A child’s view explored in sensitive play

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Prospect Park Productions presents Eloise in the Middle, by Emily Duncan
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, October 2

The impact of parental separation on children is explored with sensitivity and heart in Emily Duncan’s Eloise in the Middle.

Directed by Jordan Dickson, the play features Sara Georgie in the twin roles of seven year-old Eloise and her loving, but frustrated mum Karen.

Their calm everyday lives are disrupted when Eloise’s dad Dennis calls and invites her to stay in Wellington.

The little girl is initially keen, but then becomes concerned about issues of importance to the young – what will her bed be like? what food will there be for breakfast?

She is also apprehensive about spending time with her dad – she knows what her mum’s anger is like, but what about his?

Time will tell, as the visit to Wellington unfolds, not entirely successfully.

In a bravura performance, Georgie shifts between little Eloise and Karen, beautifully and believably inhabiting both roles with shifts in voice and physicality.

Staged in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery auditorium, on a simple, yet adaptable set designed by Simon Anderson, Eloise in the Middle also features audio visual elements and animations.

These are the result of sterling work by sound designer Matt Morgan, lighting designer Garry Keirle, videographer Samuel Bingham, stage manager Mac Veitch, AV tech Anna van den Bosch, and animations by Otago Polytechnic Communication Design students.

It all combines seamlessly to fill this essentially one-woman play with richly imagined characters and scenes.

While Eloise in the Middle contains many moments of humour, it takes a sobering look at a heart-wrenching situation faced by a growing number of New Zealand families.

And it’s essential message – spare a thought for your children – is something more parents should heed.

Eloise in the Middle is excellent, thought-provoking theatre, and continues at the DPAG auditorium until Saturday, October 6. Book at eventbrite.co.nz