Lacks Bite [by James Wenley]
Mancub tells the familiar story of teenager’s rite of passage from adolescence to manhood. Paul (Ryan Dulieu) traverses the terrain of teachers, parents, his first girlfriend, and school sport. There is one major complication: Paul begins to take on the characteristics of different animals, and eventually believes he can turn into animals at will.
Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell’s script debuted at the Soho Theatre in London in 2005, adapted from the book Flight of the Cassowary by John LeVert. It has been tooled towards an Auckland setting for its Basement production.*
Dulieu is onstage for the play’s entirety; for this teenager, the play’s universe certainly revolves around him. He’s a charismatic guide to the inside of his troubled head, revealing a mix of neurosis, hormonal confusion, and a philosopher’s mind, credibly delivered by Dulieu. Perhaps betraying the play’s book origins, the script is heavily told through Paul’s first person narrative of the events, people and feelings in his life. When sensorially connected, he is a formidable force that we pay attention to, especially when his character is allowed the rare opportunity to stop speaking and communicate physically.
Paul is called a sloth, a pig and a parasite by his parents within the first minute. After reading a (children’s) book on animals, he begins to notice animal traits in himself and others. The trend continues at school, learning we have more in common with animals than we do opposite. “What animal am I?” he ponders.
Sweet As! [by Sharu Delilkan]
I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s performances of Short + Sweet which is in stark contrast to my review of Week 1.
Varied, funny, clever, poignant and sweet in equal proportions the performers complemented each other creating a great mix of thought provoking dialogue.
In case you haven’t seen Short + Sweet before, it is the biggest little play festival in the world - produces hundreds of the best 10-minute plays from across the globe each year and 2012 marks the third year in a row that the festival has taken place in Auckland.
Week 2 of the three-week festival staged 9 new productions, over two and a bit hours including a short interval.
With so much talent on display it’s difficult to pick a winner (even though that was our task at the end), but A Different Client has to be given its due as the script of the night. What looked like it was gonna be a standard examination of bigotry, class, homophobia and the generation gap, turned into an incredibly kindly and humane twist that was both unexpected and refreshing. Its message is still haunting me – the hallmark of a good script. In a similar vein, Boys’ Outing also turns the tables somewhat, with great performances from Graham Candy and Ryan Dulieu.
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….
Teen angst on overdrive [by James Wenley]
Pity the British teenager. There’s something about the British school system that has seen it spawn more than its fair share of films, television and plays eviscerating the subject. Alan Bennett’s thoughtful The History Boys, which Punk Rock has been compared to, took a fairly noble approach to student’s studying their final exam. Punk Rock by Simon Stephens is something else entirely. While presenting as a familiar story of a group of grammar school sixth formers studying for their A levels, it explodes into a punishing indictment on the horrors of high school and the teenage wasteland.
School uniforms don’t stop Punk Rock’s characters from expressing their identities – it’s all how you wear your blazer. Opening loud to a suitably raucous punk song, a recognisable assortment of archetypes parade around the stage. There’s the tightly buttoned nerd, the suggestive hottie, the sloppily dressed bully, and the guy so cool he gets away with wearing a non-regulation jacket. Within seconds, the nerd’s pants have been pulled down and carted offstage. Ah, so that’s how it’s going to be.