8-12 August 2017, Napier Little Theatre
Napier Repertory Players’ alternative, versatile studio productions work well for exploring challenging themes within a shortened time space, providing opportunities for performing arts participants to increase their skill base in all elements of theatre, using minimal props, sound and lighting.
Their latest offering, After the Accident (written by Julian Armistead and directed by Mason Price), is a provocative and challenging play that grasped the audience from the off-set. The audience were immediately absorbed into the emotional state of Petra (Monique Cowern) and Jimmy (Rob Mackintosh), a grieving couple, who lost their daughter four years previously in a car accident involving a young joy-rider, Leon (Mikel O’Connell).
Agony, anger, misplaced blame, and judgment, are gradually brought to light, and begin to be healed through the process of restorative justice. Petra, a strong, determined women, but crippled with grief, gradually relents to her husband’s will to meet Leon. This meeting, and the ‘judicial foreplay’ as Petra describes it, takes the audience on an extraordinary journey that challenges many of our accepted societal norms.
Each character communicates their version of events through memories and the use of subtle analogies, eventuating with the final explosive meeting. Clever dialogue, facial expression, and body language convey the inner torment each character has been living with since the accident. This expressive combination is highly engaging. I found myself empathising with all three characters, despite them having very different views and experiences of the accident and the moments before and after the tragic event.
A clever and unusual seating arrangement added to the intensity of the play. Slightly intimidating at times, I was reluctant to take a sip of my wine, just in case I had full eye contact with one of the performers. The language was powerful, for some, confronting; the delivery, outstanding.
As the lights came on the audience sat there, momentarily silent, then looking to one another for comment and release. Powerful and thought-provoking, it’s not one to miss.