$34 - $68
After their father dies, the Lafayette siblings gather at their crumbling ancestral estate to clear out the family house for sale. There, they discover the most unexpected of secrets and are forced to confront realities they would prefer had never been revealed. At once familiar yet shocking, Appropriate’s audacious and unexpected humour will leave you as open-mouthed as its revelations.
“A bracingly clever play, as twisted and pointed as a corkscrew... viciously funny and profoundly unsettling... Jacobs-Jenkins springs many surprises as his drama runs its suspenseful and gripping course.”
- 6 May 2023: Opening night
- 8 May 2023: Forum - a special performance where audiences get to ask cast and crew questions after the show
- 9 May 2023: $20 Tuesday
- 1 June 2023: Communication Friendly performance
- 3 June 2023: Matinee at 2pm
- 3 June 2023: Closing night
Earlybird Standard Adult $62 $68 Senior (65+) $55 $62 Friends of The Court Theatre $52 $58 Group (6+) 10% Discount* Child (under 18) $34 Student ID cardholders $34 Community Services or Hāpai Access cardholders $34 *Applies to Standard Adult, Friends, Child and Senior price tickets
Antoinette "Toni" Lafayette
Beauregarde "Bo" Lafayette
Tony De Goldi
Sound Designer / Operator
Assistant Stage Manager
Rehearsal Assistant Stage Manager
Stuff advertorial on Appropriate
"I was drawn to direct Appropriate because the writing is simply extraordinary. The playwright, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, has managed to weld incredibly vicious dialogue with scorching humour, which means you find yourself laughing because you can't help yourself, then you question why you're laughing."
So says acclaimed theatre director Nathaniel Lees, speaking to Stuff from The Court Theatre's rehearsal room as he takes a break from putting the cast of Appropriate through their paces.
A confronting dark comedy set in Arkansas, in America's south, Appropriate opens on the Lafayette family as they gather for the first time in years, following the death of their seemingly decent father. Already on edge, the tensions escalate when the siblings start sorting through their father's estate, which leads them to uncover more than just the junk of a crumbling plantation mansion. The family is forced to confront and question their past.
As good intentions unravel, what should have been a sombre family reunion becomes a ferocious feud that is simultaneously hysterical and profoundly uncomfortable, and which forces the family to ask themselves: Did any of them truly know anything about their father or their heritage? The pressure-cooker atmosphere heats up further as the issues of the three adult children rise to the surface in the wake of their father's death.
In writing Appropriate, Pulitzer-nominated playwright Jacobs-Jenkins has created a work that is both comedic and audacious. Director Lees is also emphatic about the play's relevance to audiences in Aotearoa. "History is always written by the victors, just as the colonisation of Māori has been remembered here, with past conflicts often brushed away with comments like, 'well, that's just what people did in those days'. Or people might say that because it wasn't them who did the things, it's not their problem, which is another reason I took this play on, because I wanted to examine both the nature of atrocities perpetuated on people of other races, as well as the acceptance of those awful things."
By exploring revelations of historical racial violence through the lens of one very dysfunctional family, Appropriate examines the importance of reckoning with the past. "That's partly what Branden has written about," Lees explains, "how we mustn't push the past into a corner and forget about it. The awards this play has won provide proof that he was right to tell this story."
That slew of awards includes the 2014 Obie for Best New American Play, and Appropriate has since played to critical acclaim around the world with The Washington Post declaring it, "…biliously funny", noting, "what distinguishes Appropriate is the playwright's gift for drawing characters into an escalating conflict and sustaining, with humour and craft, our curiosity about how they digest the terrible information thrown at them."
It's no surprise, either, that a script of this quality has drawn a talented cast, featuring some of Aotearoa's finest actors. Among them are Eilish Moran who has appeared in 79 Court productions, Roy Snow (Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street) and Serena Cotton (The Gulf, Brokenwood Mysteries), with all the actors relishing the richness of their roles, where mystery, dark comedy and family drama collide.
Devotees of daring stage design will also be drawn to Appropriate. "The house is a character in its own right," Lees explains, "and its decrepitude is a strong visual image, as well as helping to provide a sense of memories and spirits moving through the house. And without wishing to spoil anything, the layers of mayhem, disorder and chaos that exist in the house make for a most extraordinary ending."
Clearly excited about the upcoming production, Lees hopes audiences might examine their own prejudices after seeing this powerhouse play. "I do hope important conversations can be initiated by this utterly brilliant script, and for people not just to think that because something happened in the past, it should be forgotten. I also hope that this play might instigate people to communicate about their own history, their own pasts and maybe even their own acceptance of certain racist attitudes."
So, whether you're partial to suspenseful dark comedy or you crave stirring issues-based theatre that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, The Court Theatre's production of award-winning Appropriate is just the ticket for you.
Appropriate is included in your Super Subscription, or you can bundle it with at least two other shows to Build Your Own subscription.
If you want more Drama in your life, you could create a Drama Lover’s Subscription with:
- Be Like Billy
- Next to Normal
- The Haka Party Incident
Add on - Sweet Science of Bruising (Performed by our Youth Company)
If you want more to see more New Zealand premieres, you could create a Premiere Subscription with:
- Sense and Sensibility
- Be Like Billy
- The Appleton Ladies Potato Race (NZ professional premiere)
- Something Rotten!
If you want more some more laughs in your life, you could create a Shades of Comedy Subscription with:
- Sense and Sensibility
- The Appleton Ladies Potato Race
- Dance Nation
- Something Rotten!
Add on – Scared Scriptless, Scriptless Attempts and The Jesters’ Holiday Show
Covid – Your Booking is Safe with Us
To minimise the impact of possible Covid-related closures we employ understudies and swings for our cast and have contingencies to cover essential crew absences.
However, if a performance is affected by Covid and cannot go on, you will not lose out. We will attempt to rebook you to another performance in the show’s season or, if that is not possible, we can explore other options with you such as Court account credits or transferring your tickets to another show.
There are currently no Covid-related restrictions on attending The Court Theatre. However, as always, we encourage you to be mindful of good hygiene, for the sake of your own health, and that of other members of the audience, our cast, crew and staff.
If a show is cancelled:
- Performances most immediately impacted will be texted – to ensure that your details are up-to-date for this purpose, please log into your account (top right on our web pages) and review them now.
- Emails will be sent to all patrons affected outlining the dates of affected performance and the process that will follow to rebook. Typically this will be:
- rebooking your seats for the same night of the week within the following two weeks,
- endeavouring to book you into a similar spot in the auditorium, if possible.
- We telephone anyone we cannot contact via email.
- Your new booking will be emailed to you. If you require further changes, please email us.
We ask people not to phone our Box Office but rather to email us with special requests – this is easier for the team to handle when dealing with significant rebookings.
"Appropriate is punctuated with humourous moments throughout the show, making good use of the absurdity of the characters’ heightened emotions...a harsh, cutting sort of humour that leaves us unsure at times whether we should be laughing or gasping (there was a lot of both)."
"Designers Mark McEntyre and Tony De Goldi have created a visual representation of the complex tapestry of attitudes, misconceptions, aspirations, relationships and, above all, secrets that feed the plot. The sprawling, extravagantly detailed and disorderly visual impact of the scene sets the action in motion before a single human character appears on stage."
"It’s honestly great: a razor-sharp play about race and responsibility played without an actor of colour on stage, in which we fill in those images for ourselves through their absence."
"There is talent and skill galore here. Highly recommended."