and audition notices;
be able to participate in ETS plays and social functions;
receive a discount on ticket purchases;
support your local, non-profit, theatrical society.

Membership Fees:
Student $10.00
Adult $20.00
Senior Citizen $10.00

You can pay via internet banking (instructions in membership form) or post a cheque to Treasurer, ETS, 40 Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, Auckland 1051. If you are interested or willing to participate in any aspect of the theatre, please let us know by ticking or adding your interest on the membership form.

You can download our membership form here.

Volunteers Required
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ETS volunteers play a vital part in the life of the theatre assisting with a variety of tasks and bringing their own enthusiasm, knowledge and skills to add to the theatre experience.

Can you offer any talents and time with any of the following:
. Being part of the team making finger foods for Gala nights,
. Helping serve teas and coffees and with general hospitality during shows,
. Creative ideas and skills for Front of House Displays,
. Helping with catering, serving and clearing up during our Double Dress rehearsal?

For more details please contact Rona Colbert on 09 525 3336 or by email to hospitality@ellerslietheatre.co.nz

Ticket discounts
We give a discount to members, to bookings of 10 or more, to Community Services card-holders and to Superannuants. Please note that only one of these discounts can be claimed on any ticket.

Review: Proof
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written by David Auburn
directed by Carl Drake

Catherine - Jennifer Onyeiwu
Robert - Fellis McGuire
Hal - Eri van de Wydeven
Claire - Munashe Tapfuya

by Rex Steele

Q E D “I didn’t find it. I wrote it.”

The play is twenty years old, but still challenges with events that communities continually wrestle with. Concentration is vital as clues are often slid in tangentially when characters talk past each other as talking heads, upon which you must concentrate to extract the essence. If the central theme is mental rigour in the form of mathematics, the subject is mental illness, which can appear both gently and angrily. Some of the best acting appears, be it mental or physical, when the characters spur each other to outbursts of honesty and occasionally explore love in several forms.

Actors bring emersion to their roles, Jennifer sustaining hyperactive energy throughout, in contrast to the dignified control of Munashe. The interaction and timing between sisters is dynamic. Eric portrayed a geek with gentleness, sympathy, and strength, while Fellis remained self-contained and natural, handling graphomaniacally, and with aplomb the unawareness of his mental condition.

Keith’s set is a visual feast, and if I was smart enough I might have detected the physical slide of mental deterioration across it, and power play on the stairs. Although lighting is subtle, I often itched to tweak the lumen button up a few notches.

Direction from Carl was meticulous and caring, eliciting accuracy from each character, and paying great care to the integrity of the script.

Unfortunate that the run of this sophisticated play had to be curtailed due to a pesky microbe.

Review: Enchanted April
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written by Matthew Barber as adapted from the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim
directed by Jason Moffatt

Lotty Wilton - Shivaun Statham
Rose Arnott - Sonia Beal
Mellersh Wilton - Zac Clarke
Frederick Arnott - Raymond Vinten
Caroline Bramble - Chloe Olivier
Mrs Graves - Sue Golding
Anthony Wilding - Michael Bache
Constanza - Vanessa Clarke

by Rex Steele

A little more sand under the wheels might have provided traction to the philosophical preamble of this play, but once momentum is gained it flows and builds elegantly into a disparate collation of wrongly supposed pigeonholed widows.  Four disparate women, ebullient, effervescent Lotty, delicate, restrained Rose, distanced, brooding Lady Caroline and repressed, perceptive Mrs Graves form an unlikely alliance to enjoy an “Enchanted April” holiday in an Italian villa, away from all the complications of “home” in England.

They are aided and abetted by two totally contrasting husbands, stolid, pompous Mellersh, and charming, devious Frederick. This sextet is completed with an artistic, almost opportunistic landlord Antony, and Constanza, the deliciously irrepressible housekeeper.

Symbolic naturalism abounds with the acacia growing out of a planted walking stick, ground-cover trodden underfoot, and the ever healing and enveloping wisteria’s smoothing balm. As the enchantment richly unravels and prejudices are delicately unpicked we discover ever more revealing threads which provide mystery, drama and comedy by turn. The most delightful aspect of this show is the close knit support and unity amongst the actors, flowing into the characters they portray.

Jason’s direction of this work is excellent, being both faithful to the script, whilst allowing individual cast members to develop their own interpretations of the varied roles. This delivers to us an enjoyable and timeless capture of an era now long gone, to be enjoyed with a hot cup of “indiscreet” tea.

