A Krazy Kristmas

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

07/12/2011 - 11/12/2011

Production Details

“Hang on a minute, missy. Mrs Stevenson said we had to practice Santa Claus is coming to town in our break.”

Crazy Christmas carollers, awkward relatives, working the Christmas shift at Mobil, the home shopping network and Coca-Cola Christmas in the park – nothing is safe from the acerbic pen of New Zealand’s most prolific playwright.

From the writer of TV’s Super City, and fringe favourite Joseph and Mahina, comes six short plays to put you into the Christmas spirit.

Thursday 8th – Saturday 11th December 7pm

Prices*: $20

* Booking fees may apply 

Sam Bunkall, Helen Corry, Lara Fischel-Chisholm, Kura Forrester, Virginia Frankovich, Andrew Hedley, Ash Jones, Samantha Jukes, Renee Lyons, Roberto Nascimento, Claire Van Beek, Ryan Richards, Nic Sampson, Lee Smith-Gibbons, Dan Veint  

Nicely charcoaled humour for the silly season

Review by Candice Lewis 09th Dec 2011

My friend and I climb the steep, darkened staircase to find we are the first to enter the rudimentary theatre space. It fills up quickly, and we enjoy watching people as they arrive.

Sainsbury has created six highly entertaining mini plays that invite us to be the proverbial fly on the wall. Each vignette segues into another, getting progressively darker.

Starting with ‘Christmas Carollers’, Pania (Kura Forrester) and Tanya (Lee Smith-Gibbons) are two painfully manipulative and competitive Christian women inventing their own idea of ‘happily ever after’.  Forrester hams it up big time, and Smith-Gibbons captures the artificial joy masking simmering frustrations inherent in many religious organisations.

This is followed by ‘The Car Trip’. Is there anything more irritating that sharing a long journey with a passenger only capable of monosyllables? Not for Simon (Nic Sampson) there isn’t. He gives his sister’s boyfriend a lift to their parents place for Christmas, but Grant (Ryan Richards) is the kind of guy who could easily pass three hours without saying a word. The acting in this piece is fascinating. I know these people. I’ve flatted with Simons and attempted conversations with Grants. These guys have the subtleties down, and it’s beautiful to watch. 

Likewise the portrayal of Peter (Roberto Nascimento) in ‘The Christmas Shift’. His calm response to a dangerous situation when working at a gas station on Christmas day engenders feelings of great tenderness and admiration. The other players in this particular drama are meant to be on glue, but they don’t have the tell-tale spills down the fronts of their shirts or cakey stuff around their noses and mouths.

Used to be a few glue-sniffers on K Rd years back. They tended to be clutching a puffed out plastic bag, eyes glazed and red, clothes appearing to have been pilfered from the skip of the Salvation Army. Now you have to visit Avondale to find excuses not to give them a dollar. Although Brenda (Virginia Frankovich) and Rocket (Dan Veint) seemed more like they were on P than glue, their performances were entertaining, and I like their costumes. (Frankovich is wearing the classic Westie hippy velvet dress, yay!). 

‘Christmas in the Park’ is a satirical romp at the expense of cruel advertising whores, in this case, the ones flogging Coke in the name of Christmas. Kaz (Claire Van Beek), Mitch (Sam Bunkall) and Scott (Andrew Hedley) are coming up with what will go down for the park extravaganza, and each of them are just perfect in their roles. We wince when Van Beek’s Kaz continues to say incredibly inappropriate things, and her ability to shift from a movie star smile to a cold Nazi stare is simply terrifying.

What was almost magical was that an advertising agency were actually having a party downstairs and those of us attending the play had to scuttle down the fire escape when we left. I imagined the person organising their staff party saying, “Well we want somewhere edgy, but we don’t want any uncontrolled elements trying to drink our wine. Tell you what, just make sure we don’t have to see those people when they leave the play. Make them go down the fire escape! Ha ha ha ha!” 

In a similar vein, Vanessa (Lara Fischel-Chisholm) considers herself successful, superior and goes from saccharine to psycho in less than three seconds. She takes a wee sniff of cocaine, practices her lines (ha!) and is horrified when an unexpected change in co-host is foisted upon her in ‘Home Shopping’. Flo (Renee Lyons) is sort of sweet, goofy and gung-ho, but before long we find things are not always what they first appear to be. Rather slapstick, but works well and I laughed as hard as the rest of the audience (which was quite hard).   

To finish, ‘Secret Santa’ taps into the dark side! Andrew (Ash Jones) and Hannah (Helen Corry) are at work when they find rather unpleasant messages in their Christmas cards, signed by ‘Santa’. Is it really Santa or is someone just playing a joke?  This particular play is fantasist and black in humour, and you know that’s got to be a good thing when we’re going to be saturated with ‘touching’ Christmas stories wherever else we turn this month. Take your loved ones, your slightly precocious children, and enjoy some nicely charcoaled humour for the silly season.   

In terms of direction, I enjoyed the restraint in ‘The Car Trip’ and some aspects of ‘The Christmas Shift’ (Thomas Sainsbury). Jessica Joy Wood (‘Christmas Carollers’) seems to draw on a larger than life, almost Lucille Ball style physical slapstick. Prue Clark also goes with that approach in ‘Home Shopping’, but it is balanced against the insincere calm the women project when they know they’re being filmed. 


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