Review: The Triumphants

Felicity Jane-Powell •

Zinnie witnesses two incredible triumphs on one stage.

Thursday was crazy enough to make jotting notes on the back of a 'Caring for your New Piercing' leaflet seem standard - it's almost too perfect that I was booked in to see the new play at Q Theatre, The Triumphants. I had no idea what to expect but I was ready for anything and I think that's the only way to go to this production by Abigail Greenwood. The production will leave you saying "woah, that was a crazy play," but in the best way imaginable.

The Triumphants is two plays. The first play is called And Then You Die.  The story itself depicts the internal revolution of a young woman fighting her crippling self-esteem, disordered eating, and the world about her - it's a pretty devastating one but at the same time gloriously valiant and above all it is brave. I like bravery, it's one of my favourite qualities in others. It was almost like having a conversation with a past-you about the parts of you that caused you shame or embarrassment, but that ultimately moulded you into who you are 

The lights come up and you're lead along the backbone of some simple keyboard opening and 'wow' vocals into the first play. Quirky lighting and clever writing gives this story a tone, but what really brings it to life is the tongue-in-cheek performance by Aidee Walker. This girl pours skill, refinement and dedication into different characters with hilarity and ease - sculpting new characters out of the smallest inflection of a facial expression, posture or a larger-than-life accent. Her talent must be one of the reasons why this play was workshopped down from a group to a solo actor.

The second play is called Nick. 

It seems unfair to compare the two plays when they really have nothing to do with each other except the moral dilemma they share: triumphing over the self. 

Renee Lyons, who plays Nick, is not just a star, she's a constellation.  An entire award-winning theatre company in a very compact body, Lyons pulls forth characters as though costumes from a fancy dress chest, and all of them fit perfectly on the first try. It may be years of experience on her side but her performance was flawless. Soo Young, the narrating character - a Korean orderly depicted with great realism by the caucasian Lyons - was the champion of the show and I could feel the collective audience clinging to her narrative appearances as though a liferaft in this perilous tale. It was the best kind of comic relief and made each turn of the story manageable, spoon-feeding us the biggest mysteries and questions life can lug in bite-size pieces. Pair this with the most clever lighting I've seen on a stage production and you have a shockingly effective piece of theatre.

Sharing a glass of wine with Ruby after the show over some of Q's house paninis, we sat back and digested the night while people-watching as the cast and crew milled with the opening night crowd, clutching glasses of wine and holding intense discussions about the two plays. Ruby and I were both on the business end of a rough couple of days but we agreed the play was a complete success. So this is why people act, I thought, this is why they tell these stories. Because it's no small nobility to share an idea with a group of people and help them see that at the end of the day, life is not all that bad when we can celebrate our little triumphs.

Read the full review here.

  • Q Theatre and BRIEFS Factory are stoked to be partnering with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation as part of the Puāwai Festival to honour World AIDS Day on Friday December 1.

  • Julie Zhu's portrait series, Hainamana, investigates contemporary Chinese-Aoteroa identity through the photographic lens.

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