Review: The Ellerslie Festival of One Act Plays
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The Plan . Tinder Stories - The Worst Date Ever . I Love an Earthling

Written and Directed by Paul Norell
ALCIBIADES ~ John Palmer
DOMITUS ~ Kais Azimullah

Written by Seren Powell-Jones
Directed by Bruce Brown
SEREN ~ Carla Newton
SEREN ~ Caitlin Flower
SEREN ~ Lee-Ann Dirks
MARC ~ Kelaan Schloffel-Armstrong

Written by Rex McGregor
Directed by Amie Bentall
ZAF ~ Aun Sukijjakhamin
MORA ~ Lisa Fothergill
DEEANN ~ Grace Lynskey

Suspicious . Fair Play . The Death of Me

Written by David Blakey
Directed by Merrin Cavel
Apollon Prunet & Inspector John Drake ~ Barrie Graham
Marcus Peacock & Brian ~ Ashley Laker
Colonel Colman & Simon ~ Paul Greenfield
Carlotta O’Hara & Jenny ~ Angela Sarito
Jean Greaney & Kate ~ Grace George
Christine Weiss & Mrs Scrubbs ~ Bronwen Arlington

Written by Pauline Grogan
Directed by Sinead Miller
Liberty Seer ~ Rochelle Cowie
Constance Sanction ~ Sophie Gilderdale
Himbo ~ Maxwell Nicholson
Himbo's Mum ~ Ros Stewart
Press Reporter ~ Benjamin Woods

Written by Norm Foster
Directed by Vic Leilua
Angel of Death ~ Carleen Craig
John Adderly ~ Erik van de Wijdeven
Cassie ~ Natalie Foster
Doctor ~ Matthew Diesch

ONE ACTERS reviewed by Rex Steele

Take an ancient Ides of March and update with a classically humorous power behind the throne scenario. With mixed metaphoric aphorisms our Cicero-like slave saves the day and possibly the bacon by formulating a cunning plan that is possibly not a PLAN….but let’s not be too emphatic on that.

Definitely an up to DATE play for the young, before wisdom and experience get in the way of the shallowness, of exploratory relationships and a lack of consideration for another person’s point of view. The girls have it, but not in depth. Humour is in the ear of the hearer, and good luck to the boy says I if he managed to escape.

Everything has its price. Take what you want and pay for it. Whimsical intergalactic racism in this EARTHY, crisp delight keeps us guessing as to who actually is the more alien. The UFO has provided us with visitors, but are we better off?

Though reworked, an intriguing plot encompassing a plethora of SUSPECT theatrical twists which keep the audience predicting, guessing, and finally applauding as … the butler didn’t do it! Many good plays in Brighton never make it to London, but if this one were lengthened, perhaps it might!
Lighthearted treatment of an age old UNFAIR universal dichotomy. Do you support the haves or the have nots in this dilemma of not owning your own house? A plausible portrayal of tenant versus landlord, with no real quick fix solutions. Would however that I had a phone that made such instant connections.

Being walloped off centre at the first and kept delighting in the black humour and subtlety of observation, the tongue heaves right through to the other cheek. With the profound treated as matter of fact, and clever swapping of dominance, this DEATHLY play abounds with unexpected, pithy bon mot.

Write 50 times: “I am reviewing, not adjudicating.” How does one undo feelings built over a lifetime? These offerings gave us superb acting, and direction, clarity, projection, variation of pace and volume, pauses for emphasis, cheating to audience, gripping characterization, and above all diverse entertainment. But audience, your loudest shrieks of approval are not always necessarily delivered to the right actor or play.

Review: Things I Know to be True
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written by Andrew Bovell
directed by Pam Browne

Fran - Vicky Cairns
Bob - Ken Morrison
Pip - Merrin Cavel
Mark - Paul Greenfield
Ben - Matt Butler
Rosie - Lauren Bartley

Modestly reviewed by Rex Steele

It was impossible to fault this one. It began with a superb script: hard hitting, perceptive, compassionate, and humorous by turn. Every observer must relate to at least one incident evoking personal agony. It is a challenge when everything you can think and say about a saga has already been uttered�far better.

There was from the audience, reaction by turn of shock, surprise, delight, and sadness as the lives of an ordinary family played out before them. Casting was ideal, allowing Ken and Vicky to raise their children Lauren, Matt, Merrin and Paul into a diverse, loving, surprising and shocking but plausible family unit. The acting skills of all six unified this production�.perfectly.

Set, lighting, sound and props were unobtrusive and well melded, allowing the acting and storytelling to dominate the presentation.

