Geeks' Eye for the Straight Guy [by Sharu Delilkan]
If you’re not fans of The Big Bang Theory or Paul, the sci-fi geek film from Simon Pegg then you are bound to love Square Eye Pair precisely because it is the same.
Let me explain. It’s not the same. It’s use of geekiness cleverly allows us access to three characters that light-sabre through the awkwardness and pain of growing up and learning love, as well as loss and friendship.
Eli Mathewson (Max) and Hamish Parkinson (Richard) have written a fabulous show that engages the audience from the outset, with comfortingly familiar scenes of student/loser flat debris and an addiction to television and video games.
Screen-based stimulation seems to replace real life as accomplished actor Elise Whitson impinges on the best mates lives in the guise of multiple characters – various girlfriends Dorothy and Grace as well as oh-so-tacky daytime talk show host Tracy Tryst. Turning their world upside down the Princess Leia-like female figure in their otherwise protected but cryogenically frozen existence threatens the two nerds’ friendship with almost perceptible results.
The alienation of the nerds is subtly and skilfully done and would no doubt have many squirming in their seats as they reminisce about their insecurities, awkwardness and divided loyalties of yesteryear.
There are numerous pop culture references from Jessica Rabbit, Betty Rubble, Bart Simpson, Star Wars, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Zumba and even to the 30 Second ‘Splay and Walk’ Away commercial. Other TV infomercials that were included were the ‘tiny’ blender, steam mop and the EZ Krunch ab contraption.
The questions asked in the play are important:
• Who would you shag in popular culture?
• If you’re good friends with a guy are you homosexual?
• Is Bart Simpson really so much better than Jar Jar Binks? and
• Do women (or unobtainiums) really spoil men’s adolescence?
A couple of dramatic devices include using the sofa as the backstage, which was absolutely genius and highly effective. I could only wonder how Whitson managed to wiggle in and out of her costumes, horizontally, so skilfully and smoothly.
I must admit that I have racked my brains to come up with an adjective to describe the play but the team's description of the show as a ‘bromance’ comedy is still the most apt. The show is about two people meeting at a young age, ‘falling in love’, breaking up and finally realising the error of their ways. All done with them being heterosexual males – which is definitely a refreshing take – even though this includes dialogue like “If I were gay I would totally bone you”.
My personal sadness was that there weren’t more people to witness this hilarity – maybe they were at home playing Diablo III. But if this is the turnout Auckland can give to such wonderful writing and acting then all I can think to say is “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi”.
Square Eye Pair plays at The Basement until 30th June. More details see The Basement.
See also James Wenley’s interview with Hamish Parkinson.