Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

11/07/2014 - 26/07/2014

SELECTA: The Next Big Thing 2014

Production Details

Auckland Theatre Company’s 2014 youth show The Selecta opens at The Basement    


After a hugely successful, sold-out season of Like There’s No Tomorrow in 2013, Auckland Theatre Company will present its 2014 Next Big Thing performance, The Selecta, at Basement Theatre from 12 July. 

Immersive theatre, buskers, vaudeville, poetry, acrobatics and Mr Whippy come together in a multi-faceted theatre experience comprising three separate, short productions. Created in collaboration with the young casts and crews, The Selectaunites fresh ideas with the very best emerging theatre talent.

The Selecta season comprises:
6:30pm  SKIN  |  7:30pm  GIANT TEETH  |  9:00pm  DNA 

Giant Teeth, written and directed by Company of Giants’ Laurel Devenie and Katy Maudlin, is a wild vaudeville from the creators of The Odyssey (TAPAC). Starting in a Mr Whippy van and going nuts from there, Giant Teeth is vaudeville for the 21st century; a mash-up of musicians, minstrels and misfits. 

Featuring costumes by designer and stylist Steven Starkey (Lord of the Flies), Giant Teeth stars Adel Abied, Michelle Atkinson, Kierron Diaz-Campbell, Alex Dyer, Ella Edward, Caela Groenewald, Ravi Gurunathan, Brie Hill, Sean Janssen, Ruby Love and Mataara Stokes. 

Attendees have two choices with The Selecta – they can watch the three shows in isolation (approx. one hour each) or opt for the marathon option, watching all three back-to-back.

The SELECTA Season

11 Jul – 26 Jul 2014
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Auckland  

6:30pm  SKIN  Book Tickets for Skin!
7:30pm  GIANT TEETH 
Book Tickets for Giant Teeth!
9:00pm  DNA  Book Tickets for DNA!


Grit the Teeth

Review by James Wenley 16th Jul 2014

Giant Teeth, devised by its cast, shares thematic similarities with Skin, also displaying a distinct generational point of view, but the format could not be more different. We move upstairs, ushered through a hurried and outrageously carnivalesque-costumed cast making last minute preparations backstage (I’m asked to help straighten the neck of a blue PVC sailor’s costume), given crazy hats, and find ourselves in a unrecognisable Basement Studio with its very own (not very) big top calico circus tent. We are now in a world of the teenage freaks; where bodies don’t always do what you want, and fear and delight come in equal measure. 

The vaudeville company have many tricks up their sleeves: they sing (beautifully!), dance, and boost the audience’s selfie self-esteem. To name a few acts … [More]


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Ultimately cathartic experience for all

Review by Stephen Austin 14th Jul 2014

Audience are bundled upstairs, through the cast dressing room space, encouraged to find a colourful hat to wear from amongst the exploded performer detritus and plonked into a seat in the tiny calico circus tent created in the Basement Studio space, cast milling busily preparing the space, and themselves, for the impending performance.

What happens over the next hour is nothing short of magical. 

Ringmaster Ahi the Great (a super lithe, glittery and slightly embittered Ravi Gurunathan) introduces us to the theme of confronting fears and finding true happiness, to the backing of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’.

We’re presented with the troupe of twelve through fast, flashy montage, skilful vaudevillian trickery and surprisingly snappy wordplay.  It’s a whirlwind of bright costumes, crazy characters and old-time showmanship of the freak show, set against a broken modern sensibility that’s never positioned in tone of the ironic or sarcastic. 

Directors Laurel Devenie and Katy Maudlin have coaxed a spectacular amount of skill out of these already talented performers and built an internal world for them to riff on and break free of the constraints of the realistic and mundane.

Each is given their moment to shine with specific performance specialization, whether it’s innocent gymnastic grace, a musical bent, a knack for storytelling or a certain physicality that makes them standout. And each understand their role to its fullest extent in this madcap, almost Looking-Glass world.

We’re offered reflection of modern existence versus the old world ways of doing things, innocence versus sophistication, style versus substance.

There’s so much room given to audience seating and so little to performance space, that the twelve performers must clamour for room on the stage, but this is totally fitting to the feeling of marginalisation that surround the darker themes at play here.

That set, oh that set, so painstakingly sewn together to encase us in this tragi-comic world of circus, yet so easily manipulated to provide suggestive reveals and suggestive backdrops. The painted floor and large lion taming podium are nicely tarnished to evoke the sense of history and familiarity. 

Steven Starkey’s costumes seem at first a hodge-podge of punky styles and anachronisms, but it’s all at service of making the historical, gender, personal and sexual politics so immediate and provoking. 

Soundscapes are all created live by the cast, whether via musical means or simply through acapella percussiveness.

Bare bulbs light the space, give a harsh angled edge to the action that highlight the insanity of it all, while jangling the nerves fully.

By the end the confined space is completely over-heated by both performers and audience, but none of us mind as this has been such an ultimately cathartic experience for all.

This would make a riotous late-night immersive fringe festival cabaret piece in its own right. Quite quite brilliant! 

See also reviews for Skin and DNA in ATC’s The Selecta season.


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