150 young hopefuls whittled down to 21 aspiring actors, playwrights, stage managers, designers and technicians aged between 15 and 25, The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre is a chance to see the best of our up and coming theatrical talent.
Written by Nic Sampson (Bombs Away, Megachristmas) and Joseph Harper (Honey, Bikes I’ve Owned Versus Girls I’ve Fallen In Love With) respectively, Dragonlore and Atlas/Mountains/Dead Butterflies are productions created by young people for young people, but with wide-ranging appeal. Though different in style and genre, the festival's two plays are united in their themes - namely the surprising, frustrating and at times overwhelming process of growing up. Both explore the responsibility of being young and the pressure of wanting to have the time of your life and save the world at the same time.
Dragonlore is a bittersweet comedy with familiar characters and a high-school drama feel. Though instead of band camp, it's LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) on a farm in the Waikato. What appears as an innocent weekend of playing dress ups, albeit with a strict set of rules, quickly reveals a stream of social undercurrents. One of the group has broken the rules, resulting in a potential life-time ban from LARPing for them all.
The character-driven plot plays out in split realities, offering some great one liners and ironically awkward moments. The subplots are engaging, the dialogue witty and there's a nice twist of poetic justice at the end. Playing dual roles is demanding, but the actors showed they were up for the challenge, demonstrating dynamic skills and clear character separation. The group was strong as a whole, but Brittany Low was especially good in her role as Robert, the unassuming farmer.
In contrast is the darker and more sombre Atlas/Mountains/Dead Butterflies, a philosophical drama which mixes mythology and modern apathy. Atlas is sick of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and tells The World of his retirement plans—getting butterflies to take over. Meanwhile, in the depths of Southland Rhys and Phoebe are caught between action and inaction; wanting to change the world and being paralysed by it at the same time.
The group demonstrate an impressive unity, working like a Greek chorus to become a tribe of ants, butterflies, water, statues and the voices of panic and anxiety. In a similar way, the roles of Rhys and Phoebe are each shared between three actors requiring them to work as one to fully flesh out their character.
The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre is fresh, funny and engaging as well as an opportunity to discover and support emerging local talent. Dragonlore is first up at 7pm, followed by Atlas/Mountains/Dead Butterflies at 8:30pm. Take your pick or see both for a fraction more.