Pam�s directing was meticulous, allowing for fluid transitions through numerous scenes advancing, elaborating and enriching.� Overall simplicity was the approach, and complexity the result. I resist the temptation to quote any lines as this play speaks eloquently for itself.

Review: The Bach
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written by Stephen Sinclair
directed by Annie Whittaker

Simon - Mark Campbell
Michael - AJ Chapman
Sally - Carleen Craig
Hana - Vicky Cairns

Review by Jocelyn McQuaid

The bach – that quintessential New Zealand icon, ranging from the old Army hut to a swep’ up, all mod cons house, transported from Remuera. A family weekend at the bach is often a recipe for disaster, and this particular weekend is no exception.  Simon and his brother Michael meet up for the first time in many years.  Sally, Simon’s highflyer wife, arrives with her colleague Hana.  They plan to have a working weekend, tidying up a film project with which they are involved.

After dinner, al fresco at the borer-ridden outdoor table, skeletons begin to emerge, and many things are said in the heat of the moment.  And, if that wasn’t enough, the family discovers that the local council, in its wisdom, has erected a Public Convenience (the Sunny Dunny) on their property’s boundary.  The two brothers, bruised by career disappointments, and burned by relationship failures, decide that enough is enough and it’s time to make a stand.

Mark Campbell, as Simon, did a lovely job of downtrodden, henpecked and harassed husband.  This was a role with a wide range of emotions and reactions, which he handled extremely well.  As his wife Sally, Carleen Craig was a supreme example of a woman who has it all, but is still discontented and argumentative.  Not an easy role.  You can’t really warm to the strident virago, but Carleen carried it off in style.

Her friend Hana, played by Vicky Cairns, had an easier task as “the foil.”  Her character fitted in with the family, as her role of guest dictated, but she showed another, stronger side when Michael overstepped the mark.  The latter was an interesting role, that of a journalist, “exiled” in London, bitter at lack of promotion and recognition, and rather intolerant of his fellow man. Again, another character to whom it was difficult to warm.  AJ Chapman played him with considerable force.

All in all, an entertaining night.

Review: The Lady in the Van
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written by Alan Bennett
directed by David Blakey

Miss Shepherd - Bronwen Arlington
Alan Bennett - Andrew Gordon
Alan Bennett #2 - Ken Morrison
Rufus - Matt Butler
Pauline - Becky Scoggins
Social Worker - Saree Biddick
Underwood - Alan J. Thomson
Mam - Margaret Ussher
Leo Fairchild - Rex McIntosh
Interviewer - Chantal Haworth
Lout/Doctor - Tharma Prasath Saminathan

Probably! Possibly! Review by Rex Steele

The Misters Bennett (Andrew and Ken) cobble this tale of automotive convolution together with seamless subtlety. Their teamwork and parallel parking skills are without parallel. From an unashamed fan, this play is a tribute to Bennett’s wonderful ability to make so much of so little and record humanity’s full range of … humanity.

Alan’s Mam (Margaret) keeps a cogent but deteriorating eye on proceedings, while the longsuffering neighbours (Becky and Matt) flesh out the story by adding graphic detail and far flung metaphysical conceits. The bedside doctor (Samy) does his best to get down to basics, frustratingly thwarted by the good lady herself. The social worker (Saree) periodically heightened my hostility, and cameos by a snitch (Alan), the lady’s brother (Rex), and the interviewer (Chantal) nicely round out the play.

This show belongs to Bronwen, (The Lady) as she glides through the improbable excoriations of those unique flights of fancy. With beautiful diction she delivers such wonderful lines as “I came across it once in a Catholic motoring magazine under tips on Christian parking.”

A simple but very effective set, with John Charlton’s subtle lighting took us on a pilgrimage encountering the ‘Suzy Wong’, the fluidity of actor movement, and the absorbing delight of an entertaining show. And all of this choreographed to perfection by the director, David Blakey.

A nod of grateful thanks to Des Smith for bringing this play to ETS, even though he was unavailable to direct it.

Review: Beautiful Thing
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written by Jonathan Harvey
directed by Bruce Brown

Jamie - Luca Samios
Leah - Lauren Bartley
Sandra - Katie Fullard
Ste - Matthew J. Smith
Tony - Dominic Gorski

Review by Rex Steele

This is a gutsy, economically written play which captures the realism, the pain and the practical necessity of living in conditions of continual challenge.

Set in a Hardingly photogenic, grimy, plausibly weathered distressed tenement, Austin’s subtle lighting range captures the essence of its grimy realism.

