Check It Out

BATS Theatre, Wellington

19/04/2006 - 29/04/2006

Production Details

by Willow Newey and Kate McGill
Directed by Larry Rew

video by Dawa Devereux

A comedy that is out of it, onto it and into it.

Ever wondered who’s behind the voice floating over the frozen vege asking you to move your 1999 red Honda civic?

Three Circle supermarkets have all the ingredients to be a hotbed of gossip and intrigue.

Checkout girl Brenda-Lee is lost – does she LUV Kev, or is there someone better up another aisle? One checkout over, Geena’s shagging half the meat department, and power-hungry Leo’s ready to squeal.

Meanwhile, ex-swingers/owners Bill and Judy are trying to overcome marriage problems with their business going down the gurgler.

Brenda-Lee Griffiths - Willow Newey
Geena Nolan - Kate McGill
Leo Lemmings - Eli Kent
Bill Hammonds - Tony Wyeth
Judy Hammonds - Desiree Cheer

Set - Rupert
Lighting - Marlayna Saunders

Original music - Jeff Tennant & Aces High

Stage manager - Marlayna Saunders
Lighting/ Sound operator - Sam Downes
AV Operator - Rebecca Lieven
Camera work - Ben Cowper

Poster design - Josh de Bes
Photography - Julia Ferrier

Theatre , Comedy ,

55 mins

Sex-obsessed fizzler

Review by John Smythe 19th Apr 2006

Usually a BATS opening night is attended by so many enthusiastic fans of the perpetrators, it’s hard for a reviewer to get a sense of how a show might appeal to a more general audience. Of course one’s own honest response is the key but theatre-going is a communal experience and it is always important to take other responses into account.

The opening night audience for Check It Out was true to form, ready to whoop and shriek and love every minute of it. And they did for the first ten minutes or so. But slowly the mess of a script took its toll, lines and ideas the writer/performers and the director must have thought of as gags fell flat and the harder the five actors worked at being funny, the less funny it was.

I’d like to say that if the actors – who are all very capable performers – just played their roles for real, the show would settle down and work a treat. But there’s not much reality to be found in their characters. They’re two-dimensional, and the script’s attempts to have something at stake and to generate jeopardy – always hugely useful in comedy – come to nought.

Brenda-Lee (Willow Newey) and Geena (Kate McGill) are a couple of sex-obsessed check-out chicks who work for a couple of sex-obsessed Three Circle Supermarket franchise owners, Bill (Tony Wyeth) and Judy (Desiree Cheer). All four are vacuous.

Only the Assistant Supervisor Leo (Eli Kent) is capable of concerning himself with anything else, although all three women treat him as a sexual object and he doesn’t defend himself much. Even so, far from being the butt of satire about officious little ambitionistas, as I think was intended, he proves something of a god-send for seeming relatively real. But his only reward is to get saddled with one of the girls.

Credibility – always essential for situation comedy, at least at the level of willing suspension of disbelief – is an early casualty. This supermarket has no customers, for a start. For all their training at the Wellington Performing Arts Centre, no-one has been able to invent a stylised way of creating a sense of real-world, peak-time busy-ness to contrast with the breaks. Even the video inserts, also sex-obsessed, include no hint of customers.

Lack of contrast throughout – in character concepts, motivating forces or pacing – and overall lack of plot structure, not to mention some sense of unifying theme, hamper the actors at every turn. There are not even basic set-ups that wind up into some sort of tension before climaxing with laugh-earning pay-offs. What seem like set-ups just fizzle.

I know for a fact that most of these actors are capable of much better work and quite often we do get tantalising glimpses of their skills. They just need much better material to work with.


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