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A town hall full of Daffodils

May 31, 2016 Theatre

Heard the one about the everlasting flowers? Daffodils is a story set to music of a marriage that worked until misunderstandings and ordinary human weakness meant it didn’t. It’s played sold-out seasons in Auckland, toured the country twice, toured Australia and is now destined for the Edinburgh Fringe — and then, who knows? This play, which starts with two awkward youngsters meeting in Hamilton Gardens, could conquer the world.

Written by Rochelle Bright, it has a simple, formal structure: two actors present the story of their characters’ lives together and, with a live band, sing great New Zealand songs from the 1970s to now: Dobbyn, Finn, Runga, you name it, all freshly arranged by Stephanie Brown (Lips), who also leads the band. When it first opened, in March 2014, I wrote this: “[Daffodils is] a play to turn you inside out and set you back, heart pounding and eyes all wet, terribly upset, terribly full of thanks that it could be so good. It’s a new-formed, fully fledged wonder.”

I’ve seen it since and not changed my mind. I’m seeing it again on June 3, not in the intimate setting of a small theatre, but in the Town Hall. Because, to help them get to Edinburgh, they’re doing a fundraiser. Will it survive the transition?

Put it this way: the plays tells us we are not strong enough to be what we want to be, but it also says the only way to deal with this is to trust the frailties that make us human: kindness, hope, delicate moments of touch and compassion, the way we can be undone by a song. To immerse oneself in that, in a venue as big and beautiful as the Auckland Town Hall, well, that could be very special.

And there’s more. They’re bookending the play with performances by some pretty starry friends: Julia Deans, Anika Moa, Tami Nielson, Trip Pony and Lips.

Colleen Davis, pictured, who is one of the stars of Daffodils, is understandably excited. She’s performed in the Town Hall before, but not since she was a child singing in choirs. When we met, she basically couldn’t stop grinning.

It’s a big year for Davis, who as Coco Davis has released her first album. Old Haunts is full of jazz and soul classics, reinvented with her partner, the stonkingly exciting guitarist Tom Rodwell. She’s got a voice that does sultry and soaring, and she’s been singing the songs for years. Last year, they locked themselves into a studio in the Netherlands and “tore them all apart and jammed”. The result is lyrical, dirty, burning with desire.

To buy tickets to the show, donate to the Edinburgh tour and/or find out more, visit

Daffodils, Town Hall, June 3,


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