It is effectively inhabited by a disparate collection of characters honestly reflecting the mores of the period and contributing equally to the powerful statement that love comes in an infinite variety of forms. While the young speak a different language and reflect modern mores (Cicero noting this 2000 years ago), love is recognisable in its infinite variety. And yes, it is beautiful. Would that I was still not only young at heart.

Dominic delicately and understatedly moulds the role of Tony into a forlorn and finally transient companion, while Lauren grasps the scared, insecure but overconfident Leah and delivers her with unflagging energy.

Luca and Matthew, as Jamie and Ste gradually enrich their respective roles as they move together, gathering strength, maturity and confidence from each other in their search for understanding and acceptance.

Katie, as brash mother Sandra delivers continuing reserves of quiet strength and wisdom, while holding the lives of all the others together.

Director Bruce has taken a connectedly disconnected handful of individuals, evocatively crafted by the author, and sculptured them all into a memorable, uninhibited, occasionally explosive, but always genuine ‘family’.

Review: The House of Angels
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a new play written by Ruth Mayo
directed by Sian Davis

Helen - Lynn Webster
Ollie - Malcolm Beazley
Wystan - Kerr Inkson
Angela - Lesley Reihana
Gabe - Barrie Graham
Jack - Ferooz Afshar
Gwen - Angela Reading
Binnie - Ruth Flynn

Review by Jocelyn McQuaid

A new play is always a challenge – for both director and actors.  Written by expat New Zealander Ruth Mayo, the play explores the lives of eight former actors, now down on their luck and needing a helping hand.  This is offered by Angela (the Angel) who, through a fortunate bequest, is in a position to invite some of her old theatrical chums to join her in a comfortable house in which to begin a secure retirement.

With a wide range of temperaments, of course, cracks begin to show early on in the seemingly harmonious group.  But common-sense prevails.  A few petty likes and dislikes surface – the typewriter’s clacking is annoying, and a personal hygiene problem is confronted, and quickly resolved.

A very attractive set depicted the living/dining area, complete with a good-sized dining table, on which sits a jigsaw.  Comfortable chairs, a coffee table, a china cabinet, attractive drapes and good rugs completed the decor.  There was a set of French doors opening onto a garden – a very realistic backdrop showed a truly stunning vista.  Hanging on the back wall was a life-size portrait (we understand he is a well-known actor!).

Sian Davis is to be commended for her choice of play, and her willingness to work with actors of mature years and a range of experience.  Costumes were appropriate for each character, and the cast appeared comfortable with them.

All in all, a pleasant couple of hours.  Well done to Ellerslie Theatrical Society for their support of this new play.

Review: The Witches
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written by Roald Dahl in an adaption by David Wood 
directed by Daryl Wrightson
Presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd and New Zealand Play Bureau Ltd.

Boy - Luke Orbell
Grandmother - Pam Browne
Grand High Witch - Dorren Tamihere-Kemeys
Witch 1 - Victoria Poole
Witch 2 - Rose Van Wylich
Bruno Jenkins - Sam Megson
Tree-House Witch/Mrs Jenkins - Jessica Cole
Mr Jenkins/Head Chef - Blair Purkiss
Lawyer/Hotel Doorman/Waiter/Chef - Raj Singh
Witch 1 - Victoria Poole
Witch 1 - Victoria Poole
Company Witch - Ros Stewart
Company Witch - Renee Palmer
Company Witch - Emma Gadd
Company Witch - Natalie Thacker
Company Witch - Ashley Gillard
Musician - Regan Crummer

Review by Rex Steele


Goodies and baddies ride again! In a series of seamlessly linked vignettes, with memorable cameo moments speckled throughout, it is challenging to pinpoint unique contributors. Director Daryl melded all into a delightful but cogent evening of fluid, faultless entertainment.

Dorren handled fiendishly difficult costume demands and accent challenges to command the stage as dominatrix of the coven, while her spectacularly lurid acolytes provided a background of contrasting, constantly mobile visual treats.

Grandmother Pam, who could be my granny any day, provided delicate wisdom and gravitas throughout.

As W.C.Fields once quipped, “Never work with children or animals.” And Luke and Sam showed us again how that combo, puppetry included, can be utterly scene stealing.

And talking of scene stealing, would I have a meal at Raj and Blair’s café de movealong?

Thanks also to Roald, makeup artists, the plethora of ‘extra’ characters, and to the musical continuity, joining to make this an enchanted evening.

