The Last Chance Cafe
The Hobson Street Theatre Company is not your usual theatre group.
Presented by the wonderful Hobson Street Theatre Company, Last Chance Café, a collaboration between people from the homeless community and a handful of professional actors, grew out of the City Mission’s drama club. It’s on for five nights only at Aotea Square’s Herald Theatre (29 Oct – 2 Nov), with all the proceeds going back to the Mission.
The play is set in a simple yet vibrant café, reminiscent of a couple along K’Rd (Lifewise comes to mind) – and all the patrons, in addition to the staff and the owner, are instantly recognisable. As the lights come up we’re introduced to the locals for whom this café is their regular hang out; a community who don’t even appreciate that they are one until the owner sheepishly announces he’s agreed to sell his business to the Council so it can build a road through the site.
The rest of the plot is irrelevant almost; all you need to know is that the café survives thanks to the often very funny efforts of its regulars and gets renamed the “Roundabout Café”. What’s amazing to watch is the way the cast interacts with each other – it's a genuine and open dynamic that’s more often than not missing in slick, seasoned productions, and the one-liners are magnificent (especially when you learn that much of the dialogue is unscripted). There’s no protagonist, no token character…everyone is meant to be there and there’s a real sense of teamwork at play.
The best part of the evening by far was being invited to an after party of sorts at the Auckland City Mission, where the cast and crew served us Sal’s Pizza and made a point to thank and chat with everyone in the room. To be honest, it was my first meaningful interaction with this community, the majority of whom would be sleeping rough that night.
I had no idea the City Mission had such an awesome arts initiative. If you want to help out the Hobson Street Theatre Company and learn more about its members, buy a ticket to the play and head along early – there’s heaps of information in the lobby of the Herald Theatre.