HAUSDOWN - Reviewed by Stanford Reynolds | Regional News Connecting Wellington


Written by: Ruby Carter and Katie Hill

Directed by: Katie Hill

BATS Theatre, 28th Nov 2023

Reviewed by: Stanford Reynolds

Fans of Jane Austen and Regency-era drama are being spoiled with a range of productions on Wellington stages, and HAUSDOWN is a refreshing and joyfully queer take on this, revelling in the inherent queerness in the extravagance of the period.

Plays that are set in the Regency era benefit greatly from attentiveness to technical elements such as costume and set in order to bring the period to life. HAUSDOWN excels at this. Costumes (Ruby Carter) are delightfully camp, capturing the characters and their world well. The rainbow palette across the different characters is a nice touch. 

The set (Scott Maxim) is also evocative and feels at home with the theatre’s stained-glass dome above. The floor is painted as concrete-coloured tiles, and a wall has been constructed to run across the back of the stage, closing in the space and giving the impression of a more traditional box set, which serves the play and period fittingly. The centre of the back wall is a large window of opaque plastic, which is then lit from behind (Teddy O’Neill) to assist in setting the scene. While there are some dark spots and unevenness in the lighting, there is a lot of creative use of colour, furthering the playfulness of the show.

The eight actors are all completely committed to the exaggerated characters they play, keeping the pace and energy high throughout. They navigate sections of dialogue and more physical clowning (choreography and clowning by Daniel Nodder) with coordination and aplomb. The accents are consistent and add further levity to the performances, but at times lines are lost as dialogue is not enunciated clearly enough, and we want to catch every word when the pace of the story is so fast.

The play is short and sharp, and put together well with strong performances and technical elements that work in concert, even if I would have liked more material in the dialogue to help tell the story. That said, HAUSDOWN is goofy fun, certainly achieving Inconceivable Productions’ goal to share whimsical, queer joy.

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