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360: A Theatre of Recollections - review

Jan 15, 2014 Theatre

Magic all around

360: A Theatre of Recollections

Civic Theatre

January 14, 2014.

Still hoping for that magical moment this summer? It’s on offer right now in the intimate setting of the stage at the Civic.

I know, odd. You sit on the stage. 360 is presented in a closed off area, with an audience of just 80 sitting on swivel chairs, completely surrounded by a ring stage. A circus ring? Yes, there are cannon firing, juggling, knife throwing. The circle of life? Yes, it’s that too. And more. You’re in a private fantasy world, watching a story about a young man who escapes his family to seek his fortune in the world, and then tries to return.

360 is a modern parable, part-Fellini, part-Beckett, part Dali and with more than a little Laurel and Hardy. It’s a tale of memory and hope and desire and, of course, loss. By the end, if you’re like me, you’ll be sitting there with waves of sadness washing over you – and yet do not let that put you off. You will also be filled with delight at the beauty they conjure before your eyes, the moments of glorious comedy, the subtle and wondrous ways the show claims your heart.

The enormously inventive and literate writer/actor Carl Bland wrote this piece with his late wife, Peta Rutter, and along with director Ben Crowder they created the first production (for the Wellington and Auckland arts festivals in 2010 and 2011). Bland and Crowder have restaged the work with – for those who saw it earlier – a reputedly more melancholy tone and several new actors.

It’s an ensemble performance, and all the actors have a magnetic presence. Special hats off, though, to Gareth Reeves, home after three years touring overseas, who anchors the show as the adult protagonist.  With an absurdly hilarious pomp that leads to confusion and eventually grief, he’s outstanding. Special nod also to the singing, dancing, profoundly entertaining Olivia Tennet.

It’s all so assured, with John Gibson (music), Elizabeth Whiting (costumes), John Verryt (set) and Nik Janiurek (lighting) rounding out a formidably talented A-list creative team.

Theatre’s often at its best when it does something no other artform can do – transforming the world you live in, live before your eyes. That’s what 360 does. Those swivel seat numbers are limited – don’t miss out.

Until January 25


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