Review: The 39 Steps
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an adaption by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock's film 
directed by James Bell
Presented by arrangement with Play Bureau

Richard Hannay - Jason Moffatt
Pamela/Margaret/Annabella - Amy Maclaine
Clown 1 - Ken Morrison
Clown 2 - Vincent Feng

Review by Rex Steele

Farcical melodrama, or melodramatic farce? The programme notes seem to have stolen all my bons mots.  Standing the test since 1915 this classic has morphed again into a wonderful two hours of escapism. It is no wonder the principal felt compelled to toughen up in the gym to reprise the role. Oft accoladed director James has extracted every nuance of dynamism from his diverse cast and melded all into a frenetic maelstrom.
Jason pushes, drags and hurls the indefatigable character of Richard Hannay on a whirlwind tour, all within a well lit and versatile Blakey set. His crisp swings of emotion and unlikely escapes from all manner of entrapments glue us to the edges of our seats. (A political future?)
With finely drawn and subtle elegance Amy extracts the essence of feminine allure (WoW) and yet shocks us with her unexpected worm turning betrayals. Ken leads us through a maze of impossible sidestepping characters, constantly challenging wardrobe and the upper register of his versatile voice  by turn. (Counselling has been booked)  Young, passionate mad hatter Vincent enchants us with his frequent forays into a plethora of plausible persona. (Eat yer heart out Alan Bennett)
Fluid swaps of dominance, energetic meshing of switching personalities, and tight sound and light cues gave us an evening of constantly challenging delight, one which I hope none of you allowed to slip by unattended.

Christmas Float 2017 -- A Kiwi Christmas
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The sun was shining on Sunday the 6th of December creating the perfect backdrop for our Kiwi Christmas float. The cheery scene complete with pavlova, sausages and ‘delicate’ decorations was complimented by a cast of colourful characters including a sleeping grandfather!  Thanks to the Ellerslie Business Association for organising another wonderful parade and congratulations to Renee Palmer and her talented Christmas float elves on your award for best float. Special thanks go to Colin and A.J. Tutill & Son for providing the driver and truck.

If you would like to be involved with the ETS float in 2018 please contact Rona Colbert for more information 09 525 3336 or by email to treasurer@ellerslietheatre.co.nz

Save the date: Sunday 2 December 2018.

Review: Festival of One Act Plays
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GROUP A - Review by Jenny Soden

This was a most interesting night of theatre. If you did not see these performances, you missed a great night at the theatre.

Written by David Blakey
Directed by Daryl Wrightson
Doctor ~ John Moloney
Priest ~ Tom Coup
Stage Manager ~ Jo Olsen
Prostitute ~ Lisa Inman
Girl ~ Amy Arnold
Boy ~ Tom Sutherland

Firstly, we had David Blakey’s “Performing” directed by Daryl Wrightson. The wisely chosen cast offered us plenty of laughs as we were entertained with the antics backstage at an “unknown” theatre.

Written by John Broughton
Directed by Jocelyn McQuaid
Sister Bartholemew ~ Ruth Flynn
Corporal Johnny Cooper ~ Sean Miller

Secondly, we were greatly moved by John Broughton’s “The Private War Of Corporal Cooper” directed by Jocelyn McQuaid. This took us back to France and Dunedin during World War 1, where a young soldier dreams of the girl he will one day marry and a Nun dreams (perhaps) about a son she might have had. The ending was spine chillingly moving.

Written by Fiona Farrell
Directed by Chrissy Hodkinson
Valmai ~ Julia Mitchell
Chrissy ~ Bella-Anne Wheeler
Georgia ~ Rochelle Cowie
Bron ~ Ruth Flynn

Thirdly, we had Fiona Farrell’s “Chook Chook” directed by Chrissy Hodkinson. Whilst being a comedy, there were several moral issues discussed and we were given an insight into the individual reactions of the personalities. The costuming was brilliant and the energy expended a joy to watch. The Directors of these three plays must all be congratulated and, whilst all cast members were excellent, special mention must be made of Ruth Flynn’s tour de force in playing two such diverse characters one after the other.

GROUP B - Review by Rex Steele

Written and Directed by Mary Granfors
Nurse ~ Emily Woodall
Hazel ~ Linda Pudney
Maddie ~ Liz Philipp
Mr Holden ~ Rex McIntosh
Kai ~ Raj Singh

In a delicately handled snippet of plausible reality, reflecting a scenario all too common amongst a few of the vulnerable elderly of our society. Hazel languishes, abandoned and lost. As she wallows in her hopelessness, not even an optimistic nurse or a muddle headed friend can stir her from lethargy. Enter a doctor refugee, plausibly reduced to the position of janitor, but with intellect, compassion and judgement intact, as an unlikely catalyst for change. His effect on her is dynamic, and her indifference dissolves, but her focus on bringing an end to her own life indicates that the change is only a means to an end. I was left wishing that this play had been longer, allowing greater development of the fleeting relationship.

