A time like this

The play is set in two periods: 1918 and 1984.

The play is set in two periods: 1918 and 1984.

CARDIE AND A NIP: Stage veteran Mike Costello plays World War One returned serviceman Douglas Chapman in Gisborne author/playwright Jackie Davis’s play A Time Like This. His younger, wartime self is played by Myles Ashworth.
Picture supplied
WARTIME YEARS: Cast as Catherine, best friend to war artist Douglas Chapman’s (Liam Duncan) wife Harriet, Lucy Anderson (back) shares a moment with “young” Douglas. Picture supplied

TURNING her novel A Time Like This into a play was not as hard as might be imagined, says Gisborne author and playwright Jackie Davis.

“It wasn’t hard because I had such a clear picture of what I wanted it to look like. It was simply a matter of transferring the dialogue to script.”

The rest is stagecraft.

Unlike the novel, which is set during World War 1, the play is set in two periods — 1918 and 1984 — which is why two actors are cast as the main character Douglas Chapman.

Stage veteran Mike Costello plays 88-year-old Douglas who returns from an Anzac Day parade to his Auckland rest home. He drinks as he recalls his wartime years.

“Mike is a dream come true,” says Davis. “He’s just extraordinary. He is on stage the whole time but he never breaks out of character, even while the play is taking place elsewhere on the set.”

Old Douglas’s younger self is played by Campion College student Myles Ashworth. In A Time Like This, Myles is a sensitive and quietly spoken, 22-year-old soldier stationed in France.

He is also a war artist.

Scenes play out on stage as old Douglas recalls them but at one point there is a crossover where a sentence starts, and a younger character from the years old Douglas recalls, takes over.

“That works well. It’s exactly how I pictured it would be. I think that comes down to the talented cast.”

One challenge for the two actors cast as Douglas is to play out recognisable similarities in his character’s demeanour and delivery.

Young Douglas’s wife Harriet is played by Alyssa Smith while Harriet’s best friend Catherine is played by Gisborne Girls’ High student Lucy Anderson. Liam Duncan has taken on the role of Catherine’s husband George.

“They have all gelled in their roles and have formed a close relationship with each other,” says Davis.

“I couldn’t be happier with the cast.”

Finding costumes to reflect the two periods is more challenging than Davis expected.

“You can’t get away with ‘this will do’. The audience is seated close enough to see the whites of eyes. I had to be careful about getting authentic costumes. I also wanted to keep the palette khaki, brown and cream — very period, very utilitarian. That has extended to the set.”

From script to stage, the production is working out as she imagined it, she says.

“As weeks go on, and the actors get to know their characters, they bring their own nuances to the text. It’s an extraordinary feeling and a privilege to see people bring these characters to life.

“It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before. It’s a lovely feeling of confidence that I’ve passed this on to people to give it another life. “

TURNING her novel A Time Like This into a play was not as hard as might be imagined, says Gisborne author and playwright Jackie Davis.

“It wasn’t hard because I had such a clear picture of what I wanted it to look like. It was simply a matter of transferring the dialogue to script.”

The rest is stagecraft.

Unlike the novel, which is set during World War 1, the play is set in two periods — 1918 and 1984 — which is why two actors are cast as the main character Douglas Chapman.

Stage veteran Mike Costello plays 88-year-old Douglas who returns from an Anzac Day parade to his Auckland rest home. He drinks as he recalls his wartime years.

“Mike is a dream come true,” says Davis. “He’s just extraordinary. He is on stage the whole time but he never breaks out of character, even while the play is taking place elsewhere on the set.”

Old Douglas’s younger self is played by Campion College student Myles Ashworth. In A Time Like This, Myles is a sensitive and quietly spoken, 22-year-old soldier stationed in France.

He is also a war artist.

Scenes play out on stage as old Douglas recalls them but at one point there is a crossover where a sentence starts, and a younger character from the years old Douglas recalls, takes over.

“That works well. It’s exactly how I pictured it would be. I think that comes down to the talented cast.”

One challenge for the two actors cast as Douglas is to play out recognisable similarities in his character’s demeanour and delivery.

Young Douglas’s wife Harriet is played by Alyssa Smith while Harriet’s best friend Catherine is played by Gisborne Girls’ High student Lucy Anderson. Liam Duncan has taken on the role of Catherine’s husband George.

“They have all gelled in their roles and have formed a close relationship with each other,” says Davis.

“I couldn’t be happier with the cast.”

Finding costumes to reflect the two periods is more challenging than Davis expected.

“You can’t get away with ‘this will do’. The audience is seated close enough to see the whites of eyes. I had to be careful about getting authentic costumes. I also wanted to keep the palette khaki, brown and cream — very period, very utilitarian. That has extended to the set.”

From script to stage, the production is working out as she imagined it, she says.

“As weeks go on, and the actors get to know their characters, they bring their own nuances to the text. It’s an extraordinary feeling and a privilege to see people bring these characters to life.

“It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before. It’s a lovely feeling of confidence that I’ve passed this on to people to give it another life. “

A Time Like This, written and directed by Jackie Davis, will be performed at Unity Theatre, Ormond Road, April 7-13.

An opening night gala event will be held to celebrate the world premiere of the show. Ticket holders are invited to enjoy a complimentary drink and nibbles, and a brief writer/director talk, at 7pm at the theatre.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you support the call for a feasibility study into developing an "inland port" and sending the district's export logs to Napier Port by rail, to get log trucks out of the city and to repurpose the port and harbour area?