On Thursday night I went to the opening night of The Triumphants, directed by Abigail Greenwood. The Triumphants is made up of two one woman shows, And Then You Die, written by Tom Sainsbury and performed by Aidee Walker and Nick, written and performed by Renee Lyons. It’s a pretty cool collection of ladies, while Renee is fairly new to me, Abigail was fantastic in Top Girls and Aidee can be recognised as Draska from Outrageous Fortune.
They’re not just cool ladies though, they’re pretty damn talented.
And Then You Die, is about the voices in your head. Aidee plays Debbie Le Valient, a self conscious, hopeless girl who is a bit of a loser. Aidee flits between Debbie and the others who make up her world with ease. One moment she’s Debbie feeling useless, next she’s a high powered career woman who also happens to sing most of her parts. It’s hilarious, catchy, and sucks you in, before turning a bit dark towards the end. It’s a good dark though, deliciously dark.
I really loved And Then You Die because although it was quite heightened, it was quite realistic at the same time. It was discussing what goes on inside your head, and well, quite frankly inside my head can be fairly heightened as well.
Nick, had a very different feel to it. It’s actually based on the story of a real person, Nick Chisholm. Nick Chisholm is a bit of a medical miracle. At 27 he was struck down by a stroke and expected to be a vegetable for the rest of his life, but he wasn’t a vegetable, he had ‘locked in syndrome’ and he didn’t let that stop him from doing anything. He’s fairly inspiring and as a result he’s been the subject of a lot of media attention over the years
Renee went and met with Nick, met his friends, his family and wove this play from his story. Because of this real life connection Nick is all sorts of deep, tragic and hugely entertaining, with Renee, like Aidee slipping in and out of the different skins of her characters with ease. Particular favourites were her narrator (who reminded me a bit of the narrator in Alladdin – in a good way) and Nicola, a character who was so lovely and different from the other characters that it was almost bizarre to imagine it could all be the same person.
The cool ladies (and dudes) factor isn’t limited to the director and cast though. Jane Hakaraia (full disclosure: I have a personal family oriented bias) has done a beautiful job of the set and lighting. And Then You Die is very warm and bright with a cardboard set (which lights up!!!) while Nick is fairly sparse and cold. The contrast works perfectly, the cardboard of And Then You Die feeding in to the almost childish nature of Debbie, while the simplicity of Nick left space for the depth of content. And Then You Die was great because every now and then Debbie would suggest something absurd and it would pop up on cardboard screens, thanks to Josephine Stewart-Tewhiu’s illustrations and Andy Panga’s animation. It also has a disco sexy time scene which is amazing. Nick, was comparatively simple but at the same time had beautiful transitions and levels of light and dark. If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know that I’m a big fan of shadow and Nick played with this quite well. In terms of X Factor it had a time machine scene which involves bubbles. Say no more!
Sound is a fairly big aspect of this show as well, with Ruby (the technician) having to keep up with all sorts of cues. It helps that Aidee has a beautiful voice and is totally able on the keyboard/ rhythm pad (I’m guessing that’s what it called)/ looping pedals but Alastair Deverick has done a pretty good job on the sound as well. I still have the songs from And Then You Die in my head now. Sigh. Do, doo dooo doooo, do doo dooo, do.
These plays are definitely worth seeing and Abigail has done a brilliant job directing them. They’re short and sweet at 50 minutes a pop and show off how to do one person shows right. Adam gave them a big thumbs up as well.
The Triumphants are on until Saturday the 18th of August at Q Theatre in the Loft. I’d advise making a night of it, having dinner at Q before the show – it’s delicious and very reasonably priced. Tickets range from $25-30 and you can buy them here.