Fight or Flight

BATS Theatre, Wellington

02/03/2007 - 10/03/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Written & Devised by BRAVE
Directed by Harriette Cowan


What are YOU scared of?

A quirky physical comedy about fear and all the phobias that hold us back in life.

From our mundane superstitions to our life shattering moments the phobia’s we carry are explored and examined in this new devised work by BRAVE.

BRAVE’s last Fringe Festival show Anything to Declare? by Mel Dodge was a sold out success that also travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where Mel stumbled upon the idea for a new play about fear in the age of the ‘terror attacks’.

“We were at the airport coming back home after Edinburgh at the time of the last attack on London. We were restricted to plastic carry on luggage and it was surreal how docile those around us were in giving up their liberties in the name of fear.”

Starring and devised by Mel Dodge, Gene Alexander, Robyn Patterson and Nat Bolt a variety of characters are explored from a woman obsessed with terror attacks, a man who has a fear of commitment, monsters under the bed, creepy crawlies and OCDs.

Starring and devised by Mel Dodge, Gene Alexander, Robyn Patterson and Nat Bolt

Theatre ,

1 hr

Highly interesting; could go deeper

Review by Eleanor Bishop 10th Mar 2007

Fight or Flight explores the lives of four characters whose lives coincide as they wait for their plane to take off – Karen (Nathalie Boltt), an efficient, no nonsense data collector; Melissa (Robyn Paterson), a giggly, hippie backpacker; Lauren (Mel Dodge), an annoyingly smug real estate agent and Phillip (Gene Alexander), a super smooth airline steward. The setting is a tool for exploring fear, and our fear of it. The rocky exteriors of the characters slowly dissipate as they are faced with the possibility of the plane being a terrorist target as they wait for passenger Mohammed to board the plane, his luggage having already been checked on.

The first part of the play, which is basically exposition, has some hilarious moments – Paterson’s character here is a highlight, full of ridiculous stories, travel Taro and stories of her unlucky undies. The use of recorded voiceovers as the inner monologues of the characters coping with the awkwardness of being stuck on a plane with strangers, works well. However, the first section feels very slow, constrained by the fact that the scene can’t move from within the confines of the plane.

The play then moves into surrealistic scenes dealing with the fears of these characters and their pasts. Karen’s fear is her inability to cope with lack of humanity in the world that she reads about in the newspapers. This ‘fear’ was represented innovatively – through a rhyming rhythmic poem about Karen eating the newspaper to ‘kill’ the stories. The other character’s fears and histories are presented in not quite so innovative terms – Phillip’s guilt over telling girlfriend to ‘fuck off and die’, which unfortunately she then does, is manifested as a room of voices questioning him about his actions.

Fight or Flight scratches the surface of some highly interesting characters, but I wanted to go deeper. However, it is currently a very entertaining show, and the opening night audience loved the highly modern, easily identifiable characters.  


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Only briefly airborne

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 05th Mar 2007

Fight or Flight is a comic look at the basic human instinct of fear, though the play starts and is later occasionally interrupted by a theatrical heightening of the real thing: brief interludes of mimed fear accompanied by terrifying sound effects.

A real estate agent (Mel Dodge), a data researcher (Nathalie Boltt) and a young woman (Robyn Paterson) who travels with her Tarot cards and gets her knickers in a twist if she’s not wearing her lucky undies, are seated next to each other on a flight bound for Los Angeles. A smarmy flight attendant (Gene Alexander) gives erratic assistance to his charges.

The plane hasn’t left Auckland because one passenger with an Arabic name is missing though his luggage is in the hold and has to be removed.

All one’s fears about flying are humorously portrayed, but I found the funniest and most telling moments were not to do with fear but with the niggles of air travel: praying the seat next to you will remain empty, the eccentric and irritating habits of complete strangers who will insist on making conversation when all you want is to withdraw into your safe shell.

Inner voice voice-overs, physical comedy, one or two good jokes, and four lively performances got Fight or Flight airborne for a short while but it never felt that it was flying in the direction of its announced destination.
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Quirky comedy

Review by John Smythe 03rd Mar 2007

With fear being the major political tool of the century it is essential and inevitable that theatre addresses it. Fight or Flight, devised by Brave Theatre, exploits the theme for character-based physical comedy, through three woman passengers and a male flight attendant on an international flight.

Karen White (Nathalie Boltt) is an uptight data researcher who is aware of Mike Moore documentaries, is reading John Pilger and heading for a conference on the politics of fear. Melissa (Robyn Patterson) is a somewhat New-Agey free spirited lesbian who gets into wacky raves about lucky undies and the like.

Loren (Mel Dodge), a real estate agent, comes well prepared with her neck cushion and fears about Arabs intact (she has nothing against them, they shouldn’t be allowed on planes, it’s not fair on the rest of us). The Flight Attendant (Gene Alexander) is on another plane when it comes to being focused on his job.

The whole play takes place on a plane that stays grounded because a passenger whose baggage is in the hold has not boarded the aircraft. This precipitates a range of fears that are dramatised through inner voice voice-overs, comic interactions and abstract stylisations, generating an hour of idiosyncratic fun.

The early promise of penetrating satire becomes subsumed in strange preoccupations that don’t resonate much beyond themselves. But as a starting point for this type of comedy it works and the opening night audience was delighted.
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