The title tells you all [by James Wenley]
The ‘awkward’ brand of humour is one well known to audiences. Popularised in modern times by the Ricky Gervais School of comedy, it employs cringe, painful pauses, and a whiff of nastiness to sell its humour. Thomas Sainsbury has long done his own successful spin on the genre, and is a great match working for the first time with the Outfit Theatre Company with Director Benjamin Henson for their annual Christmas show. The title is a very good clue as to whether you’ll enjoy this play. Believe me; this family Christmas is awkward indeed.
We open on a suspiciously happy couple Polly (Jacqui Nauman) and Percy (Andrew Ford): he’s reading the newspaper, she’s creaming a Pavlova, and both send adoring smiles across the John Parker designed room. It’s the one moment of relative calm the play affords us; then (this reviewer attempting to remain sensitive, which the play does not do), Polly awkwardly walks, feet inward, across the room and we realise she is a few kiwifruit short of a pav (Nauman making a late play for the ‘The GAIL COWAN MANAGEMENT Award for Best Actress/Actor Playing a Character with a Disability/Medical Condition of the Year’ Hackman Theatre Award). Percy launches into a foul rant. Whenever anyone else is around, Percy pretends to be mentally impaired for his own perverse reasons, Ford channeling his Tweedle Dum character from Alice earlier this year. Those are only the first two characters we meet.
If this is a kid’s show, consider me a big one! [by James Wenley]
Outfit Theatre Company have turned their devising smarts on Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland story. I’ve never been to one of Outfit’s School Holiday shows, so was very curious to see how their upstart (and often dark) style would translate for children.
As we enter TAPAC it sounds like some unruly kids haven’t yet learnt their audience etiquette. But wait, no, that’s the Outfit ensemble, decked in school uniforms, and acting anarchic on the thrust stage. With all the busy-ness in this preshow I don’t know what the kids watching made of it, but I enjoyed the bits I could make out. The show begins with a school class prologue (each kid corresponding to a different Wonderland character, ala Wizard of Oz) where poor Alice gets bullied (“Dreamer, dreamer, you like Justin Bieber!”). The meanest bully (Ema Barton) gets her gang to steal Alice’s cat Dinah, and says she is going to eat her for dinner. She meets a talking white rabbit, who leads her down a rabbit role, and Alice finds herself in a strange Wonderland….
Encountering Explicit Emotions [by Sharu Delilkan]
Having seen Andrew Ford in action on stage for the past three or four years, producer Roberto Nascimento knew that he would be ideal to play Tim as soon as he read the script for Some Explicit Polaroids.
“Andrew is a very talented guy and I admire what he does. So when the opportunity to cast his role came up, Andrew came to mind,” says Nascimento, who is also acting alongside Ford as a Russian go-go dancer.
Some Explicit Polaroids is Mark Ravenhill’s most accomplished play, populated with the familiar gallery of criminals, junkies, sex-workers and psychotics who are Ravenhill's heroes. It delves into the zeitgeist and finds an era where political and personal clash in a slow motion car crash involving AIDS, lap dancing and high ambition.
With a stellar mix of accomplished and emerging actors, Andrew Ford, Roberto Nascimento, Edward Newborn, Lucy McCammon, Rashmi Pilapitiya and Robert Tripe, Some Explicit Polaroids is directed by New Zealander Phillip C. Gordon.
Ford’s character Tim is a twenty-something year-old spoilt rich kid who is dying of AIDS in 1999. To distract himself from his inevitable plight, Tim decides to lead a carefree hedonistic lifestyle, which includes buying a sex slave from Russia, played by Nascimento.
These shows won't last, buy your ticket today! [by James Wenley]
Turns out Xmas is a lot like the Rugby World Cup, whether you’re into it or not, you simply can’t avoid it – its everywhere. Xmas trees and tinsels have sprouted up everywhere. All I want for Christmas is you is on repeat. A GIANT Xmas Tree bauble has landed in Aotea Square, narrowly missing the Occupy Auckland protestors.
And now even our theatres aren’t safe. A recent tradition in Auckland has been the annual Xmas show at The Basement (The Reindeer Monologues, Christ Almighty!, Toys), where a conveyer belt of different ‘weren’t-you-on-the-tele-once’ actors perform each night.
While there’s no end-of-year Basement show this time round, others have arrived with sleigh bells on to take its place.
This week, two alliterated xmas shows have been going antler to antler. At the Herald Theatre is Outfit Theatre Company’s wicked farce A Criminal Christmas, and Upstairs at the Basement is Thomas Sainsbury’s series of Xmas shorts, A Krazy Kristmas.
A CRIMINAL CHRISTMAS
Outfit Theatre Company have topped off a cracker of a year (which included The Sex Show, Boys' Life and Love After Dark) with A Criminal Christmas, in partnership with STAMP at The EDGE. While The EDGE affords the company with the Herald Theatre and their best production values so far, what wins the season is the edgy and reckless ensemble feel that makes their work unique.
Labyrinth and 500 Days of Summer? Skip the films, see the plays… [by James Wenley]
When I interviewed Chris Neels on Theatre Scenes for Skin Tight in June he mentioned that he was working on two shows for a double bill at the Basement theatre in August. “Last year the Basement put out a call for proposals and I thought… oh shit, next year I’m going to be an actor and if I’m not performing at the Basement I’m not an actor. That’s what real actors do, they go to the Basement!”
And to the Basement he went, but, as it turned out, not as an actor. According to Chris’ logic, he might not be a ‘real’ actor yet, but he deservedly should call himself a ‘real’ director and playwright.
Elephant Nation’s two plays are a tantalising prospect. First is the Terrific Tale of Tabatha Talmus, billed as a fantasy for fans of ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘The Never Ending story’, its devised by the cast and directed by Neels with collaboration from dance collective Sweaty Heart Productions. Then Chris writes and directs These are the Skeletons of Us, which stars (if I may be so bold) some of the best young actors working in Auckland – Andrew Ford, Colin Garlick, Chelsea McEwan Miller and especially Nic Sampson.
Blokes behaving badly [by Sharu Delilkan]
If you’re looking to see a show with balls Boys’ Life is definitely it.
The play follows the drunken, nihilistic excesses of three American youths through their quest to embrace responsibility, seek partnership and come to a realisation of their place in the world.
Boys’ Life reminds the audience of their journey from adolescent confused flirtation to ultimate attempts to dignify a life.
It’s about the relationship of three urban guys who essentially refuse to grow up.
The Outfit Theatre Company production, based on Howard Korder’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, portrays the sexual politics and attitudes of 1980s America.