Written by David Ives
Directed by Annie Whittaker
Betty ~ Merrin Cavel
Billie ~ Mandy Clark

Honed down to basics with superb timing, this gimmicky, crisp, pithy and energetic take on an ended relationship was just the right length. Adroit, funny changes of direction were captured precisely by the actors who delivered the results of intense rehearsal beautifully. Gradual muting of the gong through the play might have spared us a little of its relentless dominance.

Written by Edward Allan Baker
Directed by Carl Drake
Sandra ~ Lyndsey Garner
Dolores ~ Brooke Peterson

With an explosive start quickly capturing the audience’s attention, two voluble actors drew us immediately into the chaos that was the normality of their character’s lives. As they progressed however, it became apparent that they lived on the edge of shallowness and talked frequently past each other. Snippets of sordid life delivered with the energy of empty vessels making the most noise, left me wondering if they ever thought of what they could give to a relationship. Specific incidents were very well handled and the quieter moments were excellent with the suggestion of impropriety of their father subtly implied. A play for selective audiences with excellent hearing, unfazed by the unconvincing handling of a gun, and not deterred by Tom Lehrer’s reflection that, “if people can’t communicate the least they can do is shut up.”

Review: Festen
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written by David Eldridge
directed by David Blakey

Christian - Kristof Haines
Michael - David Steadman
Mette - Jenevieve Longhurst
Kris - Zach Mole
Helene - Ksenia Khor
Lars - Kashan Preston
Else - Rae Ryan
Helge - Des Smith
Pia - Kate Davison
Poul - Alan J. Thomson
Helmut - David Burchall
Grandfather - Max Golding
Kim - Stephanie Wallis
Gbatokai - Sami (Thamra Prasath) Saminathan

Review by Rex Steele

People to whom nothing has ever happened cannot understand the unimportance of events. T.S.E.

“It’s Daddy’s Birthday!” Your wife and children have gathered to help you celebrate. Christian and Michael set the scene with a brotherly wrestle, while Michael dares everyone to wash his mouth out with soap. Conflicting sibling relationships are quickly established through slick scene changes as skeletons emerge. While the bed plays host to a fluid menage a six we can be a little confused, partly by the time slides, as to who are factotums, and who not.

Clearly disparate characters are well delineated, with Helge and his sons rendered as a powerfully acted trio. I wish I was as thick skinned. The women are not, by their smaller roles, so able to develop their characters, though wives and sister wear, but hide, their inner suffering extremely well.

And so we move on to “Dinner for Twelve”. If we haven’t torn each other quite to pieces yet, let’s do it now. Helmut, valiant M.C. does his best, Poul, human but lamenting his brokenness struggles, Christian, we are told, mixes fact and fantasy, while Else bears it with resignation but bravely escapes in the end. Grandfather delights us with his deftly misplaced enthusiastic observations and Helene delivers her dead sister’s letter with deftly controlled skill.

Throw in an imaginary friend “Snoot” and then an exotic boyfriend Gbatokai and we are challenged by a racist rant. Blaming each other for the tragic suicide of sister Linda, is very revealing…when Daddy takes a bath. The scenes of violence and loathing are particularly well rendered, drawing us in to the fear and disgust.
Great to see a natural and innocent performance by young newcomer Zach.

Director David takes a challenging play and with an excellent cast gives us a tense, vibrant and powerful evening. As Kate Hepburn says in “The Lion in Winter” film, “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?” And I thought Victor Borge was the epitome of Danishness.

Review: Boys at the Beach
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Boys at the Beach
written by Alison Quigan & Ross Gumbley
directed by David Charteris

Bully - Jono Smith
Coops - Junior Misimoa
Den - Andrew Norman
Skeen - Andrew Craik
Francie - Laurene Dearlove
Julie - Jo Olsen
Jamie Waters - Eva Allan

Review by Rex Steele

Is it easy to envy the boys at the beach for their normal, relaxed, uncomplicated approach to life? Thrown together by chance their loud, opinionated, constantly lubricated commentary softens life’s complexities and reduces it to the few basics that make young men’s lives easier to traverse. Loosely paralleling the era’s cricket ebbs and flows, (on the underarm… “Where’s an Australian? I wanna thump someone”) this play sits easily and happily with audience members who grew up kiwi, but may occasionally bewilder those who did not.

