[Running in Place]
From the mid-wedding hallucination of Amanda Billing, that triggers her escape to the outside world, to her bacchanalian adventures in Auckland, Escape From Gloriavale comes on like a low-stakes version of The Odyssey with more bodily fluids, orgies and a soul-crushing trip to Kelly Tarltons.
Stent is a talented comic, and embodies the reckless optimism of her role well. Some of the best laughs come from Providence’s tone deaf interactions with other people, and Stent carries that awkwardness across with an economy of expression and body movement that hits the funny bone with razor-sharp precision.
However, early on I was gripped by a sense of deja vu. From the nasal voice to the lazy half-smile and shuffling footwork, it felt like I was watching a sequel to her roles in Camping and Opening Night; the same performance, only with minor changes.
Is this a problem? If you are not that familiar with Stent’s recent work, it shouldn’t be, Escape From Gloriavale is a very funny show, and those who have enjoyed Stent’s shtick before may do so again too. But I’d like to see Stent use future roles to show off more of her comic palette.
Brynley Stent performs until 6 May at the Q Theatre Cellar. Details see Comedy Festival.