This show breaks plates but heals my heart

I have never been so deeply moved by a piece of theatre. "Breaking Plates" deserves to be seen far and wide. It is a story for the ages – a perfect modern-day fairy tale!

A man stands on a barrel raising a bottle to the air, surrounded by other characters from the show.
Promotional photo of a scene from Breaking Plates: The Musical

Breaking Plates: The Musical at The Piano, 5 March 2023

Breaking Plates has just finished its debut run in Ōtautahi (3–11 March 2023). There were nine shows, many of which sold out. I went to the second showing – a matinee.

I have never been so deeply moved by a piece of theatre. Breaking Plates deserves to be seen far and wide. It is a story for the ages – a perfect modern-day fairy tale!

I'm glad that I went in without knowing much about the show. You should consider doing the same.

The show grows on me. At the beginning, it feels like community theatre, with a whimsical story and stilted character dynamics. But as the show progresses, I become fully vested in the characters and the sheer drama of the story. The whimsical start of the musical serves to balance its heavy, hard-hitting end.

This is a story of forbidden love. It is a story of brokenness but also a story of healing and hope. The show takes place at a collision point between cultures and ideologies. For me as a gay man, the heartache rings tragically true. The story is heartbreaking but cathartic.

Expert choreography, heartfelt songs, and the sheer charm of the lovers make for an incredibly moving tale. All this plays out against the backdrop of the 2010–2011 Canterbury earthquakes, heightening the drama and tugging even further on our heartstrings.

The musical is set in writer Costa Kerdemelidis's pre-quake restaurant Santorini. I naturally assume that the characters are real people. It is only after the show that I learn they were fictional.

The cast are incredible singers. The harmonies are satisfyingly tight. The songs propel the intense emotion of the story and speak truth from the heart.

There is a powerful synergy of emotion between the cast and the audience. By the climax of the play, I am crying, the cast is crying, the audience is crying, everyone is crying.

There is one letdown. This is a show about diversity – including ethnic, racial, and religious diversity – but the casting doesn't fully reflect this. The Christchurch theatre scene tends to be quite white. There is no quick fix for this, but it shows that we need to invest in a new generation of more diverse performers by ensuring that theatre is welcoming and attractive to all. All communities should feel safe to tell their stories. This isn't the responsibility of any one director or organisation; it is the responsibility of us all. Breaking Plates is a step in the right direction, but there is still further to go.

Breaking Plates is best enjoyed with a “Greek Kiss” cocktail. It is a delicious combination of raspberry with the liquorice tones of ouzo, a Greek spirit which features heavily in the show.

Breaking Plates: The Musical was written by Costa Kerdemelidis and directed by Ravil Atlas, with musical direction by Deen Coulson. It starred Michael Bayly as Yorgo, Alyssa Parkinson as Agapi, Daniel Brown as Ali, Matthew Hatten as Achilles, Donna Palmer as Yiayia, Angus Howat as Damien, Scott Christie as Stavros, Eli Davis as Jason, and Blair McHugh as Mohammed.