Credenza, Level 2, 40 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington

10/03/2020 - 13/02/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

The Wellington Eudaimonic Society

Are you fulfilled? Are you seeking something? Are you seeking fulfillment?

Dr Barry Roberts has the answers to these questions – to your questions. The key to the passage of eudaimonia is in your hands.

Credenza, Level 2, 40 Taranaki St, Te Aro
Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 March 2020
Price General Admission $10.00 Fringe Addict $7.00
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Wheelchair access available

Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr 30 min

A surprisingly memorable twist on everyday reality

Review by Michael Gilchrist 11th Mar 2020

Upon entering a corporate building foyer, show-goers are confronted by a squad of people in white coats whose job it is to ascertain eligibility for participation in the Wellington Eudaimonia Society. This process turns out to be an introduction to the show’s lab-test style of crowd interaction.

Staff are sterile, stand offish and authoritarian. Once formally organized by number and in single file, seminar participants are split through a process of self-selection. Individual experience and group activity become recurrent themes, both under the intense scrutiny of overseers with white coats and clipboards. [No programme means performers cannot be named.]

As two groups we make our way to a waiting room with snacks, pens and a strange water bowl. Various puzzles and directives steer dialogue between show-goers and performers with the focus often shifting uncomfortably from the former to the latter. The manner in which the white coats lead their hapless participants morphs into military style low level intimidation from a man in a blue suit.

Participants are aggressively introduced to Eudaimonics and its structure through the comparison with a beehive. Things grow stranger still. The feature of the night is ‘talks’ with the ‘famed’ Dr Barry Roberts. The Doctor attempts to woo our cohort, waxing lyrical on happiness with what is best described as deliberate absurdity. An official from the Festival itself tries to intervene. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold.

There’s lots to enjoy in this unique theatre experience. Every waiting room skirts the surreal, for example, and at times that potential is nicely exploited. There’s lots of playing with the role of the theatre-goer, while participants are genuinely part of the action. Familiar situations are re-contextualised. Our love of hierarchy struggles with our love of happiness. Our individual quest for happiness contends with our desire to conform.

The performers put in some dedicated work, especially the leader of the white coated ‘Eudaimons’ who effortlessly captures a dominator vibe, and there are strong performances from the ideological leaders. The scripting toward the climax needs to be tighter – and a stronger, more compressed dramatic structure is needed toward the end.

But if you want perfection don’t go to the Fringe. There’s heaps of stimulating ideas and theatrical invention in this event – and a lot of the time I feel fully immersed in a surprisingly memorable twist on everyday reality. Weird, but worth it. 


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