REVIEW: Keep out of my Box (and other useful advice) (Auckland Fringe)

Torum Heng

Here’s some free advice for you [by Matt Baker]

Torum Heng
Torum Heng

Spend enough time at The Basement and you’ll get to know the staff there. Spend even more time and you’ll find that some of them have talents beyond your expectations. Such is the case with box office manager and actress Torum Heng. I’ve seen Heng on stage before, but it wasn’t until she wrote and performed her own solo show that she had the opportunity shamelessly indulge in and truly beguile me with her talents, and I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t recognise them earlier.

Performed entirely in The Basement foyer box office, this site-specific piece is entirely accessible for all audiences; a five-character, one-woman show with all the right parts for a post-fringe production. Heng’s vocal work and physical particularisations are both subtle and strong enough to create clear, identifiable characters, and this expert balance is supported with an excellent script, brimming with hilarious metaphors and wordplay, and truly original musical compositions, which climax with a titillating final number. While a comedy through and through, Heng plants dramatic gems throughout her allegorical text, but does so without replacing the humour or attempting to force unwarranted pathos.

It takes a moment to adjust to the transition from Torum the box office manager, to Heng the performer; her first characterisation being her most extreme and contrasting, but once the format reveals itself and we are introduced to more characters, the necessity of the juxtaposition is clear and provides plenty of material in constructing the narrative flow. Asides from two points in which Heng can afford to be more confident in taking her time (her audience are more than willing to allow her this), the show is more or less flawless. While this site-specific theatre is currently performed at The Basement, a venue that has developed a strong sense of community, this is one New Zealand fringe show with international potential. Entry is free, but make sure you have some cash on you, as there’s no way you will not want to contribute to the post-show koha.

Keep Out of My Box (and other useful advice) is presented by Little t Productions and plays at The Basement on Feb 25 and 26. For details see The Basement.


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