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CONFIDENT, COMMITTED, COMIC TIMING

Print Version

VELCRO CITY
Created by Eli Matthewson & Hamish Parkinson
Directed by Dan Bain (2013)
Nic Sampson (2014)
presented by R.A.D Productions

at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 18 Feb 2014 to 22 Feb 2014
[1hr]

Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 26 Feb 2013


Hamish Parkinson and Eli Matthewson were last seen on NZ Fringe stages with Square Eye Pair, a bromantic comedy about television, pop culture and the comic possibilities of couches.  It won a bunch of Best Comedy fringe awards, and they took it over to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  

Their latest offering, Velcro City, is a fast and funny comedy set in a small NZ town of the same name. Set and costumes are affixed to the walls and actors with Velcro, and swift costume and scene changes are a challenge to the performers – sticky situations, you might say.

There is a plot in there: Velcro City is beset by the winds of change; new ideas in the form of politics, sexuality, diet and pop music, are causing ructions in the community …

But the pleasure of this show is in its presentation, and the excellent dynamic between the two performers. Parkinson and Matthewson are a slick team, with an easy camaraderie and a confident, committed comic timing.  They are a delight to watch. 

The Velcro set and costume pieces, made by the actors, set the tone of the world: cheap, cheerful and a wee bit childish.  This belies the sophistication of the design, though. It takes no mean skill to colour in something large with felt pens (you have to do all the lines in the same direction or it looks weird) and finding inventive ways to use and surprise with the pieces keeps the design engaging and integrated. 

I must admit I wanted someone to have their Velcro clothes or moustache ripped from their body at some point, but you can't have everything. 

Moustache ripping aside, there are some solid gold moments. I particularly enjoyed the bus driver and bus ride, and the butch/femme couple who run the vegan café also provided a heap of lols.

In terms of content, the script would benefit from further development.  The production feels stuck between improv and playtext – some of the best moments are when something goes wrong.  Accidentally kicking a prop, or a costume piece sliding sideways, prompt the performers – both adept improvisers – to display their ability to adapt on the fly.

The initial story set up seems arbitrary: why are we in this Velcro City? What are these lavender fields? Some more careful weight and structuring of the material that is reincorporated at the end would allow for more pay off. 

There is not the same character depth as in Square Eye Pair, though the show has the same joyful parody and espousal of pop culture references.  I think with further development, and time in front of an audience, the writing can evolve to be as good as the performances. 

Well worth a look. 
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See also reviews by:
 Kate Ward-Smythe
 James Wenley (TheatreScenes: The Auckland Theatre Blog);
 Hannah August
 Erin Harrington
 Patrick Davies