Hellcat & Jeeks

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

07/02/2007 - 10/02/2007

Production Details

Written and performed by Lauren Jackson and Jackie van Beek

Following a highly successful season at the Word Buskers festival, two of New Zealand theatre’s brightest stars, Lauren Jackson and Jackie van Beek, draw on their writing and performing experience to bring Hellcat & Jeeks to life.

Hellcat & Jeeks is one of the only female comedy duos to emerge from NZ since the eighties phenomenon of The Topp Twins.

Hellcat is a self-diagnosed Star in the Making. Jeeks is a Social Pariah…on a good day.

They’ve joined forces. It’s an absolute disaster!

From 19th century chit chat to 20th century fist fights. From coalmine disasters to soothing musical interludes. From inappropriate urine gags to highly appropriate black and white minstrel numbers. The show goes swimmingly until Uncle Dad goes Bad.

60 minutes of diabolical comedy with five touching moments and three songs.

Written and performed by Lauren Jackson and Jackie van Beek.

Theatre ,

Funny 'cause it's not

Review by Nik Smythe 08th Feb 2007

Two women take on the imposing task of entertaining Auckland audiences with their traditionally contrived original comedy.

There’s nothing greatly original in the set-up.  I don’t mean it’s not innovative; it certainly is at times.  Anyway this is sketch comedy so all it needs to be is funny, right?  And it is.  The first couple of minutes are awkward, maybe on purpose, but they warm up quickly.

Hellcat (Lauren Jackson) is the uptight Prada-wannabe control freak older sister type who always tells everyone how to play the game and gets angry when they don’t do it right.  Jeeks (Jackie van Beek) is the idiot savant who plays the game her own way, with the best of intentions, thereby rendering Hellcat angry.

Comparisons are inevitable so here’s mine:  Female counterparts to local heroes Sugar & Spice; classic high/low status comedy a la Laurel & Hardy; deconstructivist comedy from the school of Fry & Laurie or French & Saunders.  That’ll do.

It is somewhat unpolished in places, sometimes seemingly intentional, other times less so, but every budget effect and unfunny joke is cleverly justified with the premise that these two characters are basically talentless yoyos fleecing our ticket dollar with essentially sub-standard entertainment – that classic running punchline from the comedy school of Funny ‘Cause It’s Not.

A major highlight is Jeeks’ guitar, disguised in a sheet with a monster mask so Hellcat won’t smash it, which suddenly starts talking to her, making astutely crass remarks and evil suggestions.  It’s a great piece with classic potential, however the short lead-up scenes through the show with Jeeks wanting to play a song and Hellcat refusing to allow it, are a lot less convincing and seem to have obviously been contrived to support the climactic scene.

There were many other lovely, clever and downright hilarious moments that I am loathe to elucidate for fear of spoilage.  Jackson and van Beek have done well self-directing this piece and are clearly driven in their mission to be bloody hard case spinners.  I believe they would improve considerably with some external directorial input.

My overall impression is that this is a newly devised show, (debuted at the Christchurch Buskers’ Festival) with flashes of brilliance, typically under-rehearsed in the kiwi tradition, and set to be honed and polished on the circuit.

Endnote:  In defence of any performance at the Herald Theatre, I feel a need to mention that I’ve never liked the space.  The extreme angling of the auditorium makes it hard for the performers and audience to connect, and that is unfair to both.


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