Gross-out Dolly Horror [by James Wenley]
Thomas Sainsbury and Yvette Parsons’s previous work together typically tend to features unsavory oddballs, extracting comedy from social awkwardness and character eccentricities. This style is once again at play in Dolly Mixture in which the premise sees Crispin Merriweather (Sainsbury) boarding at the residence of Beverly Beavington (Parsons) who restores dolls as her hobby. But Beavington has a larger restoration project in mind. While Mixture is billed as a ‘horror comedy’, here the comedy is only a brief respite to the tension, horror and truly gross-out moments. Dolly Mixture is arguably Sainsbury’s and Parson’s sickness work yet, experimenting with how much they can get away with.
Beverly Beavington’s world is a mix of olive floral patterns, kitsch, the gothic, and faded glory: her living room’s centerpiece is a shelf filled with curious looking dolls in various states of disrepair which stare out directly to the audience and manage to look genuinely creepy. The dolls aside, the play’s aesthetic creates a palpable feeling of unease. Little things just aren’t right: Sainsbury’s bold purple suit is ill-fitting, and he keeps his backpack on the entire time, never comfortable. Parsons’s Beavington is unnerving: smudged lipstick, rotting teeth and black eye contacts which make her look uncannily like one of her own Dolls.
This Week’s Picks: Black Faggot, Elevator, A Night to Dismember and Dolly Mixture [by James Wenley]
Auckland Fringe is out in full force from this week, and audiences are spoilt for choice, you lucky things you. All of our picks are at The Basement this week, giving you the perfect opportunity to check out their classy new bar area.
The Show? Black Faggot
Who Wrote it? One our best: Victor Rodger.
Who’s putting it on? Multinesia, Roy Ward directs. The show is doing both Auckland Fringe and Auckland Pride Festival, the dirty two-timer!
What’s it about? “A series of (mostly) humorous monologues from a vast array of (mostly) gay Samoan characters”
Who’s in it? Sione Wedding’s Iaheto Ah Hi and Shortland Street’s Beulah Koale who play many different characters.
Pithy Theatre Scenes review Quote: "It’s a sad fact that the people who should see this show the most, are the ones who probably won’t." (It's all in the title)
Where? The Basement. 8:30pm tonight till Wednesday 20th, 8:30pm.
Tickets? $15-$20 at iTICKET
Spend the Night with Irene [by James Wenley]
Irene McMunn’s Christmas cheer has been charming audiences in small venues across the country.
So much so, that director Stephen Papps has lost track of how many seasons the one woman show has had. This return season at TAPAC is the first time he’s seen the show since March. Impressively, it’s the third Auckland season after its debut at the Musgrove Theatre this time last year, a testament to its audience appeal, and the performance of actor/playwright Yvette Parsons.
The Christmas themed Silent Night has played both during ‘on’ and ‘off’ seasons, and while its strength of character and message is relevant at all times, I suspect at this time of the year it gains its extra poignancy.
TAPAC has been decked out with cabaret style tables and seating. The touring set, a homely interior, is raised high on rostra for audience visibility. Pink, in all its shades, is the overwhelming colour in this unit; the couch, floral wall paper and Irene’s dress are awash in it. As a space it tells much that we’ll need to know about the character, full of individual touches and flourishes, from the displays of Prince Charles and Diana wedding memorabilia, to the beautiful doll sitting on the couch.
The first we hear of Irene is her booming voice as she belts out her own unique version of the perennial Silent Night. It’s an instant charmer, her trait of bursting into carols welcome interludes throughout the show, and later touching expression of emotion. She appears onstage, and begins to chat away at us. We are warmly eased into her world as she freely espouses on different topics as they occur to her, flitting from one train of thought to another. The Chrisco’s hamper has newly arrived, and she takes us through an inventory (“That’s a good brand”). It’s Christmas day, and she’s waiting for her guests to arrive for a tea party.
A chat with Yvette Parsons aka Irene McMunn[by Sharu Delilkan]
I have known Yvette Parsons for a number of years now.
And I’ve been a big fan. In fact I would go so far as to say I consider her one of Auckland’s greatest actors.
Naturally I’ve seen Silent Night during both the Auckland seasons and am hoping to go along to the show again this month at TAPAC (The Auckland Performing Arts Centre).
And when I heard the show was back in Auckland, by popular demand, I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with the talented Yvette at her fabulous character-home in Westmere.
I was greeted by her lovely partner Jason when I arrived who said, “Yvette is running late. That’s so uncharacteristic of her.” To which I replied “Do I detect an air of sarcasm?” I believe we hit it off thereafter.
While Jason made me a cuppa, I couldn’t help observing all the wonderful memorabilia in their home reminiscent of the set of Silent Night. I soon realised that quite a few of Yvette’s personal treasures, collected over the years, are part of the living room where Silent Night takes place.
Dark and Twisted [by James Wenley]
After a string of collaborations and monologue directing, Thomas Sainsbury returns to The Basement with The Family Wilder, setting his style to the dark camp of the thriller genre’s twist and turns.
Harry McNaughton plays the softly-spoken writer Clive, who is tasked with writing the biography of Wilder Family patriarch and ruthless businessman Bill. Bill, played by Bruce Phillips, is Alasdair Thompson’s kind of bloke. Generally denigrating to anyone but himself and full of pithy put downs, especially towards his no-hoper children Art (Todd Emerson) and Elizabeth (Fern Sutherland). His son may be useless, but he would never stand for his daughter to take over the business. The loathsome Art and Elizabeth, despite being siblings, have something of a Macbeth/Lady Macbeth relationship, and are plotting to kill their father. Hapless Clive might just be the person they need to help them get away with it…
Yvette Parsons, always a treat onstage, rounds out the cast as the staunchly Christian housekeeper/personal assistant Hodge, fiercely loyal to her employer, and can carry a good song.
There’s something happening in Auckland right now, and it’s hilarious. [by James Wenley]
And I’m not talking about the Comedy Festival proper. We Aucklanders have known this is hilarious for a number of years now. Auckland’s stand-up comic fraternity (anyone who has ever appeared on 7 Days, ever) have been on a renaissance roll for a while.
No, I’m talking about comedy in the theatre. Something very hilarious, and very exciting, is happening on our stages.
Over the last few years, the creation of the funny play has been taken up by three main creative groupings in Auckland.
The Thomas Sainsbury juggernaut has been impossible to miss, the playwright churning out play after play (Talk, Dance Troupe Supreme, The Mall, Loser etc etc etc) and often directing his own work in small venues around town.
Nic Sampson and his cohorts have newly emerged with a series of broad blokey comedies (Tim and Andy, The Burn, Idiots I & II, Feel Felt Found, No Tree Hill)
And after graduating from Toi Whakaari, writer-performer pair Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock lit up the Auckland scene with A song for the Ugly Kids, The Giant Face, and Basement revolving cast Xmas shows Christ Almighty! and Toys.
All share similarities, so much so that a distinctive ‘comedy’ theatre style is happening right now in Auckland. It is silly, outrageous, naughty, absurd, and anything but PC. The storylines are often ridiculous. Although sometimes gagging on popular culture, the heart of the comedy is squarely in the characters and their relationships. The plays are populated by larger-than-life characters (with actors as a rule playing multiple characters within a night) who underneath are deeply flawed and have a ‘truth’ that exposes our own human foibles. This, is what makes them work, and is something I have long admired in Sainsbury’s work especially.
This week at the Basement, all three comedy-making groups converge.