REVIEW: Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man (Comedy Festival)

Richard Meros
Richard Meros and Friends!

Politically Aware and Intelligent Humour, now with Bonus FlyBuy Points! [by Rosabel Tan]

Richard Meros
Richard Meros and Friends!

These are tough times. There’s the global financial crisis. Climate change.  John Key. And Richard Meros, once a leading academic specialising in Helen Clark’s specific niche – can no longer earn a living. And so he turns to the world for a solution, and finds it in that lone figure staring across the plains: the Southern Man.

As with On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover, Meros, played by Arthur Meek, uses a gorgeously rendered PowerPoint presentation to convince us of his thesis in inspired and imaginative ways. Drawing on visual jokes, live-action shadow puppetry and a short-lived bout of pyrotechnics, Meros explains in bullet-point form his search for the Southern Man, the figure he believes will be our modern-day hero.

Meek carries the show well, channelling the frazzled passion of a man consumed by his work, and the work itself is good. It’s exciting to see a show that’s politically aware, and one that’s intelligent and amusing in equal measure. It’s also a testament to the writing that I’m instinctively compelled to evaluate it as an artefact of academia (my new hobby: peer-reviewing shows at the comedy festival). As lectures go, what it lacks is the drive and urgency that On The Conditions had: rather than convincing the audience of a point, we’re presented with an exploration of a potential point, the logic of which feels occasionally convoluted and confused, and the resulting conclusion – while a nice gesture, and one that rounds the search nicely – feels ham-fisted as a result.

Ultimately, though, this doesn’t detract from the show’s charm, and as a presentation in search of the Southern man, Richard Meros is relevant and irreverent and cheeky and fun.

Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man plays at the Herald Theatre as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival until 19 May. More details see Comedy Festival.

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Reynald Castaneda

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