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Stephen Sinclair's "Drawer of Knives" At Circa

Stephen Sinclair returns to Circa with a fascinating psychological drama.

When Sarah moves in downstairs from dysfunctional couple Den and Russell, dark passions distill into intense hatred and each character develops strong motives for killing either of the other two. Exploring multiple scenarios, the result is a masterful study of wits and wanton betrayal as the plot flirts with the audience as to who’ll draw a knife first.

Directed by Danny Mulheron
Paul McLaughlin
Miranda Manasiadis
Lucy Briant

The team that brought you The Bach returns with Circa Two’s 30th birthday production, the world premier of

Drawer of Knives

By Stephen Sinclair

Dates: 22 April – 20 May
When: 7.30 Tues-Sat, 4.30 Sun
Duration: approx. 1 hour 15 mins.
Where: Circa Two
1 Taranaki St
Bookings: 801 7992

Full: $35
Groups (6+): $30
Seniors: $28
Students: $28
Beneficiaries: $28
Under 25’s: $20

Stephen Sinclair

Stephen Sinclair is one of New Zealand's most successful playwrights and screenwriters. His play, The Sex Fiend (co-written with Danny Mulheron) which premiered at Bats Theatre in 1989, went on to play return seasons in all the main centres. Ladies Night, co-written with Anthony McCarten, and which premiered in Auckland in 1987, continues to be performed internationally with productions in Germany, Scandinavia, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. It has toured Australia, Canada, and France where it won the Moliere Award for Best Stage Comedy for 2001. It has been touring the UK since 1990. Other plays include The Bellbird, Braindead: The Musical and Blowing It. In 1990 he co-scripted the feature film Meet The Feebles and in 1991 Braindead, which subsequently won Best Screenplay at the 1993 New Zealand Film and Television Awards. He worked with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson on the scripts for the three-feature film adaptation of Lord of the Rings, earning a screen credit on The Two Towers. Stephen’s Chapman Tripp Theatre Award-winning play, The Bach, Played Circa 1 January last year.

Director’s Notes

Stephen Sinclair is possibly the worst salesman for his own plays that ever existed. When he thought I might like to read a script of The Bach he said it was just about a couple of brothers bitching about the film commission. As it turned out The Bach proved to be one of his most popular plays and tapped deep into the racial nervousness that is besetting New Zealand today in a comic and dramatic way. Drawer of Knives he described as something he wrote and left alone because he though it might be too weird and I believe it is his most accomplished piece of writing yet. Drawer of knives is about the possibilities of murder. A cross between Shallow Grave and Sliding Doors. It is a classic tale that could have come from J.M. Cain that Stephen has ripped apart and told as if it had three different paths all at once. The easiest way to describe it is as a sexually charged thriller exploring each side of a triangular relationship. It is by far the most challenging play I have had to direct and I am enjoying it immensely. I am hugely lucky to have Paul Mclaughlin as my Leading man. Paul is an actor that I have worked with a lot and he brings the physique and menace of a Burt Lancaster or Robert Mitchum to the role of Russell. Leading men are sometimes hard to find in New Zealand and we are lucky to have someone like Paul here who hasn’t pissed off to Australia yet. Lucy Briant who has recently returned from Australia plays Denise, Russell's emotionally detached long-time girlfriend. Denise is a cold woman who describes herself as nothing but scar tissue but she probably leaves more scars on her boyfriend than herself. Lucy hasn’t been seen on the Wellington stage for a while and will be a great new face and talent for a sometimes-jaded audience. Miranda Manasiadis plays Sarah, a lonely and desperate woman living beneath the couple. It is a great character and Miranda has grabbed it with enormous passion. Right from when I read the play I had Miranda in mind for it and she has repaid that faith in spades, the same spade Sarah buries the bodies with under the house. What I think is most satisfying are the women’s roles in this play are among the best. Like Barbara Stanwyck and Lana Turner in Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, Sarah and Denise switch between heartless cruelty and heartfelt emotions faster than you can change gear. Both manipulative and man-hungry the only thing they never are is victims. There is always a way out even if it means getting rid of everyone else.


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