Christ knows he should be charging a lot more [by Matt Baker]
After three years of gradually and increasingly leaking the persona of Tim Dibley into the acting community’s collective consciousness, actor and casting director Eryn Wilson has finally taken the step from Facebook and Youtube to the stage in the premiere live performance of his ridiculous yet somewhat veracious alter-ego. Billed as a masterclass for actors, Dibley takes the audience through a sequence of acting exercises and audition techniques, taking a series of comedic no holds barred swipes at both general concepts and individuals within the industry. While some of the person-specific jabs will undoubtedly be lost on those outside the business, they can rest assured that Wilson successfully avoids any hint of maliciousness, laughing at himself as much as (if not, more so than) others.
Audience participation is an integral part of the show (be sure to get your photo taken as you enter the theatre space), and I would encourage those who initially find that idea aversive to be open to the safety of both Wilson’s and Dibley’s professionalism. It truly makes the show unique, and is a testament to Wilson’s acerbic wit and improvisational skills.
Actor Jonny Moffatt – playing a parody of himself and reduced to the label ‘Lucky’ – gives a nice contrast to Wilson/Dibley. Thanks to the dynamic between these two personalities Moffatt successfully avoids playing poor me, allowing the audience to work in his favour. Added to this is a superb cameo from one of New Zealand’s most recognisable faces, upping the ante and driving the play through to the end. Guitarist Danik Sygrove is used sparingly, but accurately.
At 50 minutes running time, the show’s progression is nicely paced. The first three quarters are heavily dictated by the audience, and just when they become comfortable with the structure Wilson has set, things change – dramatically. It results in a nicely pitched pathos for both Moffatt/Lucky and Wilson/Dibley, however, I would have liked more hints towards the content of Moffat’s speech and the act of Dibley’s carnal eruption peppered earlier in the script for a more fully packed-punch.
With no programme, no credited director*, and advertised in the vein of a masterclass as opposed to a fringe theatre production, the danger for Tim Dibley’s career is that those outside the acting community will simply pass on the show. However, this bold blurring of reality truly works for both the audiences’ role in show and the overall production. The show’s success will ultimately rely on word-of-mouth advertising, and, if opening night’s audience are as vocal about it as much as they were during it, Tim Dibley. Masterclass is an experience you’ll need to get in quick to avoid missing.
* Sources within the production inform me that the show was directed by Ben Crowder.
Tim Dibley. Masterclass plays at The Basement Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe until Sat 23rd Feb. Details see Auckland Fringe.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe