16 Apr 2010
Two great mavericks of New Zealand literature, James K Baxter and Ronald Hugh Morrieson, clash over booze, horses, women and the nature of the creative act in Ken Duncum’s inspired comedy HORSEPLAY at the Maidment Theatre from May 6.
Starring Tim Balme and John Leigh as the wildly different but equally eccentric men of letters, HORSEPLAY is Duncum’s hilarious imagining of the two crossing paths in Hawera, 1972.
The absurdities pile up as the two find themselves sharing the stage with the rear end of a horse and enduring the interruptions of a dotty aunt and would-be girlfriend, Wilma.
“Ken Duncum’s HORSEPLAY is a forgotten gem of a Kiwi comedy and a wonderfully original take on literary rivalry,” says Auckland Theatre Company artistic director, Colin McColl,
“HORSEPLAY is a bloody good yarn,” says McColl “it’s full of witty and rambunctious language, a real cockeyed salute to literary genius”.
Simon Bennett returns to his theatrical roots to direct the play.
“Returning to theatre after 8 years is like coming home. To a slightly dysfunctional family, sure – but you get that. My first passion has always been theatre – it’s profoundly difficult and always challenging, but the energy released during a live performance and the relationship between audience and actors when things are going well is second to none,” says Bennett.
Now the head of drama at South Pacific Pictures, Bennett is a superb exponent of Duncum’s work having directed productions of his plays JISM, BLUE SKY BOYS, FLYBABY AND POLYTHENE PAM, and FLIPSIDE.
“Kens writing is multi layered, always with a strong sense of irony. He contrasts comedy and tragedy beautifully, and is the master of the dramatic twist. He writes theatre of epiphany, because his characters always undergo profound change,” says Bennett.
Bennett’s production of BLUE SKY BOYS which he directed three times is a keystone in New Zealand Theatre. The premiere season at BATS in Wellington transferred to the St James. All three starred Tim Balme and Michael Galvin as the Everley Brothers.
“The opportunity to work again with Kens words, Bryan Caldwell, Tracey Collins, John Gibson, Tim Balme and John Leigh is like getting the band back together. It’s a great privilege – and feels right.”
2010 New Zealand Post Katherine Mansfield Prize winner Ken Duncum is a leading New Zealand playwright and screenwriter. His scripts have won awards in theatre and television.
His plays CHERISH and TRICK OF THE LIGHT won best new New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in 2003 and 2004. His script for television drama series COVER STORY won Best Script for Drama at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards and Best Writer – Comedy for WILLY NILLY in 2002. Duncums plays have toured New Zealand as well as internationally.
The New Zealand Post season of HORSEPLAY by Ken Duncum is presented as part of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.