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The Court Theatre Presents ON THE ROCKS Through 17 July

Artistic temperaments and passionate relationships lie at the centre of ON THE ROCKS, a comedy-drama inspired by true events in the lives of literary icons D.H Lawrence and Katherine Mansfield. The Court Theatre stages the New Zealand première of Amy Rosenthal's new play.

In 1916, Lawrence and his German wife Frieda invited Mansfield and her partner John Middleton Murry to form an artistic utopia in the Cornish town of Zennor where friends could live, eat and write together. Three months later the dream was shattered.

Claire Dougan plays the iconic writer Katherine Mansfield, who she describes as "a very complex woman to play. Mansfield is dealing with writer's block and her brother's death as well as a kind of ‘culture shock' - she's really unprepared for the intensity of Lawrence and Frieda's relationship. It's a fantastic role."

Jon Pheloung lost over ten kilos to play Lawrence who was, at the time of the play, living in near-destitution as a social outcast due to his vocal anti-war stance, anti-German sentiment and accusations of obscenity in his work. "Although he was ill, he was still a massive personality - brilliant and passionate and at the same time very dominating and controlling" says Pheloung.

Jason Whyte, last seen at The Court in 2007's THE SHAPE OF THINGS, plays Mansfield's partner and eventual second husband, writer and literary critic John Middleton Murry. Whyte recently performed in the critically-acclaimed APOLLO 13: MISSION CONTROL at the Sydney Opera House and will tour the production to Australia and the US next year.

Ali Harper plays Lawrence's passionate and hedonistic wife Frieda. Harper last appeared at The Court in the musical I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE! while pregnant; ON THE ROCKS marks her return to the stage.

Director Lara Macgregor believes that ON THE ROCKS is at its heart a play about "struggle: the struggle to love, live and pursue creativity in the midst of war."

Rosenthal wrote ON THE ROCKS after a six-year struggle with writer's block. In her return to playwriting, Rosenthal revisited an idea she'd ever since an A-level teacher introduced her to Mansfield's stories at school; of exploring those outwardly idyllic but ill-fated months in Cornwall. There are echoes of Rosenthal's creative anxiety in the character of Katherine, who struggled with writer's block throughout her life. "I like to think [Mansfield] would be as thrilled as I am that ON THE ROCKS is being produced in her native New Zealand" says Rosenthal.

ON THE ROCKS opens on June 19. Macgregor encourages audiences to enjoy this play about "what happens when a friendship gets too close for comfort and a refreshing look at two literary titans who were, at their core, women, and men, in love."

ON THE ROCKS by Amy Rosenthal
Directed by: Lara Macgregor
Venue: Court One, The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Cast: Claire Dougan, Ali Harper, Jon Pheloung and Jason Whyte
Production Dates: 19 June - 17 July 2010
Performances: 6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
2pm matinee Saturday 26 June
Tickets: Adults $45, Senior Citizens $38, Tertiary Students $26, School Children $15, Group discount (20+) $36, Matinee $29 (26 June only)
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or

· Amy Rosenthal is the daughter of actress Maureen Lipman and playwright Jack Rosenthal CBE. Her previous play HENNA NIGHT won the Sunday Times Drama Award 1999 in the UK.
· Lara Macgregor is the Associate Artistic Director of The Court Theatre and has directed numerous plays in The Forge. ON THE ROCKS is her Court One directorial debut.

From This Author - Charlie Piane