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Written by: Dean Parker
Directed by: Susan Wilson
Lunches, hunches, romance and the occasional whiff of home.
A provocative, funny and intriguing new play by renowned NZ playwright, Dean Parker.
“Love, spies and lies.” In the NZ Embassy in Moscow in 1947 the staff must question their loyalty to themselves, their friends, and their country, when suspicions arise that someone is leaking classified information. Woven with threads and snippets of real events and characters, and with an inspired portrait of Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, Midnight in Moscow is a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking play.
“Espionage furnishes fun ingredients for drama … highly entertaining. It gives cause to ponder, as well as smile. Bravo!” – Theatreview
“Fascinating, entertaining, thought provoking” – The Press
“A rich and satisfying work confirming Parker’s place in the ranks of NZ’s most sophisticated playwrights” – David O’Donnell, Australian Drama Studies
11 May − 08 June
Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8pm
Groups 6+ $39, Groups 20+ $36
Friends of Circa (until 26 May) $33
Under 25s $25
A KIWI PLAY TO REALLY SINK YOUR TEETH INTO
BY LAURIE ATKINSON, THE DOMINION POST, 13 MAY 2013
Many contemporary New Zealand plays are Fast Food theatre: they’re over in about an hour, have small casts for small stages, and are based mostly around relationships. So it’s a pleasure to see for a change a play that offers us a substantial four course dinner.
In his preface to the published script of Midnight in Moscow Dean Parker writes that the subject matter of his play “needed a decent-sized stage. It was a straight piece of bourgeois theatre, written for an older audience: a formal debate in dinner jackets and proper attire, so to speak.”
While the relationships between the characters are pivotal to the play’s themes, which include unrequited love and poetry, they are not the be-all and end-all of the play. They are intertwined with questions about loyalty to one’s friends and loyalty to socialism. The play also explores the lingering repercussions of socialism today. A leitmotif throughout the play is a line from Pasternak: “Life’s not a stroll across a field.”
The formal debate in dinner jackets and proper attire takes place in the New Zealand Legation in Moscow at the height of the Cold War in 1947. The Legation is run by charismatic and hard-drinking June Temm (Carmel McGlone) who is informed by the Americans that there’s spy in her Kiwi team.
It’s not Parker’s intention to make his play a whodunit. If you know anything about the Cambridge spies or have read or seen Julian Mitchell’s Another Country, it is easy to pick out the spy.
In the second act the play moves to Boris Pasternak’s dacha where Hugh (Jon Pheloung), Kiwi diplomat and poetry lover, goes to interview the famous poet and to meet his mistress Olga (Miranda Manasiadis). It’s a strange sequence that demonstrates the status of literature in both countries and it also contains a scene in which Hugh teaches Pasternak (Stephen Papps) a nonsense Kiwi song that I think is meant to be humorous but could well be cut.
The Legation also houses the urbane Kit (Gavin Rutherford, giving an outstanding performance), June’s naive niece Madeleine (Chelsea Bognuda), who is studying engineering and falls for Kit, and Sophie, Hugh’s sentimental wife (Jessica Robinson).
It is an absorbing, if uneven, play (literate, amusing dialogue with strong curtain lines that Rattigan would have admired) and it has been given an impressive production by Susan Wilson and her team.
Proudly supported Shoreline Partners
Running time 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)