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Print Version

by The PlayGround Collective
devised and performed by Simon Leary, Victoria Abbott, Joel Baxendale and Gareth Hobbs with director Robin Kerr and writer Eli Kent
Produced by Show Pony

at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 20 May 2014 to 31 May 2014
[1hr 30mins (no interval)]

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 23 May 2014
originally published in The Dominion Post

As the lights dim at the start of All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever a computerised voice enthuses over the moment when a play is about to start, the most exciting part of any evening in the theatre. The voice has high hopes that tonight will be the night.

Actually the last two minutes of AYWANFF are the most exciting, not because it was ending but because it was a visually impressive, funny and scary climactic scene in this representation of the forces shaping the search of 25 year-old Simon Simon (played by Simon Leary) for “something fundamental” he feels is missing in his life. 

Simon, who lives in Aro Valley with his three pet rats, is an electronics engineering student at Vic. His flat is completely bare, shiny white and with an exit sign above a door. His mind seems to be controlled or certainly influenced not only by the computerised voice but also by his three flatmates who spend their time in a large untidy cupboard-like space with apertures in the wall next to Simon's room.  

Victoria, Joel and Gareth carry out the instructions of the computerised voice as well as providing the background radio and TV voices of Simon's world as well as thrusting various things through the apertures including a large parcel which may or may not provide Simon with all his wants and needs fulfilled forever.

The search for this elusive fundamental something is, as the production's publicity is at pains to point out, an absurd comedy. One of the points made about the play is that life is unpredictable and therefore the play's narrative will “mischievously subvert our expectations”. But this is only holds true if you expect life to like a Hollywood movie, which is what we get in one beautifully timed and mimed comic action scene when Simon fights off unseen baddies.

It is, however, the unpredictable theatricality of Playground Collective that wins the day thanks to the writing of Eli Kent and Victoria Abbott, Joel Baxendale, and Gareth Hobbs (who provides the music as well as the sound) as the three flatmates.
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe
 Sarah Burrell