War is always a divisive topic. Whether the battle is historical or modern, people will always have different views on the point of it all. Recent events in particular will likely cast a shadow over upcoming Anzac Day celebrations, making Dave Armstrong's play even more topical.
Anzac Eve follows two Kiwi men and two Aussie women who are squashed together as they wait for memorial celebrations at Gallipoli to begin. It quickly becomes clear they all have different takes on not only war but also immigration and academia, leading to a tense wait.
Initially, all four characters come across as archetypes: nerdy goof, reclusive liberal, ditzy Australians. Thankfully, once their introductions are out of the way, the four begin a rapid fire exchange of political views and historical facts in a rollercoaster exchange that rarely lets up. Barnaby Olson and Ruby Hansen particularly shine as polar opposites Ben and Maia, while Trae Te Wiki and Hayden Frost make their characters more than just comic relief.
The staging is simple, a camouflage sheet strung up to presumably represent the Turkish hills. With the four actors alone and huddled together for the majority of the play, much is made of invisible celebrators cramped alongside as reason why these four remain together. It's a nice touch at first, until you ask why, if it is so tightly packed, is this very heated, increasingly loud argument going completely ignored by the dozens of people surrounding them?
It's just one example of the lack of fine-tuning that casts a shadow over an otherwise tightly woven script. The ending feels Hollywood-esque in how nicely things are wrapped up, contradicting the increasing intensity of the past hour and preventing the anti-war arguments from having much of a lasting impact.
Anzac Eve is entertaining and intriguing thanks to its zingers and talented cast, but even if Armstrong didn't want to pick a side in the end, it would have been nice if the characters had at least stuck to theirs.
What: Anzac Eve
When and Where: Herald Theatre until April 4th