New Anzac play first class

The first public outing of Dave Armstrong's topical play, Anzac Eve, changed the perceptions of the largely young audience who had a chance to see a work in progress.

Although only a workshop production, the quality of the writing, direction (by Jamie McCaskill), and acting held a packed house without need of sets, lighting or effects.

It was not only first class entertainment but also a chance to obtain an understanding of what really happened a century ago.

Four young travellers meet at Gallipoli the night before the Anzac ceremonies.

The two Kiwi guys and two Australian girls soon progress from typical cross-Tasman bickering to discussing why they have made the journey. Prejudices are aired, myths bust and parallels drawn between then and now.

It's a strong exploration of unsavoury fact versus popular fiction, and also allows Armstrong to feature favourite subjects that people prefer to avoid such as race, sexuality, religion, depression and suicide.

Anzac Eve deserves funding to tour schools and take professional stages.

• New talent abounds at this festival, and Like There's No Tomorrow is home-grown, performed almost exclusively by Mount Aspiring College pupils, giving an insight into how teens tackle the sudden accidental death of one of their peers.

It's a raw revelation of teenage trauma, witnessed as the audience is absorbed into a wild and wandering end-of-the-world party that involves a tiki-tour of the Gin and Raspberry venue.

Dress in layers, wear comfortable shoes.

The show is ragged and bitsy, confused and contrary, uneven and uncertain, and probably should be obligatory for blinkered parents who might have forgotten what being young is all about.

It's also daring, innovative and full of passion.

Even by festival standards, this is brilliant fringe.

Recommended.

• Nigel Zega 

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