REVIEW: Constantinople (Basement Return Season)


Grape fun [by Matt Baker]


Constantinople has a rich and impressive history, a history that is manhandled to fit the mold for Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie Duncan’s show of the same name. Though some of the facts are true, the majority of the storyline is warped to accommodate a series of bizarre scenes including a horse and his physiotherapist, Rod Stewart, and a DJ and the eponymous Constantine himself.

Wakenshaw is a superb comedic performer, with great physical articulation. His playfulness on stage is constantly endearing, allowing the audience to easily accept the absurdity of his performance. Duncan starts off with a slightly more measured approach, and ingratiates himself as the show progresses, especially with the role of the irreverently flambouyant Constantine. The two work cohesively together, though neither could be considered the straight man in this comedic duo.

Set, props, lighting, and especially sound are all presented in a particular style which highlights the absurdist nature of the show. Operator Peter Davison is spot on, and the trio work flawlessly in the discotheque scene.

While the scenes are presented clearly through the narration, they don’t necessarily create an arc throughout the show, and I would have appreciated some more coherence in the story. Wordplay, comic shelving, and the tie gag, are all perfect examples of both Wakenshaw and Duncan’s knowledge of and ability to produce comedy.

The difficulty with reviewing a show such as this is that articulating absurdist comedy becomes somewhat null and void. It has to be seen to be understood – for lack of a better word. Constantinople does not profess to be anything more than it is, and it is a very specific type of comedy. If you have a fondness for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Constantinople is presented by Theatre Beating and plays at The Basement Studio until 6 April. Details see The Basement

SEE ALSO: Reviews of previous seasons from James Wenley (Auckland Fringe 2011 debut) and Rosabel Tan (Comedy Festival 2012) review of current season by Nik Smythe

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