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SLICK, WICKED POKE AT POLITICS

Print Version

On The Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover
adapted from the scurrilous booklet by Richard Meros, by director Geoff Pinfield and performer Arthur Meek

at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
From 15 Jan 2008 to 19 Jan 2008

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 17 Jan 2008
originally published in The Dominion Post

Get down to Bats straight away and book a seat for this 'anarchic and incisive' (I quote from the blurb and it's all true) theatrical lecture with a slick and wickedly clever PowerPoint presentation that alone is worth the price of a ticket. This hilarious show finishes on Saturday, which is a very short run for a comedy as consistently funny as this one in a city as politically-minded as Wellington.

It is based on Richard Meros's book which has sold, we are led to believe, only 16 copies though it has been reviewed in The Guardian Weekly! On Richard Meros's pledge card to Helen Clark he promises to bend to her every whim, snuggle, reinvigorate her and the nation, and win the 2008 election for her and rescue us all from a National Party government.

The PowerPoint presentation to prove all this, which by the way is followed by tea and scones in the foyer, is genuinely witty and, though it occasionally leads us into areas of purity with Haley Westenra in extreme close-up, it is also allows Richard Meros's alter ego, Arthur Meek, to rattle off the names of all 36 prime ministers of New Zealand in reverse historical order as their portraits appear simultaneously on the screen. He earned a deserved round of applause from the audience for this feat of memory and technical know-how.
Arthur Meek's Richard Meros is a nice young man, rather geekish in his dress (beige and brown with an ill-fitting pullover) but with a passion for his subject that any self-help or get-rich-now guru with a PowerPoint would envy, as he itemizes on the screen the bleeding obvious and illustrating everything with metaphors such as being Helen's cell-phone battery recharger in the night and then bursting into outrageous purple passages that are sheer delight and are performed with comic aplomb and spot-on timing.

Every now and then his passion gets the better of him and he has to pause to drink some water or use his inhaler but there is no denying his devotion to "Our philosopher Queen,"  "our Uber Frau" with "the voice of a crystal cello" and his determination to prove that he is the Adonis to do the job. However, underneath all the jokes (lots of digs at liberal attitudes) the malaise that bedevils the current political scene ("our dream of getting a dream") is the real target of this brilliant show.
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe
 Helen Sims (The Lumiere Reader);
 Lynn Freeman (Captial Times);
 Anna Chinn (New Zealand Listener);
 Kate Ward-Smythe
 John Smythe (2)
 Vanessa Byrnes