Former Education Board /AH Reed /Skinners Building, 33 Jetty St, Dunedin

20/03/2013 - 22/03/2013

Dunedin Fringe 2013

Production Details

A misfit band of ageing theatrical mercenaries are thrown together in a seemingly abandoned building to put on a show that will propel them, if not into the spotlight, then at least into legal accommodation. With everything in short supply, will this disparate group reach the giddying heights of fame, or are they doomed to tired karaoke at the local RSA? 

As the disparate troupe embark upon the creative process, they face the daily absurd struggles of both communal living and co-operative devising. With food, funding and toilet paper in short supply and the threat of eviction overshadowing the group’s endeavours, they must overcome their artistic differences in a series of comical encounters.

Will they beat the odds? Find out as you join them, quite literally, on their theatrical odyssey, where they walk (and sometimes snort) the line between a life of art and the art of life. 

A newly devised comedy-theatre show – from the creators of the popular and irreverent “Cab Sav” and “Ad Hoc” cabarets – Ad Hoc Productions presents a wry and hilarious take on the world of performing arts amidst a backdrop of geo-political deficiency and low-fi complexity.  

This new work is a departure from and exploration beyond the Ad Hoc cabaret format. Devised by Kiri Bell, Kaitrin McMullan, Sandra Muller and Karin Reid … and featuring a few stragglers… (if we’re lucky!) 

Nominees Best Narration/Script – 2012 Dunedin Theatre Awards. 

Former Education Board /AH Reed /Skinners Building, 33 Jetty St
March 20, 21, 22;

Strong start but drifts into mish-mash

Review by Terry MacTavish 21st Mar 2013

Ad Hoc Productions fills a useful place in the local theatre scene, gathering talented people to concoct some intriguing pieces of musical theatrical whimsy, in 2012 gaining a nomination for Best Script in the Theatre Awards.  Break In is the latest; more play, less cabaret; a racy story about what are rather unkindly self-described as an aging band of theatrical mercenaries. 

The company has chosen a fantastic venue I’ve never seen before: the historic, decaying but beautiful building that once housed Reed Publishing.  A perfect setting for Break In, it is transformed to the seedy Vulva Underground bar, with all the tacky faded splendour of a bordello: fringed lamp shades and velvet drapes; a narcoleptic in tails sagging over the old piano. Oh, and a giant rat crouched above the picture rail. Also with a tail.

The opening holds great promise: we are just getting to know the dashing nightclub owner Joyce, acted with enormous panache by Kaitrin McMullan in tight red velvet and bouncing blonde curls, when we are alarmed by the unmistakeable sounds of a break-in. Joyce commands her dweeby nephew, Dickie, played by Richard West, to plunge us into darkness, where we await events in a silence broken only by smothered nervous giggles. 

Flashing torch-light gives us exciting glimpses of a strange pair of anarchic theatrical terrorists: Kitty Litter, a swaggeringly assured black-clad Kiri Bell, and her partner in crime (and some ruder connections), Sandra Muller as Wolf, in wild black wig. Once the lights are switched on and the burglars are caught in the act, they all rather surprisingly decide to form a new cabaret group that will challenge establishment theatre.

From here things seem to drift, as if even the actors are not too sure where they are meant to end up. Kitty and Wolf move into digs in the nightclub, shown to grand effect in an artfully lit window on the mezzanine floor above our heads.

A succession of odd performers turn up to audition for the club, but with the exception of a very disturbing teddy bear, they all turn out to be Dickie, who is determined to be accepted as an actor. A confused mish-mash ensues as the underground group concoct and abandon crazy plans to rival the National.

There are theatre in-jokes – “Make me an offer!” / “Would you like me to paint your toenails?” – and some topical references: the Dunedin Stadium comes in for its customary tongue-lashing. We get snatches of beautifully delivered song, enough to make me wish for more; the loose storyline would easily support more music. I am disappointed to miss director Karin Reid’s lovely voice, a stand-out in other Ad Hoc presentations. 

The audience react with delight, however, to a raunchy burlesque number featuring splendidly tasselled nipples. The unexpected arrival of new characters provides fresh interest, but they are not used to full advantage. It seems a mistake to (literally) gag ebullient Joyce, the character (and actor) who is most in control. Without her confident input the action falters and some groping for lines is apparent. 

There is a charm to casually improvised shows but this is just a bit too Ad Hoc. Tighter scripting and longer rehearsal time would have allowed Break In to fulfil its potential as a really entertaining and cheerfully irreverent piece of theatre.

But there is plenty to enjoy in the unconventional setting and the exuberance of the performers, and even a chancy first night performance has laughs enough to send many Fringe punters away happy. 


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