New Kiwi Comedy Makes A Splash At The Court Theatre
The Court Theatre will be reeling in the laughs when its newest Kiwi comedy The Biggest opens this June.
Set in small-town Coromandel The Biggest follows Walter, Pat, Mick and Stu as they try to win big at the local fishing competition. They're after a replacement for Stu's dream boat - the one that he spent his life-savings on and then wrote-off the first time he used it, landing himself in a wheelchair.
Only problem is, they don't know how to fish.
For Ross Gumbley, the director of The Biggest and The Court's Artistic Director, the idea is simple but fantastic.
"It's a great idea for a comedy - a group of characters who have to catch the biggest fish when none of them know how to!"
For writer Jamie McCaskill the inspiration for the play came to him when working in a local pub in Thames.
"I wanted to write a play about raw, rural men and try and find the beauty under their rugged exterior. The characters are based on archetypes of people who used to drink in the Thames pub."
The script reflects McCaskill's aspirations for a raw, rural play; full of dialogue that Gumbley calls 'salty language'.
"It doesn't feel like dialogue from other plays you might have seen - it feels like dialogue from people you know. It's going to be one of those plays where people leave with very sore ribs - and they'll have sore ribs because their partner will be elbowing them in then saying, 'that's you up there! You're like that!'"
The director is particularly proud of the cast he's gathered for the show.
Mark Hadlow returns to The Court to take on the role of Stu, joined by Phil Grieve as Pat; Robert Lloyd as Walter; Apirana Taylor as Mick; Juanita Hepi as Walter's put-upon daughter Cassie and Nick Dunbar as 'local prick' and fishing rival, Jan.
Beyond big laughs, the story also explores the politics of identity - namely the confusion and misunderstanding that McCaskill feels still exists around M?ori culture within New Zealand.
"We still don't fully understand how we should value each other's culture in this country. Hopefully The Biggest can create conversation that doesn't point fingers but makes us realise that values to M?ori culture can be inclusive - and aren't there to alienate non-M?ori. I think we need to appreciate all aspects of life in Aotearoa."
Although set in the far North, the play felt much closer to home for Gumbley.
"When I think about the world of The Biggest I think about Christchurch right after the quakes. The quakes were awful, but as a community we were brought together to support each other. And that's what happens in this play. It's about the strength and love that you find in your whanau; in your family and in your friends. And how at the end of the day if we don't support each other through this then life's a whole lot harder."
The Biggest opens at The Court Theatre on 16th June and runs through until 14th July.