Review: Con-artists’ tale magical performance

Actor Richard Dey (second from right), who plays the part of Otago Daily Times founder Sir Julius...
Actor Richard Dey (second from right), who plays the part of Otago Daily Times founder Sir Julius Vogel in The Devil’s Half-Acre, is joined by (from left) ODT editor Barry Stewart, Allied Press board chairman Sir Julian Smith and former ODT editor Geoff Adams as they peruse a reprint of an 1864 edition of the ODT.The newspaper was used as a prop during the play’s opening performance at the Fortune Theatre on Saturday night. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
The Devil’s Half-Acre

Fortune Theatre,
Saturday October 1

Reviewed by Kimberly Buchan

The Devil’s Half-Acre is a Dunedin slum from the 1860s. It is populated by prostitutes, gamblers, thieves, the addicted and the afflicted.

Jack and Dylan are two con artist brothers looking to escape their past who have settled in the titular slum.

They are scratching a living through sleight-of-hand tricks targeting new arrivals on the wharves.

A mysterious man watches them from the shadows.

When he makes himself known to the two brothers he makes them an offer too good to be true, too good to refuse.

At first the brothers enjoy conning the marks selected by their new boss, but as they get more and more entwined in the secret plot being woven around them they find themselves fighting for their own souls.

Richard Dey and Ralph McCubbin Howell play the brooding and hopeful Jack and Dylan.

Anya Tate-Manning and Tom Clarke play the rest of the inhabitants of the slum.

All four work beautifully with each other and with the projected characters flickering on Meg Rollandi’s metal set.

Director Hannah Smith has brought together a truly fantastic cast and crew.

The combination of sound design, the projections and the set add an extra layer of magic.

Together they create a show that starts with a ghostly figure dancing in some green steam and only gets better from there.

The Devil’s Half-Acre is brought to the Dunedin Festival of the Arts by Trick of the Light Theatre and sponsored by the Otago Daily Times.

It features many trademarks of this wonderful theatre company such as silhouettes, puppetry, and a sellout season.

This does mean that the performers may want to consider the back rows of the theatre in terms of projection. If you have managed to secure yourself a ticket, you are in for a magical performance.

If you haven’t, then sell your soul and you might get lucky.


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