Jono captures the impetuous Bully, Andrew N envelopes the larger than life Den, while Jo places an iron fist around Julie. Junior, as Coop leads by default, Andrew C powerfully controls Skeen, and Laurene fluidly evokes Francie the versatile matriarch. Jamie, through Eva provides a quiet contrast to the relentless uninhibited flow of the others. The scene with the youngsters could put anyone off having children…forever.

An evocative, evenly lit set encloses relentless bluster, beery, and basic one liners, plastering the confidence of youth over a half g quarter acre shagging paradise. With “just a bit more authority round the eyes” Director David has knitted an excellent cast into a dynamically paced, nostalgic, pastiche of an enviable era of our own, alas, not so recent past.

Christmas Float 2016 -- The Colours of Christmas
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Another resounding success by Renee Palmer and her Christmas Float Elves, creating the Colours of Christmas for the Ellerslie Christmas Parade 2016. Congratulations to Renee Palmer and her helpers. Thanks go to Colin and A.J. Tutill & Son for providing the driver and truck, Terry Palmer and Rex Steele for their substantial contributions, Chris Seager, Rona Colbert, Janet Cutting, Lucy Flavell and all those Xmas Elves who helped make it fun on the day.

The Ellerslie Business Association Santa Parade 2017 will be on Sunday the 3rd of December. If you would like to be involved with the ETS Float please contact Rona Colbert on 09 525 3336 to register your interest.

Review: Waiting in the Wings
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written by Noel Coward
directed by Rex Steele

May Davenport - Susan Hargraves
Lotto Bainbridge - Penel Keegan
Almina Clare - Margaret Ussher
Deidre O'Malley - Linda Pudney
Perry Lascoe - Ken Morrison
Cora Clarke - Rae Ryan
Dr Jevons / Alan Bennet - Geoff Gunn
Sylvia Archibald - Julia Leathwick
Osgood Meeker - Chris Seager
Maud Melrose - Renee Palmer
Zelda Fenwick - Elizabeth Gill
Sarita Myrtle - Liz Philipp
Bonita Belgrace - Ruth Hyde
Estelle- Kathy Walker
Dora / Topsy Baskerville - Diane O'Sullivan
Doreen - Jessica Rule

Review by Jocelyn McQuaid

A play about a group of elderly, retired actresses, living out their days in a “charity” home. What a ghastly idea! But when the author is Noël Coward, the Master, the scenario brightens more than somewhat.

Directed by long-time ETS stalwart, Rex Steele, “Waiting in the Wings” is one of those wonderful plays which provides roles for almost everyone in a community theatre group. The menfolk in this play are mostly minor characters, with the exception of “Perry Lascoe,” played by Ken Morrison. He cajoles and persuades the “old dears,” making sure they are comfortable in this delightful home. “Osgood Meeker,” played by Chris Seagar, long-time admirer of one of the very old actresses, gently bumbles along with his bunch of violets, and “Dr Jevons” and “Alan Bennet,” both small roles, were competently played by Geoff Gunn.

And the ladies? “May Davenport” (Susan Hargraves) and “Lotta Bainbridge” (Penel Keegan) are the leading ladies who have been at war with each other for many years, a situation which is resolved after a late-night chat. Both these actresses have performed in many roles over the years, and showed just how it should be done.

It is hard to single out any one performer in a play of this nature, but Julia Leathwick as the Superintendent, “Sylvia Archibald,” stands out. Another is Linda Pudney as the Irish actress “Deidre O’Malley,” who dies on stage (more than slightly theatrically!). And who could forget the delightfully dotty “Sarita Myrtle,” played by Liz Philipp.

All those taking part acquitted themselves well, and were assisted by a comfortable and realistic setting. It all made for a pleasant evening’s entertainment.

Review: The Pin Up Boys
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a New Zealand Comedy by Mark Rayner
directed by Linda Pudney

Doris - Francene McIlroy
Percy - David Lundon
William - Rhys Owen
J.T. - Joshua Bruce
Stacey - Jo Olsen
Ricky - Blair Corbett
Cheryl - Lisa Inman

Review by Rex Steele

The Notquiteso Full Monty

As it is not too inexplicable that despite a vibrant set, the paucity of patrons, where precious little work gets done has resulted in a drop of profits, the challenge that faces these real men is the need to reverse the ill fortunes of a customer deprived emporium and save it from impending closure. So throw in a tad of youth’s eternal optimism and you get a pleasing development of unity amongst the quartet, rising to its zenith.

