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Print Version

Auckland Fringe 2013
Written and directed by Lucy Bennett
A Kitsch Bitches’ production presented by Lucy + Luke Create

at The Basement Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 25 Feb 2013 to 1 Mar 2013
[55 mins]

Reviewed by Stephen Lunt, 26 Feb 2013

Reading the title and the premise of Wild Beasts reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are and this dark fairy-tale leads you along a very similar path.  In The Basement Studio we enter a tent, meticulously sewn together from every patterned sheet you can imagine.  Fairy-lights surround the seating and sitting down on cushions and cross legged on the floor, we are ready to be told a story.

This story surrounds two little girls, expertly acted by Katrina Wesseling and Sez Niederer, who have run away from home.  The fact that these little girls are played by fully grown adults never seems to be an issue, as feeling like children ourselves, they are just one of us.  We are visited by several 'Beasts' taking many forms, some closer to human, some animal and some, well, we aren't quite sure even they know what they are; they are just 'me'. 

The tent within a tent is an inspired idea. The Boy within teases us by only revealing the shadow of his face.  It also adds a comic element to this black comedy, when the girls heads poke out the top of the tent in true Alice in Wonderland style.  Lighting gives the piece a cosy atmosphere, with only one main light at floor level and the Sucker Beast being introduced using only a flash-light.

The true star of this story though, is the writing.  Written by Lucinda Bennett, Wild Beasts has a unique style and darkness to it that balances the comedy beautifully.  Lucinda has certainly achieved the tone she was after with her quirky dialogue.

Unfortunately as the show progresses, it seems to lose its way a little.  We never quite find out why the girls have run away from home, which may make for matter for intrigue but it also leads to a lack of empathy for them.  Our only clues lie within the beasts. We see so little of some of them, though, that we are again left guessing. 

The actors playing the beasts tend to retreat into repetitive voice patterns which may be a sign of the lack of knowledge surrounding them too.  Some of the more interesting devices used in the piece could also lift some of the more static moments, which tend to linger a little too long. 

This is a fantastic idea though and with further character development and trusting in the writing, there is definitely a great play here. 

Wild Beasts is hugely entertaining Prepare to run away to the imagination of your youth; I did.  If you miss telling stories under Mum's old sheets, get along to The Basement. They've even made the tent for you.  
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