REVIEW: Prehistoria (Auckland Fringe)

Evolutionary [by Matt Baker]

Prehistoria
Prehistoria

From its opening narration by ever-funny anti-wordsmith Nic Sampson, to its audience-participatory ending, Prehistoria engages a variety of theatrical conventions and a hilarious narrative, offering its patrons a gorgeous comedic gem for the 2015 Fringe Festival. It’s a story we all know. Girl meets dinosaur, girl meets boy, dinosaur loses girl, girl loses boy, dinosaur gets girl, boy gets comeuppance. Luckily, what makes this show its own is how these things occur, so even a one-line synopsis doesn’t actually ruin the fun.

Laura Daniel proves her worth as an actress, holding the audience in the palm of her hand as she sashays around the stage, while Eli Matthewson is incredibly endearing as a non-descript and playful, if not neurotic, dinosaur. Their vocabulary as performers is vast and when they do actually speak, it’s always worth it. Oscar Wilson’s impressive dance moves in contrast to the world that has been created is a brilliant dynamic. Wilson exudes showmanship, epitomising the macho swagger, but can afford to follow this quality through more strongly in his non-dance performance.

Directed by clowning genius Hamish Parkinson, the cast have clearly been instilled with a justified confidence in their ability to play through the gags, and the meta-theatrical awareness provides excellent Brechtian comedy fodder. Costumes by Charlie Baptist are a perfect balance of tacky and authentic, while Rachel Marlow’s lighting design does well to find specificity within the Fringe limitations of the shared Basement stage.

While the sequence for each game is clear, there is a slight lack of clarity between them. This isn’t to say that the show drags in any way, merely that a greater distinction between the beats would help signal the narrative flow. More use of the narration, which reflects the latters overuse in television during the transition from radio serials, could provide the answer, as could more of the musical component, especially the pieces created by Joseph Moore.

Much the same as Up On Lowman, although the show is very much designed as a theatrical experience, I can’t help but see its potential as an animated children’s show. Whether such an eventuation occurs or not, there’s no reason not to see what is no doubt the first step in this theatrical evolution.

Prehistoria plays at The Basement until February 25. For details see The Basement.

SEE ALSO: Theatreview review by Nik Smythe

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