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Girls will be brutal: Sophie Roberts on Silo Theatre's gutsy new show

Girls will be brutal: Sophie Roberts on Silo Theatre's gutsy new show

Sophie Roberts says she had an “allergic reaction” when she first read Boys Will Be Boys, Silo Theatre’s show opening in September. Allergic as in skin rash and face all puffed up? Not quite. “It’s such a horrible world — the worst people imaginable doing the worst things.”

Sounds like good theatre, I suggest. Yes, she says. And one of the things that’s really good is these people are women. “We celebrate male characters like Tony Soprano and Walter White, but it’s rare to have such strong female anti-heroes.”

This “horrible world” is currency trading, where the brutally ambitious and wildly successful Astrid takes on an intern, only to find the intern is even more brutal than she is. “It’s a world where the options for women are to cash in their erotic capital or behave like a man.” Which means, they try to destroy each other.

The play was originally commissioned by Cate Blanchett for the Sydney Theatre Company, and has women playing both women and men. Roberts calls it a kind of “dirty cabaret”. There are songs, all sung by Amanda Billing, who plays Astrid, while the rest of the cast form the band. No, they have not all previously been known for their musicianship. Yes, they are being guided by one of the best: Silo’s frequent musical director Leon Radojkovic.

Roberts is in her third year as Silo’s artistic director, having graduated from Toi Whakaari only eight years ago. Is it hard to put on plays in the age of Netflix? “It’s quite hard.” She programmes shows that reinforce the special experience of live theatre and have something to say: themes this year have included sexual identity, domestic violence, infanticide and now misogyny and corporate cruelty. And she embraces risk: “If I’m not terrified, I’m worried.”

Boys Will Be Boys, Q Theatre, September 9-24. silotheatre.co.nz

Photo by Ken Downie for Metro.

Theatre