CLEVERLY CONSTRUCTED AND EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED
RICHARD MEROS SALUTES THE SOUTHERN MAN
Adapted from the book by Richard Meros, by Geoff Pinfield and Arthur Meek
Performed by Arthur Meek
Directed by Geoff Pinfield
at Downstage Theatre, Wellington
From 23 Nov 2012 to 1 Dec 2012
Reviewed by Helen Sims, 26 Nov 2012
In Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man Arthur Meek reprises his role as Richard Meros, the fictional writer-satirist-philosopher he brought to life so memorably in On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover.
Meros' stock and trade is devising outlandish solutions to national woes – last time it was to revive the mojo of a Prime Minister with flagging popularity, this time he's found the cure to the stagnant economy. Meek and co-writer Geoff Pinfield have once again cleverly adapted Meros' book into a PowerPoint presentation for the stage.
Meek as Meros ushers us into the theatre, where a large screen is set up flanked by tussock floral arrangements. The format is similar to OTCAPOHCTMAHYL. Meros presents a PowerPoint lecture setting out his thesis: the only hope of preventing sovereign default is the stoic Southern Man, a hero in the mould of Hercules and Maui.
As ‘Meros' says in his programme note, there is “cause for contemplation”; a compelling case is made that the underpinnings of our economy are unsustainable. Through a disastrous Work and Income-induced fruit picking experience, Meros has become convinced that the solution lies in cessation of whinging and the adoption of the values of the elusive Southern Man.
The show lacks some of the manic humour and sheer outrageousness of OTCAPOHCTMAHYL. However, Meek's energy and enthusiasm is once again unflagging. He delivers the presentation at pace, sometimes leaving the audience to do their best to keep up. He is skilled at engaging the audience. The PowerPoint design by Pinfield, Meek and National Park Animation and Illustration is more sophisticated than OTCAPOHCTMAHYL, allowing Meek to interact with the images.
No one and nothing is immune from Meros' critical eye. There are both gains and losses from the wider premise in Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man. Whilst not as enjoyable as its predecessor, it's another cleverly constructed and excellently performed solo show.
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Ryan Brown-Haysom (Salient);
Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] (The Dominion Post);
Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
Sarah Dunn (Nelson Mail);