Auckland Theatre Company looks like it has a sure-fire hit as Roger Hall delivers an amusing and occasionally elegiac swansong for the bickering couple who delighted audiences in the 1990s in Conjugal Rights.
Stellar performances by Alison Quigan and Mark Hadlow establish an appealing tone of stoic cheerfulness as a professional couple face the slings and arrows of retirement in a North Shore apartment block.
The observational humour of Winding Up succeeds brilliantly by focusing on the little things that make up the bitter-sweet symphony of life. The trials an elderly couple must endure to secure travel insurance; never-ending body corporate disputes and the fleeting joys of over-indulging in a wine society selection are laid bare with meticulous attention to the details which drive home the absurdity of everyday existence.
• Roger Hall's knighthood writes a new chapter for NZ theatre
• Roger Hall pays tribute to actor Ray Henwood: 'To say he played a major part in my early career is an understatement'
• Roger Hall's Middle Age Spread lives on
• From filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson to playwright Sir Roger Hall: New Zealand's 'Ten Pound Pom' legacy
A similar sense of bemusement is present when dealing with serious dilemmas like deciding whether to defer chemotherapy to visit the grandchildren in England. In Roger Hall's world, these momentous challenges appear as minor issues compared with the torments of parting with a beloved book collection or deciding which T-shirts should be discarded in a half-hearted attempt at downsizing.
The couple at the heart of the drama are superbly brought to life. Alison Quigan convincingly embodies the no-nonsense demeanour of a once formidable lawyer, while Mark Hadlow is a mischievous and irascible presence as a retired dentist with an instinctively cynical understanding of the world.
The poignancy of their enduring relationship, that has survived the dalliance of short-lived affairs, is beautifully enhanced by Sean Lynch's sound design which uses a selection of wonderfully appropriate snippets from instantly recognisable pop classics.
John Parker's set creates a lusciously curved arena for the drama and Colin McColl's assured direction brings the house down with a wickedly choreographed geriatric sex scene featuring an Apple-watch.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
What: Winding Up
Where & When: ASB Waterfront Theatre until March 8.
Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton