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STRONG ENSEMBLE AND IDIOSYNCRASIES

Print Version

Auckland Fringe 2013
HIGH SCHOOL HANGOVER
Written and Directed by Kate Vox
presented by Catalyst Theatre Company

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

Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 27 Feb 2013


High School is awful, and growing up is worse. High School Hangover explores the horrors of cliquey girl friendships, self-discovery, and the weird and wicked effects that karma and divine intervention may or may not have on our lives.

Henrietta, a snivelly shoe-obsessed sad-sack, has moved on from who she was in high school, but only in her head.  Her fantasy world – boyfriend, job, witty comebacks to slurs – is reinforced by her three ‘friends': a coterie of Mean Girls who appear to always have her back.  But when Henrietta runs into Tara, a popular kid from Henrietta's high school past, her life is set on a collision course for change.

There is youthful exuberance in both subject matter and execution. The cast are uniformly strong. Amelia Reynolds, as Henrietta, plays the comic excesses of the part, while retaining enough vulnerability and grounding in her performance to hit the emotional notes when they are called for.  Playwright, Kate Vox, shines as Tara, and her commitment and charisma make up for the two-dimensionality of her character. The three ‘Invisibles' – Xavier Mercedes-Black, Liesha Ward-Knox, and Jessie Graham – are a strong chorus, who wriggle sinuously about the stage clad in intergalactic lycra and give great face.  

The ensemble is strong, and this is what carries the show. The comedy ranges from broad to goofball, with sections that work brilliantly and others that fall flat. Generally it could do with some solid editing. Some of the emotional monologues need a trim, and the ‘Invisibles', though an ambitious and interesting concept, require further development to be thoroughly woven into the narrative. 

The musical work from Jess Dowlman supports the action beautifully, adding some lovely moments. The cameo from Bronwyn Turei at the top of the show is an endearing way to start, and works particularly well in the casual intimacy of the Basement studio, in which the audience have to enter through the stage space. In other places recorded music is used to good effect – in particular the X-Files theme tune gets regular giggles.

In her writer's note Vox suggests: “it is often through our idiosyncrasies that we bond and are loved by those whom we allow to catch glimpses of our truest selves.”  High School Hangover is certainly idiosyncratic and if you'd like to glimpse some strong woman giving great performances then get along to see this show.
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