32 Flavours

BATS Theatre, Wellington

16/02/2006 - 19/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details


Ice-cream, escapism and stolen panties … a rum and raisin accounting student, a vanilla construction worker and a gold rush dreamer live above an ocecream shop. When times get tough they hit the throne and take solace in the tub.

Virginia Spackman)
Ingrid Berry
William Neil
Stuart Henderson

Theatre ,

50 mins

Tasty talent could do better

Review by John Smythe 30th Mar 2006

As an actor-devised performance piece, 32 Flavours manages to rise above the clichés of flatmate dramas by blending physical ingenuity with a whimsical wit and lightness of touch – mostly. For a good start, flatmates Erin, Julia and Geoff are not slackers.

A footy-shirt-‘n’-shorts boy from the ‘Naki, Geoff (William Neill) is gainfully employed on a building site. In the process of trying to find herself and her vocation, always job-seeking Julia (Ingrid Berry) takes on a diverse range of roles through a temp agency.

Erin (Virginia Spackman), on the other hand, has been thrust into ownership of an ice-cream retail outlet and the dwelling above it. She has yet to enjoy the usual freedoms and rites of passage that might make her ready, willing and able to accept the responsibilities she already has.

Into their lives comes German back-packer Rupert (Stuart Henderson), happy to pay $100 a week to occupy the spare room. Although we discover very little about their backgrounds or future desires, each character establishes an entirely credible and likeable presence.

As an ensemble they excel in evoking work experiences, video games, TV commercials, a game show, a building site … Given they are BA students in theatre and not performing arts students, their creative and physical skills in performance have to be applauded. 

What’s missing, however, is the ability to honour what they have already established, let alone build on it to further advantage. For example, when Erin decides to sell up and take off overseas, not one of the flatmates reacts to the obvious implications for them. While the characters experience slight highs and lows, the deep-felt emotions that go to the heart of great comedy are almost entirely absent.

There is no real jeopardy to drive their actions or add depth to the drama and comedy. The closest we come is with an inspired parody of the Jeopardy game show, now called ‘Geoffrey’, in which Geoff attempts to win a date with one of two desirable women by working out the questions they already have answers to.

The contrivance of having Geoff turn up to work in his night-clubbing clothes, just so his blokey mates can razz him – presumably as a character-building experience – falters at the level of basic credibility.

The devisors’ quest for an ending has led them into gauche resolutions. Julia’s belief that her wide-ranging work experience has equipped her to take a management position without further training is naïve, and Erin’s realisation that she needs to upskill and get better organised as a business woman comes over as didactic.

That said, if this talented team come out of their Fringe foray with a clear sense of where they (like Erin) need to upskill, this exercise will have been more than worthwhile. Meanwhile there’s lots of entertainment value to be had in the show as is.


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Director badly needed

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 30th Mar 2006

Fringe Theatre shows about flats and flatmates are fortunately rather uncommon these days, 32 Flavours, currently playing late night at BATS as part of Fringe 06 being this year’s exception.

Three flatmates, Erin (Virginia Spackman), Julia (Ingrid Berry) and Geoff (William Neill) live in a flat about an ice cream shop managed by Erin. A German student Rupert (Stuart Henderson) arrives and they offer him a room.  Rupert trying to fit in while the three get on with their lives is the essence of the play.  With the potential for developing an interesting scenario of underlying tensions and frictions as 4 totally different personalities try to integrate themselves into a environment of living together this show is nothing more than a series of mini scenes too brief to support any dramatic tension. 

There is no mention in the programme of a writer or director and so one assumes it was a group effort and while the four actors are very energetic and slick in moving from scene to scene and do create some inventive business between scenes, a director standing outside giving the piece some focus is badly needed.


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