Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hands down

I’m glad to see someone—Playmarket director Mark Amery
in a letter to the Listener—reminding us that the dramatic
potential exploited by Anthony McCarten in his movie
Show of Hands was first perceived not by him, as articles
about the film imply, but by Deborah Tucker and Stephen
Bain nearly 15 years ago. Inspired by a Lower Hutt car-yard
competition, in which whoever kept their hand longest on a
Honda City Turbo won it, these two talented thesps
produced the play City of Hands, which ran at Bats Theatre
in 1994 and was described by the Listener’s Wellington
theatre critic at the time, some rooster called Welch, as
having been done “stunningly well.” I’ve read several
interviews with McCarten about the genesis of his film, and
in only one of them does he even glancingly refer to this
production. Bad form, Anthony. You’re a good writer
yourself, and, on the evidence of Show of Hands, a skilled
film director, but credit where credit’s due. Ironically,
towards the end of the film I noticed that fine actress Dra
McKay as a crowd extra; she was the star of the original
play. Show of Hands, by the way, though beautifully and
even lovingly made, ultimately fails as a film because
McCarten loads it with too much moral freight. The point
of the original, and the reason it succeeded so well, was
that the competition brought low-income earners together
in a weird kind of solidarity at a time when benefits were
being slashed and times were tough. It was an economic
parable—not a love story, or at least not the kind McCarten
tries to make it. Five out of 10.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these delicate informations. I just had the opportunity to see "City of hands" in a german translation ("Die Stadt der Hände"). The actors were proud of having translated the piece by themselves. And of course they had got the permission of the author and they did mention the original piece "City of hands". - In my opinion it's a very fine story and it's worth being played in many places.

justin said...

Here is the news report that sparked this