Christchurch Arts Centre - The Backstage Social Club, Christchurch

14/02/2020 - 16/02/2020

World Buskers Festival 2020 | BREAD & CIRCUS

Production Details

188 Years of Bullshit

You saw him on What We Do In The Shadows, now join him as he recounts 188 years of bullshit.

For so long DEACON THE VAMPIRE has missed the gentle touch of his long lost love Lucy. Lucy was the best! So funny and clever, such a ball breaker and what a dancer! They were so happy together, or so he remembers.

Recently cracks have begun creeping through the perfection of his precious memories. Like when he offered to bite her so they could live together forever, she seemed so happy she fell off her chair laughing. And the time he made her sneak to the shops for clean dishes and birthday cake candles only to be arrested by the Nazis never to be seen again. For 60 cold dark years Deacon searched for her.

But now there is one last place to look, that place no one dares to look for fear of what they will find. Deacon must peer into the deep dark cracks of his dusty self? Only there will he find the truth. It might be sexy, but it won’t be pretty.

Warnings: R16 – Coarse Language, Adult Themes

The Backstage Social Club – The Arts Centre
14 -16 Feb 2020

Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

1 hr 5 min

As if Lord Byron were a sulky emo with a penchant for mid-career Radiohead

Review by Erin Harrington 15th Feb 2020

Deacon the Vampire: 188 Years of Bullshit graces us with a hilarious late-night interview with a vampire, in which performer Jonny Brugh offers up all the delicious fringe-y weirdness that I’ve been missing from this year’s World Buskers Festival.

This hour-long show fleshes out the backstory alluded to in the cult mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, piecing together ‘bad boy’ Deacon’s childhood in 1830s Romania (lots of drama with goats), his expulsion from his village (more drama with goats), his unexpected turn to vampirism, and the curly road to his arrival in New Zealand (by way of genocide, boy bands, war criminals, and true love).

Throughout, the gothic Romanticism we’d expect from vampire narratives – accentuated here through Brugh’s open-throated linen shirt, fishnet singlet and piratey leather pants – is undermined with absurdity and bathos. There’s a great juxtaposition between the character’s cocky self-assuredness, his complete lack of self-awareness and his adolescent moodiness (everything is bullshit!), as if Lord Byron were a sulky emo with a penchant for mid-career Radiohead.  

The set helps, too: the backdrop in the Backstage Social Club features lush red curtains, which sit well against Deacon’s crappy faded armchair and dated boom box. Some minimal but well-placed lighting elements and subtle shifts in sound both enrich the sense of environment and make for some great visual and aural gags. Although the show is sold out, things still feel intimate, but the sightlines in the venue are a bit tricky, which means anything close to the ground is lost for those not up the front (in the virgin section) or on the aisle.

Throughout, Brugh is a captivating performer and storyteller, draping himself over his chair, flicking beautifully between louche and skeevy with the raise of an eyebrow. He’s a precise physical comedian and a deft mime, too. My companion is immensely taken with what she terms his ‘lizardy’ erotic dance, all gyrating hips and wavy arms, which he cracks out as both a form of self-expression and a means of seduction.

From a dramaturgical perspective, I’m not entirely sure if the arc and pace of the hour best milks the scenario and material yet; it’s a little uneven. That said, perhaps that’s irrelevant, as there’s a counter-intuitiveness to the narrative and its presentation that I find both entertaining and compelling, as if Deacon the vampire (as opposed to Brugh the performer) wanted to put on a show but didn’t quite know how. This is best expressed in a throwaway comment late in the show, that Deacon finds his minor celebrity post-Shadows “annoying”, which recasts our audience with the vampire both a source of pleasure and resentment. Narrative expectations are undermined, the ‘point’ of the show is uncertain until Deacon tells us at the end, and the relationship between audience and performer is kinda wobbly, but all to great comedic effect.

At the end, some people are on their feet, Deacon is inviting us to his next ‘bullshit’ gig, up the road at the Spiegeltent, and a whole room of virgins is spilling out into the night, happily hypnotised. 

[See review for the Rotorua Festival development season, entitled DEACON.]


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council