04 November 2013

CON: “more twists than a JAFA sex scandal.”

CON producer Howard Taylor talks to drama on the waterfront about being conned and "spoilers".

"When I first read Gavin McGibbon’s script for CON I was impressed with how smart and clever it is. Of course it immediately had me remembering the times I have felt conned. Most of those times seem to have happened when I was overseas playing tourist – a time when you are out of your comfort zone and so a little insecure, and as a result, a little paranoid.

The elderly gypsy woman at the gates of the Alhambra thrust a sprig of fresh rosemary into my hand. (Trick one: lower the mark’s resistance by giving rather than taking.) Having gained my attention she then insisted on telling me my fortune – I would have several more beautiful children (despite my vasectomy) and, of course, live to a ripe old age. Finally she demanded to be paid for the ‘service’.

Howard Taylor.
Then there was the tuk-tuk driver in Bankok who promised to take us straight to the Royal Palace – once he had refuelled. While he was doing that he would just deposit us at his uncle’s carpet/jewellery/souvenir emporium which was around the corner from the petrol station. We refused his offer and walked away to find another tuk-tuk. Suddenly he didn’t need to refuel and, grumbling and muttering, drove us to the Palace. However we pulled up at a small gate in the Palace wall where a crowd of tuk-tuk drivers hovered. Unfortunately, we were told, the palace doesn’t open till after lunch so would we like a very cheap sightseeing trip to…. No we wouldn’t thank you. And the main gate is just around the corner and yes, the palace IS open for tours.

Mike Minogue and Jason Whyte in CON. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
Understanding that these people are just trying to make a living doesn’t lesson the anger. It is easy to become suspicious of everyone, but of course, most people are genuinely nice, helpful and trustworthy – like you and me.

Which brings me back to CON. Gavin’s characters are all living by their own moral codes. They each have their own reasons for acting the way they do. Is there really honour among thieves? Gavin asks us who do we trust? What makes us trust? Are we all actors using smoke and mirrors to persuade the world we are other than we really are?

Trust is essential to love. What happens when messy love thrusts itself into this tightly CONtrolled scene?

Acushla-Tara Sutton and Mike Minogue in CON. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

CON is getting great word-of-mouth from pleased punters. One of the frustrations for writers and directors is avoiding spoilers that give the game away for audiences before they see the show. Admittedly, this can make a critic’s job more difficult but one of the skills of critics is giving the flavour of the production without giving away the surprises. We have been pleased by the lack of spoilers for a show that, more than most, is dependent on the surprising, sometimes gob-smacking plot twists and ‘how did they do that?’ magic. As Jarod, Word on the Street reviewer, said: CON “will leave you gasping!” And playwright Dave Armstrong said on Opening Night, CON has “more twists than a JAFA sex scandal.” So tell your friends to go, but DON’T GIVE AWAY THE PLOT."

- Howard Taylor
CON Producer

Paul McLaughlin and Mike Minogue in CON. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
CON is on in Circa Two until 23 November. To book, visit www.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992.

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