Newtown Community & Cultural Centre, Wellington

19/03/2019 - 23/03/2019

NZ Fringe Festival 2019

Production Details

Three flatmates get a new SmartTech fridge that starts to give them unsolicited advice about their unhealthy habits. This show is an exploration of control, addiction and mental health with a science fiction twist.

Newtown Community and Cultural Centre, 7 Colombo Street, Newtown, Wellington 
Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 March 2019
General Admission $15.00
Concession $10.00
Fringe Addict $12.00
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Wheelchair access available

Theatre ,

1 hr 30 min

Pretty heavy-handed

Review by Maryanne Cathro 20th Mar 2019

Back in the ’70s, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy introduced us to the idea that appliances can have personalities. Cheerful elevators, depressed robots – it was a novel concept.  

Binge & Chill takes this idea even further. A new fridge that has Very Strong Ideas about how people should live, and is not afraid to share them.

Before I go on, I think it is important to know that while there is no mention on the Fringe programme online, the actual show programme handed out has a strongly worded trigger warning:

TRIGGER WARNING: This show deals with depictions of mental illness including an array of Addictions and Eating Disorders including Alcoholism, Bulima and Binge Eating Disorder. Feel free to leave any time during the show if the material feels too distressing or seems triggering at all.”

Take heed.

This play is set in the kitchen/living room of a flat. Three people – two young men and a young woman – live here (they are on stage as the audience come in so this is apparent from the outset). One man is sitting on a couch playing with his phone, the other is working on a laptop at the table. The woman is pacing anxiously. Music plays. Bickering about the music ensues. A fridge is delivered.

The fridge is the fourth out of five characters on stage (the fifth being a visiting friend). Its pronouncements, that become increasingly personalised and specific, start to take over the lives of the flat’s occupants. Or maybe just shed some bright, door-activated light upon them.

All of the addictions brought to light in this play are to legal substances: food, alcohol, caffeine and work. This highlights how easily a coping mechanism can become an addiction. But rather like the fridge itself, the play is pretty heavy-handed about it all.

This is a great Fringe piece however – raw and uneven with wobbly production values it may be (all that drinking and eating means a lot of prop management and the lack of credibility becomes annoying and distracting) but it has a lot of potential. Because with subject matter as confronting as this, the audience needs no opportunities for distraction.

And it is good to see our young theatre makers tackling difficult subjects.


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