Cheat of the moment

by Harry Ricketts / 18 November, 2006
What David Geary and Justin Gregory do in their play The Underarm, and it's a brilliant stroke, is develop the brother motif.

You know the story. February 1, 1981. New Zealand v Australia in a one-dayer. NZ needs six to tie off the last ball, No 11 Brian McKechnie facing. Aussie captain Greg Chappell orders the bowler, his younger brother Trevor, to bowl a daisycutter. He does; NZ loses. The most unsporting incident in cricket history since Bodyline in the early 1930s.

What David Geary and Justin Gregory do in their play The Underarm, and it's a brilliant stroke, is develop the brother motif. Brothers Col and Don - one Kiwi, the other Aussie - meet on the bank at the Basin Reserve for a present-day test between the two transtasman rivals. When rain delays the start of play (some neat voiceover from John Morrison), Col and Don decide to re-create the events of that fateful day at the MCG, inviting the audience to act as judge and jury. The result is an often hilarious potted history of the match with some well-directed leg-pulls at Aussie-Kiwi relations. Amid much fraternal sledging (plus booing and cheering from the audience), we also discover why Col lives here and Don across the ditch.

Alan Brunton's Don appears at first the epitome of Aussie swagger with his huge chilly- bin, flag and blow-up kangaroo. Christopher Brougham's Col seems equally stereotypical - the ultimate cricket nerd with packed lunch, tiny flag and those beige, one-day pyjamas. We soon modify these first impressions.

The two actors play all the other parts as well. So Brunton struts around as groin-stricken, blustering Greg and squeaky put-upon Trev. (Geary and Gregory show a keen relish for Aussie grotesquerie.) Brougham flicks through a scorecard of comic cameos including a haloed Bradman, a pouch-cheeked Muldoon, Rod ("Gissus a beer") Marsh, Richie Benaud with the "face like a blow-dried toad", and poor Martin Snedden, who caught Greg Chappell for 58 in one of the catches of the century - only for both Aussie umpires to claim not to have been looking. Perhaps best of all are Brougham's effortless transformations into 10-year-old Col, a funny and pathetic figure as he faces his brother's bullying and bouncers.

Geary and Gregory know their cricket. Not that you need to be a fan to enjoy The Underarm. But if you are, you'll appreciate to the full its heavily spun verbal leg-breaks with the odd emotional googly artfully slipped in.

Latest

101413 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Searching Great Barrier Island for the meaning of…

by Joanna Wane

Joanna Wane goes to Great Barrier Island in search of the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Read more
Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake
101340 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake

by James Robins

The biggest beak in Oz screen history returns in a remake of a 1970s favourite.

Read more
Go South: The NZ travel show with no narration or score
101364 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Television

Go South: The NZ travel show with no narration or…

by Russell Brown

New Zealand jumps on the captivating, if time-consuming, bandwagon of televising cross-country journeys.

Read more
The downsides of tiny houses
101357 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Property

The downsides of tiny houses

by Megan Carras

Tiny houses look marvellous but have a dark side. Here are three things they don’t tell you on marketing blurb.

Read more
Scientists reveal the secrets to a restorative sleep
100946 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Health

Scientists reveal the secrets to a restorative sle…

by Mark Broatch

A third of New Zealanders don’t get enough sleep and it’s killing us. Mark Broatch asks sleep scientists what we can do to get a good night’s slumber.

Read more
10 tips for getting a better night's sleep
100957 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Health

10 tips for getting a better night's sleep

by The Listener

Don’t use the snooze button on your alarm clock. Alarms spike blood pressure and heart rate, and snooze buttons just repeat the shock.

Read more
Gone in 60 seconds: The hard lessons from the Cryptopia heist
101395 2019-01-18 14:38:51Z Tech

Gone in 60 seconds: The hard lessons from the Cryp…

by Peter Griffin

Time is of the essence in a bank heist, and in the digital world, cryptocurrency tokens can be transferred in a flash and converted to US dollars.

Read more
Escape the hustle and bustle of Queen St at new Auckland central eatery NEO
101383 2019-01-18 09:28:19Z Auckland Eats

Escape the hustle and bustle of Queen St at new Au…

by Alex Blackwood

NEO is a new all-day eatery overlooking Queen St.

Read more