Wellington Scoop

Rita and Douglas: Dave Armstrong’s play opens at Circa


Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays painter Rita Angus in Dave Armstrong’s Rita and Douglas which has its Wellington premiere season starting on Wednesday at Circa.

The second person in the cast is pianist Michael Houstoun, who plays her friend the composer Douglas Lilburn.

The play, based on the painter’s letters, opens in Wellington after sell-out seasons around the country.

The couple met in Wellington in the early 1940s and had a brief but passionate affair. Living in virtual poverty and struggling with health issues, Angus went on to produce, with Lilburn’s support, an outstanding body of work.

“It is difficult to imagine a better way to appreciate the art of Rita Angus and Douglas Lilburn than this celebratory tribute in which a sharp dramatisation of their quarrelsome relationship is counter-poised with Michael Houstoun’s exquisite renditions of Lilburn’s piano works while a luminous display of Angus’ paintings appears as an enormous projection” – NZ Herald