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Blackbird: Michael Hurst and Liesha Ward Knox

Auckland Theatre Company
Media Release
ATTN: Culture
For Immediate Release

“You Left Me Alone. You Left Me In Love.”

Michael Hurst and Liesha Ward Knox star in Auckland Theatre Company’s BLACKBIRD, David Harrower’s electrifying and explosive new play opening at the Maidment Theatre on September 4.

A brilliant, unnerving and controversial modern tragedy that has riveted audiences worldwide, BLACKBIRD is a play that tests the limits of our taboos.

“An extraordinary, no-holds-barred drama” DAILY TELEGRAPH

Fifteen years ago, Una and Ray embarked on a relationship that changed their lives. Now Una has tracked down Ray in the debris-littered lunchroom of the factory where he works.

Is she seeking vengeance? Or something else altogether?

The international award winning hit of the Edinburgh Festival, the West End and Broadway, BLACKBIRD is a riveting study in sexual obsession that leaves one both shaken and stirred.

"With consummate skill and brooding ambiguity, Harrower suggests that there may be a strange affinity, tantamount to love, between people of different generations and that adult guilt and childhood innocence should never be automatically assumed" The Guardian

Hailed by reviewers in the UK as the most powerful drama in a decade, David Harrower's intense psychodrama is written with extraordinary economy and a fine ear for the poetics of prose.

As with David Mamet’s great plays, Harrower’s poetic yet conversational tone bring real humanity to two complex and damaged individuals, full of rage and fear, but who have a strange, disturbing affinity.

Having starred in THE GOAT, THE PILLOWMAN and recently directed THREEPENNY OPERA, Michael Hurst is no stranger to theatrical controversy.

“It is everything that I think theatre is supposed to be about,” says Hurst, “as a play it that break rules. It’s an assault our moral code which at the same time draws audiences into the skewed reality of the couple’s intense relationship.

Liesha Ward Knox who plays Una, says the play strips the characters bare.

”The characters are direct and painfully truthful about their ‘love’ story, yet their frankness leaves you with more questions than answers which is totally devastating.”
BLACKBIRD director Margaret-Mary Hollins, who was assistant director for ATC’s acclaimed production of THE CRUCIBLE, says the play’s bruising clash of perspectives shows how intense sexual relationships have the power to transform and paralyze the people caught up in them.

“BLACKBIRD is a powerhouse piece of theatre that will leave audiences stunned into silence; it’s had that effect on me in rehearsals. I’ve never experienced rehearsal room fireworks as charged or as intense as this. Michael and Liesha are breaking new ground with this work,” says Hollins.

Set and costume designer Robin Rawstorne, whose clever design for DESIGN FOR LIVING wowed audiences earlier this year, has teamed up with lighting designer Bryan Caldwell and sound designer Andrew McMillan to create the staff room where the meeting takes place.

“We have confined the action into a sliver of space on one side of the room to entrap the characters in a tort and littered room where the characters are forced to confront the debris of their own relationship,” he says, “the close proximity of stage to the audience also means views are brought right in close, which adds a sense of voyeurism to the expereince.”

BLACKBIRD plays at The Maidment Theatre from September 4 until September 27. Bookings can be made at the Maidment Theatre 09 308 2383 or

BLACKBIRD by David Harrower

Starring: Michael Hurst and Liesha Ward Knox
Writer: David Harrower
Direction: Margaret-Mary Hollins
Designers: Robin Rawstorne, Bryan Caldwell, Andrew McMillan

Maidment Theatre, September 4 – September 27
Tuesday - Wednesday 6.30pm, Thursday - Saturday 8.00pm
Monday 8 September, 6.30pm
Matinee Saturday 20 September at 2.00pm
Sundays 4.00pm
Tickets: $25 - $54 (booking fees apply)


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