- Written by: Desiree Gezentsvey
- Directed by: James Hadley
- Circa Two
- 24 July − 04 August
Divided we fall apart, united we might blow up
Winner of the 2011 Moondance International Fesitval Atlantis Award for Best Stageplay (Script), Nuclear Family features New Zealand actor Yael Gezentsvey in a tour-de-force performance as she takes on twelve multi-cultural characters in this riveting solo-show written 'with heart, tragedy and a fair balance of true comedy' by New Zealand playwright Desiree Gezentsvey.
Set in green New Zealand on the eve of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear Family is a comedic drama that illuminates the journeys of a colourful bunch of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union and Venezuela as they swing between the shocks of delights of their new lives. If only Abi's in-laws could get out of the Soviet Union and be reunited with their family, she just might stop longing for her own in Venezuela. And if shrewd old Babushka could get her granddaughter Zina to sort out her own life instead of trying to manipulate everyone else's, she would fulfil a promise she once made. Longing to belong in this upside-down world of Kiwis and other quirky immigrants, they struggle with the realisation that although the grass is definitely greener on the free side, the fence is still there, and their loved ones are on the other side. Are feedom and control over one's destiny only illusions?
Nuclear Family premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2011, followed by the London Solo Festival 2011, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011, Etcetra Theatre London 2011 and Norden Farm Centre for the Arts 2012.
For more information, please visit the Nuclear Family website http://nuclearfamily.co.nz/
Running time: approx 55 minutes.
NO LATE ADMITTANCE
Cast and crew
Performed by Yael Gezentsvey
24 July − 04 August
7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday
$35 Full Price
$30 Senior Citizens, Students
$30 Groups 6+
$25 Friends of Circa
$25 Under 25's, actors equity and groups 20+
Vital Portrayal of Immigrants Trials
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, The Dominion Post, 26 July 2012
Towards the end of Desiree Gezentsvey's autobiographical play Nuclear Family, currently playing at Circa Two, one of the characters says “the joys of immigration – always questioning if you have done the right thing”. And of course in such situations family and their support are crucial to surviving the rigors of a new life in a new land.
All of which is central to this story of a Jewish Russian woman immigrating to NZ with her young son and grandmother, her Babushka, in the mid 1980's, leaving behind a daughter and sister. Once here she meets up with Abby, a Venezuelan (the writer) who has emigrated from Caracas with her Jewish Russian husband and their two daughters.
The story then unfolds of how, over the course of a year, these families interact in their attempts to survive in fresh green, nuclear free NZ. This friendship replaces their extended family of brothers and sisters and in-laws back in Russia culminating in the Chernobyl disaster, hence the play on words in the title of the play.
But what makes this production so remarkable is that it is all told by one person. Yael Gezentsvey, the writer's daughter and a very accomplished actor, and under the expert direction of James Hadley, takes on the roles of the various family members with consummate ease, fluidly moving from one character to another.
And although – as is often the case in solo performances where the actor takes on a multitude of roles – the delineation of characters one to another becomes blurred and thus the various strands of the story are difficult for the audience to fit together, for the most part the story unfolds seamlessly.
Confidently and with boundless energy, Gezentsvey is one minute the delightfully intense Babushka, the old grandmother, the next the daughter playing up to her new found love Mike, a typical kiwi bloke.
There are many comic lines in the play which Gezentsvey delights in regaling the audience with but there are also heartfelt and poignant moments of genuine grief that immigrants feel in adjusting to a new life in a new land giving the piece depth and colour.
The simple set of a white picket fence and brightly coloured letter boxes on one side of the stage in contrast to the upside down brown fence and not so brightly coloured inverted letter boxes on the other subtly highlights the sense of distance and the joys and yet difficulties of families communicating half way round the world to make this one hour solo performance well worth seeing.
Other Review Quotes
"A play that deserves to be the talk of the fringe." - Edinburgh Fringe Review
"An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!" - Fringe Benefits
"Captures the audience with comedy and depth... the audience is entertained until the curtain falls" - Fringe Benefits