Blair as the laid back artist’s model, Joshua unsuccessfully parrying cupid’s arrow, Rhys enveloped by young family life’s vicissitudes, and David’s flab to fab carpe diem, delightfully unsure of where his character is leading him, are enthusiastically drawn together by Joanne, and combine in an unlikely melding of hard working Chipperfields.

Though Francene establishes embittered dominance early, poor Doris certainly gets her share of adjectives: homophobic, miserable, flabby, old, cow, but retorts with acerbic rejoinders aplenty. “How can you go on strike? You don’t get paid to work here!”

We relished the irony of the resident kleptomaniac Lisa, adding extra layers as the montyites took theirs off. And though I had hoped for a little interconnection amongst the shoplifter, the Harry Potter, and the break in, it was not to be.

Substituting valiantly, Director Linda achieves an audience’s delight, who gloss happily over repetitive scene changes, but we are left quizzically wondering if new management would actually save the shop. The playwright Mark Rayner, gracing us with his presence on closing night, pronounced himself very well pleased with the production.

Review: The Graduate
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a play adapted by Terry Johnson based on the novel by Charles Webb
directed by Bruce Brown

Benjamin Braddock - Josh Fleury
Mr. Braddock - Hamish Stevens
Mrs. Braddock - Katie Fullard
Mrs. Robinson - Julia Mitchell
Mr. Robinson - John Palmer
Desk Clerk/Priest - Shannon Lengauer
Stripper/Psychiatrist - Amie Bentall
Elaine Robinson - Rebekkah Farrell

Review by Rex Steele

“She’s young enough to be my age,” says Benjamin of his girlfriend Elaine, daughter of Mrs Robinson while she taunts back with, “I’m twice your age, you’ll never be young again”. So does age become one of several ongoing themes. Written and set in the 60’s, and yes I actually remember the Mona Lisa travelling to New York in its own cabin on the Queen Elizabeth, the film was iconic, but the play also passes the test of time.

Julia Mitchell is as always, a joy to watch, nailing her character with skilled accuracy. Josh Fleury brings a fresh naivety conveying the battle of intelligence versus hormones in a nicely modulated performance. Elaine’s frailty, baggage, and innocence are delicately captured by Rebekkah Farrell. The other five cast members meld seamlessly, delineating the multiple supporting roles convincingly, with my biased preference being the therapist who misses the point in so many delicious ways.

The Hardingesque neutrally blending set contains a fluidly versatile bed, transmogrifying, through its comptrollers into a plethora of lives of its own, and assisted by a subtle lighting plot, does it all brilliantly.

Tension, in various forms is skilfully controlled through several scenes as the nihilists and the grotesques vie for supremacy. Director Bruce Brown has presented a gem in this production, leaving us to decide if it is really a happy or a not so happy ending, and debating whether we would actually like to be related to any of them. “Just tell me to leave and I’ll leave, call me a cab and pour me into it.”

Review: The End of the Golden Weather
image for The End of the Golden Weather
written by Bruce Mason
directed by Julian Harrison

Narrator - David Charteris
Firpo - Andrew Norman
Ensemble - Helene Holman, Arthur Young, Pam Browne, Brian Keegan, Junior Misimoa, Joshua Bruce, Blair Corbett, Courtney Eggleton

Review by Rex Steele

This show belongs to David. His connection with, and passion for Mason, his evocation of the role making it truly his own, combine seamlessly to bring a not so typical thirteen year old to life. He is in command, and yet often paints himself into the background, switching continuously between sylphlike loner child of limited world experience and wise, questioning adult.

The cast, perfectly selected, meshes lovingly, dynamically crafting a plethora of memorable and believable characters peopling our own individual childhoods. What with Courtney’s mellifluous pedagogue, Junior’s sinuous wahine, Brian’s pontificating cleric, Blair’s rock cracking boxer, Helene’s austere carer, Joshua’s fragile brother, Arthur’s maniac surgeon, Pam’s magic synchronised swimming, and Andrew’s larger than life antiheroic creation of the unforgettable Firpo, we were spoilt for richness and diversity.

Individual imaginations roam free, visualising gorse and rabbits, freezing works depression when an orange is a precious Christmas gift, the long past delineation of traditional roles for Mum and Dad and hints of old England with full dress for the beach. A stylised set, symbolic of bach, beach and creek provided ample opportunity for technical creativity.

Director Julian reflects his own frenetic modus and originality and unifies it all. Whilst the end of the golden weather it may be, dressed as we are in the middle of March for mid summer, our enlivened thoughts could set off in yet another forboding path.