Q Theatre's Loft provides an intimate setting for an engaging double-header that offers two sharply contrasting visions of the current state of New Zealand society.

Thomas Sainsbury's And then You Die takes us on a wickedly funny excursion into the head of an under-achieving retail worker who has a compulsive eating disorder and a schizophrenic voice reinforcing her chronically low self esteem.

Aidee Walker's appealing performance brings to life a weird but instantly recognisable mob of Kiwi characters and her powerful singing delivers a hilarious Concords style gospel number on the tyranny of sales targets.

Although the writing is stylish, quirky and inventive the play presents a fairly bleak perspective on life. But the nihilism is studiously casual and the story ends with a psychotic episode that is played strictly for laughs leaving audience members to draw their own conclusions.

The second offering written and performed by Renee Lyons also displays a fine understanding of theatrical story-telling but establishes a very different tone with a moving account of young man cut down in the prime of life by a sporting accident that reduces him to a vegetative state.

The story is based on the real life experiences of Nick Chisholm who suffered a rare brain stem trauma that left him fully conscious but totally paralysed. The decade long struggle to rebuild his life is told as a celebration of the unassuming heroism of the people who supported Nick on his path to recovery.

The play uses tightly focussed lighting to draw us into the severely constrained world of the protagonist and Renee Lyons performance has a compelling emotional honesty.

At times the mannerisms of kiwi blokedom are laid on a bit thick but the play deftly avoids any sense of sentimentality and presents an inspiring tribute to the way ordinary people rise to challenges posed by extraordinary hardship.

What: The Triumphants
Where: Q Theatre Loft, to August 18