The reading of 8 at the Maidment Theatre, chronicled the federal trial for marriage equality in California in 2010, with the script based on words, interviews and testimonies.
Twenty-one talented local actors took to the stage and confidently portrayed the characters on both sides of the debate and the incredible hush that descended on the capacity audience was testimony in itself to their immense ability to deliver this unique piece of theatre. Even though each actor had a script in their hand, that was quickly forgotten with it blending as a prop.
Taking this kind of factual material and transcripts and moulding a play would prove challenging but writer, Dustin Lance Black, of Milk and J.Edgar fame took us on a journey through words that were heartfelt, clearly informative and with wonderful pockets of humour. Though set in California, the theme of marriage equality transfers to New Zealand easily. Same-sex love and the necessity of equality is the same across all sorts of vast oceans.
The cast was incredibly talented and all displayed excellent American accents. It wouldn’t have been the same with our Kiwi sounds.
Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand convincingly portrayed lesbian couple Sandy and Kris while Heath Jones and Ben Barrington played Jeff and Paul. Both factual couples filed suit against Proposition 8 in Federal Court. The on stage duos delivered their dialogue beautifully, giving great insight into the varied backgrounds of each individual and their partnership with each having their own monologue. I am sure the audience could relate and connect to some, most or all of their experiences. Peter Elliott and Stuart Devine played opposing lawyers and guided us ably through a mine field of federal jargon and often highly entertaining cross examinations.
It was certainly not a happy ever after verdict, but was another small step in the battle and fight for equality.
For more information, visit www.8theplay.com.