NAPOLEONíS BATTLE AT BATS A DOOMED EXERCISE
by Michael Pohl
Directed by Shannon Friday
Presented by Backyard Theatre
at BATS (Out-Of-Site) Understudy Bar, Wellington
Until 3 May 2014
[10min - Fri & Sat only]
Reviewed by John Smythe, 15 Feb 2014
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time: present a 10-minute play in Bats' Understudy Bar at 7.30 pm then another at 9pm, in the half-hour between the ends of the 6.30 and 8pm shows and the starts of the next.
In practice, however (based on the first one this Friday night), two problems arise. First, they start the show before punters from Horatio have time to get a drink then get into the Understudy. A five minute delay may be in order?
Second, and less easy to remedy, is the noise from the crowded Bats Bar, the two spaces being separated only by a velvet curtain (which remains open for seven of the 10 minutes this first time).
Fortunately the audience is well disposed towards the first playlet (if it has a name we have not been informed). Musician Emma Wollhum sets the mood with a deft piece of piano accordion playing, then a corporate Human Resources Manager (Cordelia Black) appears and thanks us for applying for the advertised positions.
The absurdist premise is that Napoleon Bonaparte (Hugo Randall) is an applicant for the Supervisor position. And being a domineering type, it's appropriate that he speaks very loudly. Thank goodness.
The gag is in the juxtaposition between his historically monumental deeds and the modern HR matrix passed over them by his interviewer. Michael Pohl's script is clearly well researched but the circumstances make its delivery expository and declamatory, so any emotional, psychological or vocal modulation that might have generated comedy is doomed.
I was unable to get back for the 9pm show, and I'm told it had finished by the time people who had just seen I Could Live Here could get to it. I am also told the second playlet involved Napoleon undergoing a performance appraisal.
Who knows what the offerings this Saturday or next Friday and Saturday will be (Pohl has penned eight 10-minute absurdist plays in all). Maybe they all use Napoleon to comment on today's employment environment. But as a Free/Koha/pay what you think they're worth gig, they are definitely worth checking out.
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|Dean Hewison||posted 16 Feb 2014, 11:58 AM / edited 18 Feb 2014, 09:02 PM|
The main absurdity for me was pitching a show for a particular audience and then not allowing that audience to see it. Hope they fix that.