Modern Girls in Bed was one of the best plays I’ve been to for a long time.
The synopsis is a couple of millenial girls decide to stay in bed forever because life sucks. And they get visited by five famous New Zealand women from the past.
Now on the basis of that summary, you might think it won’t be very good. But in fact a very clever plot and some great acting makes a great production. It has heaps of laughter, lots of drama and some very poignant sadness.
The main actress is Maria Williams as Ally. She is the one who decides to stay in bed forever. Williams makes Ally funny and real with her insistence on peppering every sentence with “absolutely.
Her BFF and “sister” is Petra (played by Isadora Leo). She is less convinced of the wisdom of a bed-in but joins in to support her friend.
The five women from the past quite literally pop up in their bed. You have Katherine Mansfield (Alex Lodge), Kate Sheppard (Amy Tarleton), Heni Pore (Bronwyn Turei), Helen Hitchings (Renée Sheridan) and Akenehi Hei (Maia Diamond).
The interactions with the girls and each other are often funny. Katherine Mansfield flirts with everyone and seems very taken with Helen Hitchings. Kate Sheppard is extremely preachy and a highlight of hilarity is Ally telling her to STFU.
The first half is funny and light hearted. You are wondering a bit though about what it is all about.
The second half provides the answers. Katherine Mansfield, Kate Sheppard and Heni Pore turns into Ally’s aunts. Helen Hitchings her mother and Akenehi Hei becomes a more modern nurse.
Some of the characteristics carry through. For example the self righteous Kate Sheppard is now a Green Party List MP always going on about how hard it is to save everyone.
You become aware of why Ally is really so upset and refusing to come out of bed. You see her relationship with her BFF tested. And you see the struggles of a family facing a terrible challenge.
The all female cast do a great job of bringing their characters alive – the idiosyncrasies of their historical characters and the foibles of their modern characters.
As I said this was one of the best plays I have seen in recent years. It’s on at Circa until 22 September.