Careful what you wish for - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 217

Careful what you wish for by Madelaine Empson

Arts Laureate Michael Hurst ONZM needed to come up with an idea for a solo show stat. For some reason, The Golden Ass popped into his head.

“I had read the Robert Graves translation quite a few years ago in connection with a paper I was studying called Love and Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome and I remember being very taken with its invocation of the ancient world – the colour and light and noise of it”, the prolific stage and screen actor says. “It was a bawdy, weirdly spiritual world of cults and magic. I was particularly affected by the transformation and redemption of the central character at the end of the journey. And I thought it was a great title.”

He and his team succeeded in pitching the adaptation of Apuleius’ 2000-year-old original, “which was fantastic”. But then, as he says, he needed to actually make it. 30 venues across the country later and “it’s fantastic to see how this stuff reaches across the centuries to still be funny and provocative and moving”.

From the 20th of April to the 11th of May, Hurst will grace Circa Theatre with his golden presence. Coming at you full force via ancient Rome, his adaptation (with additional text by Fiona Samuel) sees ambitious young author Lucius travelling to a strange town to research his book on witchcraft. Full of his own importance, Lucius is made to undergo a magical transformation that teaches him the perils of getting what you ask for.

Hurst, who co-directs The Golden Ass alongside John Gibson, hopes this laugh-out-loud funny, subversively philosophical production shows audiences that the more things change, the more they are the same.

“I think it’s always grand to be reminded of our humanity. And our need for empathy.”

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