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1 Taranaki Street, Wellington | Box Office Ph: 04 801 7992
Duration: 27 February - 16 March 2013

Written by: Katherine Mansfield
Directed by: Catherine Downes


Fascinating, compelling – an evening of pure delight.

Acclaimed actress Catherine Downes brings her latest work, Talking of Katherine Mansfield, to Circa for the opening season of her New Zealand tour.

Cathy performed this wonderful exploration of Mansfield’s writing about life, death and what we want in between, at the Ubud Writer’s Festival in Bali in 2012, after a sell out season on Waiheke Island.

In Talking of Katherine Mansfield, she discusses and performs highlights of her internationally lauded play The Case of Katherine Mansfield and offers new insights to its themes, illuminated by a selection of Mansfield’s finest short stories, including the much-loved The Doll’s House.

An engaging and dramatic account of one of New Zealand’s favourite literary icons, whose creativity and ruthless honesty are brought to vibrant life in this fascinating work.

“I would have been happy to stay on in the theatre and see it all over again” – Julianne Evans, The Gulf News

Tributes for The Case of Katherine Mansfield:

“A powerfully execute work of art” – The New Zealand Listener

“A treat not to be missed” – Time Out, London


  • Catherine Downes

  • 27 February − 16 March

    Tue – Sat 7.30pm

    Sun 4.30pm


  • Adults $46

    Concessions $38

    Friends $33

    Groups 6+ $39 / Groups 20+ $36

    Under 25s $25

    $25 Specials Tuesday, 26 February and Thursday, 28 February



    I seem to remember that Cathy Downes started her solo play, the acclaimed The Case for Katherine Mansfield, by standing on her head. As the title suggests she is not as athletic in Talking of Katherine Mansfield, but she is just as compelling as she was all those years ago.

    Talking of Katherine Mansfield starts with Cathy Downes explaining how she came to write and perform The Case for Katherine Mansfield. She then explains the genesis of her current solo performance and her continuing fascination with Mansfield’s writings and that Mansfield’s attitudes to living and mortality are of universal appeal. But Talking of Katherine Mansfield is neither a talk nor a lecture, nor a solo play but a judicious mix of all three.

    After a brief introduction to Mansfield’s early life we are confronted with the rebellious eighteen year-old Mansfield, stuck in deadly boring Wellington and longing for LIFE in London, in her story Amore, which Cathy Downes reads. One can hear amongst the adolescent melodramatics snatches of the brilliance of her maturity. Downes keeps reminding us that Mansfield was only thirty-four when she died.

    The impact of the death of her brother during the war is revealed in the devastating short story The Fly. Cathy Downes reads it superbly and it says a great deal for the power of the story and the reading that there was no applause at the end, just silence. She also reads The Doll’s House and an extract from Bliss with the same authority and skill.

    Mansfield’s relationship with Middleton Murry is strongly portrayed in extracts from her letters to him. He seems unable to feel or react to Mansfield’s shimmering intensity of her love of life and her ability to pin down in her work its fleetingness, its beauty and its sadness.

    Despite an ending, which tugged at the emotions in a very theatrical way and seemed unnecessary since no tricks except the tricks of fine writing and performing had been used before, Cathy Downes gives a brilliant performance capturing that shimmering intensity and quest for life led to the full.


    Other Reviews

    John Smythe, Theatreview, 1 March 2013

    Lynne Freeman, Capital Times, 4 March 2013


Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (no interval)