Goldie at the Maidment Theatre

Reviewed by FRANCIS TILL

In the laced-up Auckland of the first half of last century, Charles Goldie was a vivid and singular spirit, both celebrated and reviled. Today, the man is almost lost to view behind the mountain of his work and the tragedy of his death.

Playwright Peter Hawes' witty exploration of the human being inside the iconic painter goes a long way towards correcting that situation.

Full to the brim with beautifully polished and wonderfully delivered one-liners housed inside telling little vignettes, Goldie takes both the man and the painter down from their several pedestals and puts them within easy reach, without diminishing either the art or its driving spirit.

It helps, of course, that Michael Hurst, who plays Charles Goldie, is so accomplished an actor and so committed to the role, but an extraordinary performance by George Henare as the urbane philosopher-royal Patara Te Tuhi is equally important to the success of this production.

That's as it should be, actually, because the play is nearly as much about the evolution of Goldie's relationship with his best known subjects, the Maori people, as it is about his transformation as an artist and a man.

In that, the play delivers a timely polemic despite being nearly 20 years old and does so, thankfully, through humour rather than hectoring.

There is some chop in the second act, which compresses much of Goldie's life and many controversies into a series of rapid fire scenes that make for a dizzying view.

Generally, however, intelligent direction by Colin McColl provides the audience with a well-defined sequence of landmark scenes that make sense of this tumultuous, and ultimately tormented, life.

Superb supporting performances back Hurst and Henare throughout the production.

Cherie James, in particular, conjures up a delightfully laconic Hanah, Goldie's maid and muse.

Peter McCauley brings Lear-like gravitas to the vehicle and is particularly successful as Goldie's mentor, collaborator and eventual antagonist, Louis Steele.

Sophia Hawthorne is intriguing and feverishly provocative as Goldie's wife, Olive, and it is through the lens of her emotional conflict that the poisoned painter's tragic decline acquires its most evocative human face. In the laced-up Auckland of the first half of last century, Charles Goldie was a vivid and singular spirit, both celebrated and reviled. Today, the man is almost lost to view behind the mountain of his work and the tragedy of his death.

Playwright Peter Hawes' witty exploration of the human being inside the iconic painter goes a long way towards correcting that situation.

Full to the brim with beautifully polished and wonderfully delivered one-liners housed inside telling little vignettes, Goldie takes both the man and the painter down from their several pedestals and puts them within easy reach, without diminishing either the art or its driving spirit.

It helps, of course, that Michael Hurst, who plays Charles Goldie, is so accomplished an actor and so committed to the role, but an extraordinary performance by George Henare as the urbane philosopher-royal Patara Te Tuhi is equally important to the success of this production.

That's as it should be, actually, because the play is nearly as much about the evolution of Goldie's relationship with his best known subjects, the Maori people, as it is about his transformation as an artist and a man.

In that, the play delivers a timely polemic despite being nearly 20 years old and does so, thankfully, through humour rather than hectoring.

There is some chop in the second act, which compresses much of Goldie's life and many controversies into a series of rapid fire scenes that make for a dizzying view.

Generally, however, intelligent direction by Colin McColl provides the audience with a well-defined sequence of landmark scenes that make sense of this tumultuous, and ultimately tormented, life.

Superb supporting performances back Hurst and Henare throughout the production.

Cherie James, in particular, conjures up a delightfully laconic Hanah, Goldie's maid and muse.

Peter McCauley brings Lear-like gravitas to the vehicle and is particularly successful as Goldie's mentor, collaborator and eventual antagonist, Louis Steele.

Sophia Hawthorne is intriguing and feverishly provocative as Goldie's wife, Olive, and it is through the lens of her emotional conflict that the poisoned painter's tragic decline acquires its most evocative human face.

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