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The South Island run by the French? Quelle Horreur!

16 Jul 2009

This content is tagged as Theatre .

NEWS

A new comedy by Dave Armstrong imagines what might have been.

“It’s très bien, très bien. This was pure satire, guaranteed to mildly offend pretty much everyone along the way, but in very good heart. It was a huge hit.”Lynn Freeman Radio New Zealand

In the late 1830s the South Island came close to being colonised by the French, with a large French settlement in Akaroa and negotiations to purchase more land from local Iwi.

Le Sud, a new comedy by award-winning writer Dave Armstrong (Niu Sila, The Tutor, King and Country and Kia Ora Khalid) imagines what might have happened if the French succeeded, splitting New Zealand into separate countries.

The French-colonized South Island (Le Sud) adheres to the typical French way of life: people only work 30 hours a week, enjoy long wine-fuelled lunches, and the popular Prime Minister, Francois Duvauchelle, is a renowned womaniser.

The English-speaking citizens of the North Island (North Zealand) are far less happy. North Zealanders work long hours for little reward, their free-market experiment ended in disaster and race relations are at rock bottom. Starved of much-needed electricity, North Zealand lives in permanent recession.

Le Sud is the story of a delegation from North Zealand traveling to Le Sud to negotiate for the supply of electricity. What follows is a hilarious series of plots, power plays, cultural clashes, and sexual shenaniganswhich sees Dave Armstrong manage to poke fun at almost all our sacred political, sporting, religious, sexual, racial and cultural values.

“Their driving quest, to negotiate a credible electricity price, generates some excellent satirical shocks at the expense of socialism and monetarism, French and Kiwi, Māori and Pakeha. No sacred cow is left unjabbed which, of course, is the currency of such comedy…There are laughs aplenty, not only at topical quips, the shafting of 'political correctness' and the witty insights into cultural differences, but also at Duvauchelle's tutoring of Peterson in the finer arts of seduction”John Smythe

The challenge facing a playwright with a brilliant concept is sustaining it for 90 minutes. Armstrong never misses his targets, and Le Sud shows invention and originality right to the end. Challenge met. “Otago Daily Times.

Commissioned by Wanaka’sFestival of Colour,Le Sudhad itsworld premiere in May 2009. Wanaka turned French for the sold-out season with many local businesses putting up French decorations and restaurants adopting French menus. In Wellington, Downstage theatre will be linking in with Alliance Francaise and other French businesses to help involve Wellington’s vibrant French community.

Starring: Gavin Rutherford, Nick Dunbar, Mark Ruka, Heather O’Carroll, Olivia Robinson and Barnaby Frederic

Directed by Conrad Newport

Le Sud

Dates: 5 Aug - 22 Aug

Times: 6:30pm Tue-Wed and 8pm Thu-Sat.

Prices: $25 to $45.

Meet the Artists: Tue 11 Aug

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at (04) 801 6946 or in person at Downstage’s box office. For up-to-date information visit www.downstage.co.nz

Downstage is proudly sponsored by BNZ.

END

For further information on Le Sud and interview requests please contact: Downstage Theatre, Marketing, phone: (04) 802 6392, email: marketing@downstage.co.nz

Further media resources are available to download at www.downstage.co.nz/media

More about Dave Armstrong: Wellington writer Dave Armstrong has written extensively for screen and stage. He won Best New New Zealand Play three times at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for The Tutor and Niu Sila (co-written with Oscar Knightley) and where we once belonged. His musical play King and Country won best dramatic production in the 2008 New Zealand Radio Awards. Dave's television credits include Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby and Bro’town,