Stuck on you [by James Wenley]
Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson are endearing performers, and also rather talented doodlers.
In two hander shows where actors play multiple characters, some shows will trust the actors to indicate character changes through physicality and voice, others might make a comic virtue out of rapid costume changes. These guys go one step better. The main charm of Velcro City is the assortment of low budget costumes and accessories they have created out of paper, felts, and of course velcro. As we enter The Basement they stand drinking Pepsi and smile warmly at us, and I smile warmly back on account of the ridiculous black sacks they are wearing. During the course of the show they velcro on delightfully drawn ponytails, school uniforms, bald heads, old-person’s glasses to bring to life the citizens of Velcro City.
Velcro City itself is a fantasy microcosm of parochial New Zealand: the mayor wants to encourage community spirit, early 2000s band Rubicon is headlining the music festival, there’s an organic coffee shop run by lesbians, and the pride of the city is their lavender field.
Very much a character comedy, most characters are pushed to their extreme – like the old man who takes matters into his own hands when a letter to the editor doesn’t solve all his problems. In style it’s a bit like the oddities of Little Britain (without that program’s puerility), right down to a voice over narration giving dark facts about Velcro City, via the inspired vocal casting of Jacqui Brown. There are a series of sketches that introduce the characters before a ‘city under threat’ storyline comes together to cleverly tie/velcro all the characters together. Who will stand up and save the city?
I’m not fully captured by the show – the humour is more parts silly than clever, and Parkinson’s drop off delivery means I miss a few one liners. Clearly updated since their first season at the Auckland Fringe last year, they’ve added a running gag surrounding The Luminaries and the fact nobody is willing to admit that they never finished it. Only a hundred pages to go…
What finally sticks is the exuberance of the performers, and the crafty surprises: like a cute runaway toddler, and a visit from a NZ Grammy award winner. It’s all a bit of charming nonsense.
Don’t miss your chance to join in the fun. In the foyer you get to design your own costumes for Hamish and Eli to wear on their wonderful handmade poster.
Velcro City plays at The Basement until Sat 22 Feb. More details see The Basement.