A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols – July 2009

Directed by Florence McFarlane

7:30 pm on  Thurs 25, Fri 26, Sat 27 June and Thurs 2, Fri 3, Sat 4 July 2009 at the Muritai School Theatre, Eastbourne, Wellington.


Link to Media Release
Link to Rehearsal Photo Gallery

The successful run has now ended. We have entered the play in the Wellington Theatre Federation annual competition (the Antoinettes). The adjudicator summarised her view of the production by saying.

“This was a tight and energetic performance. It moved along at a good pace with lots of response from the audience. Fluid shifts from one scenario to another kept the audience focussed. Humour was played well allowing the darkness of despair and uncertainly to emerge. We saw the tragedy, we felt the pain. Strong team-work was evident and the set was workable. The play is wordy but you managed to keep the performance to about 2 hours. Overall all you met all the challenges this play offered. Congratulations on a fine performance; we went away satisfied we had seen a very well produced play.”

The feedback from the audiences was also very enthusiastically positive. So fingers crossed!

The full report will be made available after the winners of the Antoinettes are announced at the awards night taking place on 26 September at the Porirua Little Theatre, Titahi Bay.

Hear the interview on Wellington’s access radio.

First performed in 1967 and widely performed at the time in both the UK and USA, in 2000 the UK National Theatre selected A Day in the Death of Joe Egg as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century. It has seen some significant commercial revivals in those countries since.

The audience is taken on a roller-coaster-ride of emotions in a humorous treatment of a serious subject. Nichols’ rapier-sharp wit peels back layers of reality, revealing humour and tragedy inextricably entwined.

This production is believed to be the 1st in the Wellington region since the Wellington Rep production in 1979.

Media Release

‘Joe Egg is unlike any play I’ve ever seen; concerns about whether it’s dated fade next to the claims that can now be made for it. It’s in the collisions between pious and rogue thoughts that the play’s energy lies. We don’t know what to feel. Which is why, once seen, Joe Egg won’t go away.’ Robert Butler, Independent on Sunday (1993).

One of the English National Theatre’s 100 most significant plays of the twentieth century, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols, will be Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe’s next production.  Nichols’ play opened on London’s West End in 1967, went on to Broadway starring Albert Finney, and was made into a movie with Alan Bates in the lead role.  Unlike some other radical plays of the sixties, recent revivals have shown the play to have passed the test of time – the taboos the play explores are as relevant today as they were then.

The play is about a couple that is struggling to keep their marriage alive while trying to raise their only child, severely disabled since birth.  It is not one where you would expect a lot of laughs.  But within this tragic context, school teacher Bri, (Barry Mawer), uses humour to cope, and his wife, Sheila (Alex Cooper), plays along in her attempt to keep the marriage together.  The result is a comedy that is funny, heart breaking and thought-provoking.

Director Florence McFarlane says “Be prepared to be taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotions in the humour and pathos of this serious subject  The combination of Nichol’s rapier-sharp wit, the thought-provoking treatment of disability, and a very experienced Eastbourne cast is the formula for an exciting production.”

Other members of the cast are Peter Baldock as Freddie, a successful businessman and school contemporary of Bri’s; Ann Garry as his wife Pam; Fran Baldock as Bri’s mother Grace; and featuring twins Molly and Tessa McFarlane who will alternate as the disabled child Josephine.

The Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe production will give Eastbourne and Wellington audiences a rare opportunity to see this classic black comedy; it hasn’t been performed in Wellington since 1979

In Rehearsal

Past Shows

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