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‘We Have Boys At Home’ Brings Audiences Behind The Curtain In Maxwell’s Newest Venture

Jam Smith as Christian (left) and Rachael Bloemendal as Skye receive acting instructions from Jay (Photo supplied)

‘We Have Boys at Home’ brings audiences behind the curtain in Maxwell’s newest venture.

We Have Boys at Home, the latest play by local writer-director Conor Maxwell, is nearing the end of its rehearsal journey. It follows the lovestruck Meg and her ever-suffering bestie Jay as they road trip from Hamilton to Napier to meet Meg’s long-distance boyfriend Ryan. But there is a twist in this seemingly-straightforward love story: the road trip already happened a year ago. Audiences will instead be watching a play-within-a-play recreation of the events, as told by Meg, well after the fact. And that play-within-a-play is bound to go wrong. We Have Boys at Home is both a play and a meta-theatrical lens into the staging of a play, and this intriguing conceit is rife with comedic potential.

“The intention of the concept” says Maxwell, “is to show on-stage the kind of things that go on behind the scenes of a play, and in the rehearsal process, that never make it to stage. Script changes, fights over creative direction, weird character choices, these usually get ironed out before a show gets in front of an audience. Not this time.” What initially is a story about long-distance love quickly becomes about the present reality of the fracturing friendship between Meg and Jay. “It addresses questions such as ‘how long is too long to wait to rekindle a smouldering friendship?’ and ‘is it worth putting your whole life on hold for the sake of a boy who lives four hours away?’” As Meg and friends recreate the events of the road trip one year prior, she is forced to face the consequences of her selfish and dismissive actions in the pursuit of a romantic fantasy.

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The central characters of Meg and Jay are played by Hannah-Rose Cook and Bronwyn Laundry; two extremely talented and versatile performers well-known to local audiences. Laundry made her theatrical debut as the lead actor in one of Maxwell’s previous comedies, The Lonely Hearts Assembly (2021) while Cook in recent years has taken the musical theatre world by storm, with standout performances in the likes of That Bloody Woman and Grease (both in 2022). As the friendship (or sometimes, lack of) between Meg and Jay is at the heart of We Have Boys at Home’s narrative, Laundry and Cook have the difficult but rewarding task of playing up the comedy in the script, while also presenting the nuance and bittersweet beats of a friendship on the precipice of a devastating change. About her character, Laundry says “Jay is just a silly, goofy gal who wants to be taken seriously”, which is something that Meg, in her self-centered narrative, often refuses to do.

Rounding out the cast are Jam Smith and Rachael Bloemendal, who play Christian and Skye, two friends of Jay roped in to help her with the production of Meg’s play. This commitment involves them playing every character in the play (aside from Meg and Jay themselves), from customer service workers, to friends and ex-partners, to the headlights on Jay’s beat-up car. Bloemendal, also a renowned musical theatre performer, reflected on this opportunity to get out of her comfort zone in the theatre world, saying of the rehearsal process that “it has been great for me to really hone in on my craft, including my foundation acting techniques, and even try something new with the comedy side of things.” Bloemendal brings a dynamic and energetic quality to each of her many unique characters.

We Have Boys at Home is brought to life by Infinite Monkey Theatre Company, founded by the aforementioned Jam Smith. Smith is a talented writer-director in their own right, making their creative debut in 2019 with Four Kings, and most recently staging their one-person show wish i was there in 2022, as Infinite Monkey’s first production. As an exciting new theatre company, Infinite Monkey aims to create theatre that is Intimate, Innovative, and at an Industry-level of quality, for the viewing pleasure of audiences in Kirikiriroa and beyond. Speaking on this production, Smith says “We Have Boys at Home fits beautifully into our ethos and kaupapa; it is a story told in an innovative way, the meta-textual nature of the writing isn’t one seen very often, at least in Kirikiriroa theatre spaces; while it is a sprawling road trip of a story, it is a beautifully intimate portrayal of friendship.”

You can witness the story of Meg and Jay’s friendship (the highs and the lows) for yourself at Hamilton’s Meteor Theatre at the end of May!

What: We Have Boys at Home
When: Wednesday 29 May- Saturday 1 June, 2024
Where: The Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton 3204
Cost: $30 Adult, $27 Student/Concession
R16: Contains frequent use of course language

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