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Central Otago Man is a play about Otago born and bred Tryfen Gribilco, who runs a high-end bungy-jumping business with the assistance of the rule-abiding Marty Wellings.
Tryfen’s claim early in the first scene of the Taieri Dramatic Society production that "everyone is entitled to my opinion" lays the groundwork for the dogmatic, un-PC preaching that ensues.
The clients for the day, who include an Australian senator and his daughter, a German UN delegate and her assistant and a Dutch backpacker, provide the perfect "captive congregation" for Tryfen to unload his views on everything from international political affairs to matters of the heart.
The play skims the surface of a range of societal issues beginning by challenging the complexity of masculinity in modern society. Tryfen presents as a bloke’s bloke, admonishing Marty’s fondness for Star Trek and physical contact with other men.
But Tryfen relinquishes his tough exterior to recite poetry and to claim that heaven is peace and beauty. In his conversations with clients, he challenges the battle of agricultural production against IT services and governments against corporations. These battles are settled by the calming beauty of "the go" (Central Otago).
The set is laid out cleverly, with two areas segregated to allow for the narrative to develop. Rob Monzari plays Tryfen with a natural, easy charm that makes him feel familiar to the audience. The script provides the remainder of the cast with predominately one-dimensional characters, particularly the female roles, allowing for mostly stereotypical versions of Australians, Germans and backpackers. However, the cast makes the most of these weaknesses and all perform faultlessly. I particularly enjoyed David Thomson as the French assistant Pierre Malisse.
Central Otago Man is a play that attempts to challenge people’s perspectives. It shows how bringing people back to basics and opening up to alternative viewpoints of the world can incite change in even the most stagnant of men.
- by Emer Lyons
Central Otago Man
• Fire Station Theatre, Mosgiel, Thursday, June 8