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Review of Erewhon, Arthur Meek’s take on Samuel Butler’s Utopian novel


The results of a playwright exchange between Scotland and New Zealand, Erewhon is Arthur Meek’s take on Samuel Butler’s 19th century Utopian novel. Based on Butler’s experiences in New Zealand, the book was a satirical critique of Empire. It took the form of a narrative of discovery, a man documenting the strange land in which he finds himself.

Meek, with the aid of an antique Victorian magic lantern, through which he feeds a selection of slides by artists from New Zealand, the UK and the US, provides an alternative version of the text. He describes it as a corrective. The society he describes is one in which women are dominant, technology has become obsolete and chaos is worshipped. The iPhone has become a relic. People are no longer enslaved by their devices.

Meek filters his storytelling through a contemporary lens of white male privilege and post-colonialism.

It’s an intriguing concept and Meek delivers it in an engaging fashion. The lantern in itself is a fascinating device and there’s pleasure in watching him operate it. But the different elements of Nicholas Bone and Geoff Pinfield’s production – the magic lantern backdrops, Eva Prowse’s live music and Meek’s storytelling – don’t really gel together and the nature of the material and the form of the piece, part lecture, part slide show, make for a relatively static experience.

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Production Details
Production nameErewhon
StartsAugust 2, 2018
EndsAugust 28, 2018
Running time1hr
AuthorArthur Meek
ComposerEva Prowse
DirectorGeoff Pinfield, Nicolas Bone
Lighting designerNigel Edwards
CastArthur Meek, Eva Prowse
ProducerArthur Meek, Magnetic North
VerdictIntriguing update of Samuel Butler’s Utopian novel with magic lantern slides
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Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

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