GYPSY RAGE APOCALYPSE
The Moorings, 31 Glenbervie Tce, Wellington
18/02/2014 - 22/02/2014
From the makers of Pirates vs Ninjas comes a saga of blood, vengeance and apocalyptic gypsy rage. “The world will know my heart when it fills with a rage to set the sea on fire.”
“The apocalypse is actually really hard work and there’s dangerous stuff pretty much everywhere.” (Anya GRA survivor)
“Yeah, I kill swamp creatures all the time, its easy as…” (Joe, GRA survivor)
“They are purile disgusting creatures. Get out of your minds and into your bodies” (Jess GRA survivor)
The Moorings, 31 Glenbervie Tce, Thorndon
8pm, 18-22 Feb (60min)
BOOKINGS: www.fringe.co.nz / TICKETS: $18 / 16 / 13
Absurdist distillation of human truth
Review by John Smythe 19th Feb 2014
To outline the basic premise for this play may constitute a spoiler because its slow reveal is part of the dramatic structure. The who, where and why of what we’re confronted with compels and holds our interest, and discerning the answers gives our brief encounter a sense of resolution.
You may wish to stop reading here and simply book your ticket, although I will do my best not to give too much away. Besides, experiencing this show will be much richer than just reading about it.
Something is obviously up when we descend onto The Moorings’ wonderful wooden ballroom and find two gypsy-like characters menacing a third, who has a hood over her head. Is the titular apocalypse in progress or what?
By bringing an almost playful lightness to the way they menace and bribe their prisoner to make her draw a map then disappear, Anya Tate-Manning and Joe Dekkers-Reihana manage to up the ante: are they in full control of their power or are they inexperienced newbies?
As their deranged prisoner, presumably suffering the effects of the suppurating wound on her arm, Jessica Robinson is sublimely animalistic and grotesque (a far cry from the gorgeousness she is usually asked to bring to the stage). There are references to swamp creatures and zombies, as a threatening presence in the beyond, and presumably she is one of them.
It does become apparent quite quickly that we are in the presence of survivors of the Gypsy Rage Apocalypse (GRA). As such, the actors invest their characters with their own names: Anya, Joe – and Jess, who turns up after the opening incident to regain control and recommit the trio to their collective purpose: to get to Invercargill.
A great visual gag regarding the map confirms we are in absurdist (and adult) comedy territory here, and I am on the alert for satirical bite and allegorical overtones.
A series of songs, beautifully sung, reveal their backstory, what they want now, where they are going next. There is dissention in the ranks about whether to go to one place or another, or remain here at The Moorings, but the need for unity prevails when someone else approaches …
Has Brian (Brian Sergent) got something they need? And if so, would it be safe? Meanwhile they certainly have something he wants, and his paean to a good old-fashioned pot of tea captures the simple pleasures of a bygone age, and is but one of the many precious moments to be savoured in this all-too-brief play.
The central trio and then the fourth – all superbly performed – distil a powerful essence of human truth in the way they interact. And the moral dilemma inherent in the ending brings the issue of survival in a dystopian universe, devoid of the civilisation we take for granted, to a thought-provoking head.
That said, if it had gone much longer than its 45 minutes – fluidly staged and tightly paced under the directorial eye of Maria Dabrowska – I’d have wanted more to emerge regarding the whys and wherefores of their circumstances.
Is it a metaphor for the society we have created or a warning for where we are heading? It seems so close to being so much more than a vehicle for excellent performances that it seems a shame not to fulfil that level of potential.
On the other hand, seen as a minimalist ‘Brecht meets Beckett’ exercise, maybe it is nothing more or less than it needs to be. I’m still thinking on that …
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