‘Frequently Asked Questions’: Some Truly Fine Theatre!

I have literally just returned home from a very enjoyable excursion to the theatre – Downstage Theatre, it’s so charming! – where I saw a stunning performance called ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘. It’s part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival that’s happening at the moment in Wellington, which is always a fantastic showcase of talent and spectacle. Anyway, out of a long list of events that I wanted to go to, I narrowed it down to this play – I *am* a poor student, after all, so could really only afford to go to one.

And man, I do not regret picking ‘Frequently Asked Questions’! ๐Ÿ™‚

Firstly, let me give you a little info as to what it’s actually about. ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ focuses on a man named Hamlet, an insomniac who is haunted by some extremely gripping questions – for example, ‘What a piece of work is a man?’, ‘Am I a coward? Who calls me villain?’, and, unsurprisingly, ‘To be, or not to be?’ Oh, and the all-important ‘Why am I wearing tights?!’ *clears throat* Mm-hmmm. Hamlet, however, is not left to his own devices – he is paid a visit by his fellow famous tragic heroes: Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello. Chaos obviously ensues. Admist all the hilarity, however, the play still manages to end on a beautifully poignant note.

What is most striking and important to know about this play is that there is only one actor – Michael Hurst. And yep, you guessed it – that means he has to play more than one character at one time. A perfect set up for comedy – and Hurst really takes every opportunity that this presents to him. The different voices for each character are just spot-on, as were the particular affectations each character has. Macbeth was my personal favourite – I mean, the Scottish accent, and the copious amount of creative swearing? Genius! ๐Ÿ˜€ I made a special effort to commit my favourite line of his to memory – for future use, of course! – which was: ‘What are you doing, talking to me or chewing a brick? Because both’ll get your teeth knocked out!’ It totally sounds ten million times better if you say this with a Scottish accent, by the way. Probably the most frightfully funny element – and there were many! – was when Hurst had to stage a fight between Hamlet and Macbeth, and then between Macbeth and Othello. Frickin’ hilarious, watching someone beat himself up… teeheeee. Oh, and did I mention that Hurst fully fries an egg onstage, makes a sandwich, and eats it?! All while delivering his lines flawlessly. So yeah, I really applaud Michael Hurst for such amazing talent. *bows down* He’s a New Zealander, and I just read on his website that he has also directed several episodes of the current TV series ‘Spartacus’, which I adore! ๐Ÿ˜€ So that makes him even cooler. *nods*

As for the whole Shakespeare element of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, well… I’m sure you all know of my love affair with The Bard, and nothing pleases me more when people use Shakespeare in innovative and creative ways. Hurst drew so many clever quotes from his plays, it was a scholar’s dream. It all made me think of Tom Stoppard, and his fabulous play ‘Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead’. I’ve already shared with you my admiration for Tom Stoppard, and that particular play, which I was lucky enough to see performed in Wellington too. *sighs happily* One day, when I’ve published a novel and become wealthy, I’ll go to the theatre every week… ๐Ÿ™‚

So yeah, that was my extremely pleasant evening! ๐Ÿ˜‰ As this showing of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ is a ‘world’ premiere, I really hope it does well enough to take to other places around New Zealand, and then overseas too! Everyone should get to experience this awesomeness. If you’re currently in Wellington, I strongly encourage you to go along – the show is on until 11 March, and you can purchase tickets here ๐Ÿ™‚ Dooooo itttt! ๐Ÿ˜€

Finally, while we’re talking about the Arts Festival… it also includes the epic ‘Writers & Readers Week‘ which starts this coming week. It’s just brilliant!! *drools* The tickets are quite a lot cheaper than the other festival tickets, so I’ve treated myself to three ‘sessions’, which means three amazing writers… Jo Nesbรธ (his amazing Norwegian Crime novels with his detective Harry Hole), Alan Hollinghurst (awesome writer of ‘The Line Of Beauty’, and his most recent ‘The Stranger’s Child’), and Robert Shearman (the man who brought the Daleks back to the new RTD-revamped ‘Doctor Who’!). I am so excited, I can’t wait! I am sorely disappointed to have to miss out on the Harry Ricketts talk (I have class), but then… I don’t need to be too sad, as I’ll get to see him and soak in his brilliance quite often this year… because… he’s going to be my supervisor this year for my Postgraduate English Research!!

*hyperventilates* ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gosh, I’m such a fangirl.

I love Wellington.

Anyway, must away to bed. Farewell, my friends – parting is always such sweet sorrow. A thousand times, good night! ๐Ÿ˜€

Have fun!
Bri xx

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6 thoughts on “‘Frequently Asked Questions’: Some Truly Fine Theatre!

  1. Nice blog Briony! Glad you had such a good time. A shout out to writers Natalie Medlock & Dan Musgrove who formed the creative ‘power trio’ along with Michael.

    We’ll have some great student specials this year, so we hope you’ll be back and reviewing us again soon.

    (And you called us ‘charming’! *blush*)

    • brionyjae says:

      Gosh, yes, I suppose it’s almost easy to forget about those behind the scenes – obviously some great writing and directing talent there too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I do love Downstage, so glad that it’s back in business now after its break. The first show I saw there was ‘Mates & Lovers’ which was just fantastic… sure hope to make it along to some more performances this year – student specials sound spectacular! ๐Ÿ™‚

      (That’s because you are charming! The building, the people… just like a great theatre should be *sighs happily*)

  2. cheesein says:

    Don’t forget Michael Hurst’s long running stint on the American TV show Hercules! While he never gets to fully show off his Shakespearean acting chops, it’s always a blast to watch him have WAY too much fun delivering his lines and beating up bad guys. I think he directed a lot of episodes too….

    • brionyjae says:

      Ohh, good point! I shall have to get my hands on a copy of that somehow ๐Ÿ™‚ You can *definitely* tell that he loves what he does, right! ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. Soprender122 says:

    Ok – this blows my mind. How can someone beat himself up on stage!? I just can’t wrap my head around it! Obviously, you say he manages to do it and does it well. Is he in really good shape or something? Uug I want to see this now!

    • brionyjae says:

      It does sound pretty impossible, doesn’t it! But it is absolutely what he does – and he’s not exactly gentle with himself, either! He must be in good shape – I mean, he *is* mighty fine for a man of his age… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ah, the sacrifices we make for art! ๐Ÿ˜›

      And you should definitely try to see one of the shows, if you can!! It’s on ’til Sunday ๐Ÿ™‚

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