Howick Little Theatre’s next stage production may change the minds of anyone who thinks there are no laughs to be had at an event as sombre as a wake.
The theatre is this month staging the New Zealand premiere of the black comedy The Viewing Room, written by Mark Smith and directed by Ian Milnes.
The plot centres on the fictional character Chester Dumbrosky, the dead patriarch of his family, who returns from beyond the grave on the day of his wake to resolve problems he’d created when alive.
Only his family can see him once he returns, and not all of his relatives are thrilled to have him back.
Among the cast members preparing for opening night is actor Dominique Pritchard, who plays the Dumbrosky family’s youngest daughter, Debby.
Pritchard is a former Howick resident and a previous office manager at Howick Little Theatre.
She says the play is “quite comedic and quite emotional”.
The character of Chester Dumbrosky is a child of the Great Depression and served in World War II, she says.
“His kids are Baby Boomers and his son Matthew feels like he didn’t get enough attention and affection from his father,” Pritchard says.
“Debby appears to be psychic. She channels voices, reads tarot and that sort of thing, and seems like she’s out for attention.
“Chester’s kids feel like they missed out on a lot with their dad, and he’s saying he did the best he could.
“There’s some unfinished business there that they get settled.”
Pritchard says she and her fellow cast members have been perfecting their North American accents as the story is set in Massachusetts in the US in 2004.
She says Debby is fun to play and in some ways is similar to people she knows.
“When I read through the script I try to think of people I know who the character reminds me of.
“There are people in my extended family I can draw on, and getting the costume down helps you embody the character.”
She says audiences can expect to see comedic scenes coupled with “very touching emotional moments”.
“It ends on a really lovely note.”
- The Viewing Room
Directed by Ian Milnes
Howick Little Theatre, 1 Sir Lloyd Dive, Pakuranga
Season: July 10-31