Theatre review: Motel

By Paul Simei-Barton

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Peter Hayden and Lorae Perry bring a down-to-earth quality to their roles. Photo / Garth Badger
Peter Hayden and Lorae Perry bring a down-to-earth quality to their roles. Photo / Garth Badger

Playwright April Phillips has created a finely crafted script that serves up four vignettes on the unexpected encounters that can take place in the transient, anonymous and deeply revealing space of a cheap motel room.

The intimacy of The Basement is well suited to the human scale of the drama and Cass'n'Ova Productions has put together a highly polished production that provides opportunities for a distinguished cast to get their teeth into a variety of meaty roles with a Kiwi flavour.

The first piece teases out the tension between commercial transactions and personal tenderness, with Renee Sheridan and Coen Falke capturing the awkwardness of an anonymous liaison in which things are not always what they seem.

Sympathetic performances by Peter Hayden and Lorae Parry bring a down-to-earth quality to the elegiac reflections of an elderly couple looking back on their lives and developing an intense appreciation of what is important.

An abrupt change in tone has Ken Blackburn and Cameron Rhodes stirring up plenty of laughs as a fastidious, eager-to-please salesman exchanging small talk with a hard-case motel manager.

The sharply scripted dialogue sees the optimistic delusion of an ambitious salesman eviscerated by the shrewd wisdom of a seen-it-all motel manager.

The final piece cleverly sets up a confrontation between an aggrieved wife, sensitively played by Ruth Dudding, and a careless mistress who is given an appealing vulnerability in Leisha Ward Knox's well balanced performance. Their explosive tussle is enlivened by well-constructed reversals of expectation along with some provocative thoughts on punishment, forgiveness and the futility of vengeance.

Theatre Review

What: Motel
Where: The Basement Theatre, to August 24.

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- NZ Herald

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