Fri, Feb 16, 2024 4:00 PM

Small cast bring big characters to life


Paula Hulburt

A cast of talented Marlburians have been working closely together to bring a new comedy to life.

Central Otago Manis based on a real-life character renowned writer Justin Eade met many years ago in Queenstown.

Played by Blenheim performer Chris Valli, Tryfen Gribilco is outspoken, self-centred and happy to share his thoughts.

But the character has a more vulnerable side, which is what attracted him to the part, Chris says.

“The appeal is the backstory to a bungy operator who is that stereotypical southern man who has a strong conviction that his way is the only way and through working on the land, he has the resilience or the aptitude to call a spade a spade.

“I think his vulnerability is the narrative behind the narrative - why aren't more people in society exposing or talking about vulnerability? It's a strength not a weakness.”

Tryfen runs a bungy jump platform with a young, by-the-book offsider Marty Wellings. Untouched by the ravages of political correctness, he has a captive audience in the clients he has trussed up on his bridge.

Billed as the “classic Kiwi Bungy-jump comedy”, the cast also features Racheal Kenyon, Billy Rayner, Megan Ponder-West and Vincent van Kuyk.

Directed by Geoff Anderson, the show has been in rehearsal since January.

Working with friends he knows from previous productions has made the demanding schedule a pleasure, Chris says.

“The beauty of this play is that there are no harmonies or melodies to learn, and the small cast are close mates from previous productions like Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera, Full Monty or Blackadder.

“There is a trust already installed and that is a healthy place to develop the narrative and push beyond the deeper message or theme.

“A comedy allows people to hear some uncomfortable dialogue, to tell it like it is - in a world that is politically correct.

“Sometimes honest conversations are needed for transparency and developing all forms of relationships.

“Folk need a laugh and an escape - live theatre does this through an organic process where people can make connections and react.

“Theatre is about an opinions - this show showcases opinions and then some....”

Central Otago Man is on from February 22 to March 2 ASB Theatre Marlborough.

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