Little White Men
08/03/2009 - 11/03/2009
08/11/2010 - 13/11/2010
VISCERAL, EXPERIMENTAL THEARE AT IT’S BEST
Transcending theatrical convention; it explodes off the stage in a literal riot of youth, oppression and revolution. Its Sleeping Dogs meets Brazil – its theatre like you’ve never seen before!
Fresh from their most recent success, The K’Road Show, The Outfit Theatre Company are building the reputation and momentum of an exiting new collective of theatre practitioners, who seem destined for infamy.
Set in a not too distant dystopian future, Little White Men explores a New Zealand overrun by bureaucracy, where even the police force has been privatised. A world where pencil pushers and suits have done away with the judiciary system – in favour of a simple ‘tick the box’ interview. Tick Box A for innocent, Box B for terrorist. Simple.
To describe the experience that is Little White Men is like describing the sensation of being punched in the head by a sonnet, or seduced by a brick. It’s witty pace and darkly-quirky humour belies a serious undercurrent of human drama. The seamless melding of multi-media and live action conventions will leave you wondering where the show ends and the real world begins.
There are only four shows – at least in a theatre, but this is more than a show – it’s a revolution, as you’re about to find out. Watch out for the little white men… they’re watching out for you.
Contains strong themes and offensive language.
Cross Street Studios (27 Cross St, Newton)
Sunday 8th – Wednesday 11th March
The Auckland Fringe runs from 27th February to 22nd March 2009.
For more Auckland Fringe information go to www.aucklandfringe.org.nz
8:00pm – 9:30pm
Tickets available through email@example.com
You’ll come out wanting a shower
Review by Venus Stephens 10th Nov 2010
Borrowing from the tone Herbert’s writing sets, the transition from page to stage is a noisy composition of mind-fucks. I’d liken it to watering granny’s prize dahlias with a fire-hose, on full.
Little White Men is a piece that attacks you with hearsay; it milks full value from dystopia. Tailored to fit, The Outfit ensemble don the guises of dystopian miscreants generously splashing terror politics, religious fanaticism, Sapphic innuendo and tabloid hype all over the Basement floor.
Video and audio arrives in blasts, courtesy of videographer and editor Corey Boland. Lighting designers Brad Gledhill and Michael Craven fuel the sensory overload with caustic flashes of light; the combined elements of light and sound mask the scene changes with finesse and keep the rhythm of the piece undulating. A cool mix of confusion set to choreography, aids the dirty glimpse into the cruelty of ‘humanity’.
Herbert cleverly manipulates the anti-hero to spin his tale in this ‘us and them’ fantasy. Ugliness is a canvas he has stretched for The Outfit crew to smear their hideous portrayals, each character a manifestation of the darker side of man.
The hate, hate relationships that unfold via Paul MacDiarmid as Oggy, Chris Tempest as Will and Peter Coates as Raglan serve as an insight to the food chain hierarchy that exists in the hell bound society of the much loathed Little White Men.
Agent Redding, played by Nicole Jorgensen, and Devlin Bishop as Mr White, force feed a one world view of ‘only the strongest survive’. The story tidily pairs duos off, on different tangents, each intent on preserving personal agendas in a malaise of heightened angst, then reconnecting abrasively under the cloud of circumstance.
Fresh-faced innocent Lauren, played by Holly Bradfield, is a bullet with butterfly wings; a barrage of curses are visited with gusto on any individual that does not meet her perception of being ‘cut from the right cloth’.
Elegantly slumming sirens Jacqui Nauman as Wilhemina and Sarah Graham as Jill saunter their way through the story, injecting black comic highlights like espresso shots. Awkward innocence is represented in bespectacled Elliot Yule as Matty, his tryst with a twist is txt speak perfect thanks to the energetic ramblings of his ‘date’ for the evening Brittney, a good time girl with a good heart played by Ema Barton, sumptuously swishy in red.
The costuming is a spray of colour and angular cuts, testament to the stylistic excellence of Designer Lindah Lepou. Creativity is in good stead in The Outfit camp, the ensemble maintains a solid reputation in my psyche as a refined troupe who communicate story cleverly in a rhythmic pulse that drugs you into its fold.
Go check out Little White Men; you’ll come out wanting a shower.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Paranoid conspiracy theory or fair warning?
Review by Sian Robertson 09th Mar 2009
A balaclava-wearing guerrilla guard with a metal detector stops you as you enter the door to Cross Street Studios and checks you for concealed weapons before warning that there will be strong themes and language.
A very basic set in a very basic, intimate space gives an authentic feel of rebel headquarters – it wouldn’t have worked as well in a ‘proper’ theatre. Seating is arranged around three sides of the stage area. The rudimentary lighting set-up means there are no house lights to dim, so you don’t get to sit anonymously in the dark and pretend to be just an audience ‘bystander’ – you’re part of it whether you like it or not (but don’t worry, there’s no audience participation beyond the guy at the door).
The set consists of a couple of large munitions containers and some cardboard boxes; four or five television screens broadcast disastrous world news – of the natural and manmade varieties. In between the news footage United Federation infomercial-style bulletins assure you that everything’s going to be okay, it’s going to get better, the UF will take care of you, oh and by the way, if you happen to know of any rebellious activity, you should report it, because rebelling is dangerous… accompanied by flashing subliminal messages such as ‘BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS’.
A small but fast-paced story with a big message, Little White Men is a pessimistic, perhaps alarmist, preview of what the not-so-distant future could hold for New Zealand and the world. However, though it is violent and scary, it’s not just pointlessly depressing. As one of the characters points out, it’s too late ‘now’: President Obama has been assassinated; the U.F. (‘the uffies’) have replaced national governments and their police forces, and have eliminated any dissenters; the thought police are always listening … But something could have been done back when it all started (i.e. 2009-ish).
Overall the script is naturalistic, immediate and well delivered by the actors, although there are a few brief parts in which it is a bit stiff, for example when Raglan (Francis Mountjoy) is responding to having his face rubbed in his own tragedy by his persecutor.
The Fringe Festival Programme says the show is 90 minutes long – it’s actually 60. It also claims it’s ‘darkly funny’. There’s a smidgeon of humour, for example the teenaged religious zealot (Holly Bradfield) who screams out bible quotes and generic condemnations of ‘faggots, whores and Muslims’ with a glassy look of conviction, then flirts coyly with the cute young rebel. But most of the play, while extreme, doesn’t come across as quite so ridiculous, so it hard to find it funny.
Some of the uncomfortable subject matter narrowly avoids being gratuitous, however there are places in the world where this kind of blanket big brother oppression is already going on, so is it so unthinkable that one day it could be New Zealand? You be the judge – paranoid conspiracy theory or worst-case warning?
As writer/director/actor Joel Herbert points out in the programme, there’s often a fine line between information and entertainment.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer