BATS Theatre, Wellington

20/03/2012 - 24/03/2012

Production Details

An over-achieving Head Girl, a sport-loving Jock, a Geek, and the Freak. Witness the ruthless cruelties and absurdities of school life as six ex-classmates turn up for their 10 year reunion. What could possibly go wrong…?

Loser – a comedy pitch-black and cake shaped from the acclaimed writer of Joseph and Mahina, Sunday Roast and The Mall.

Tue 20 Mar – Sat 24 Mar 6:30 pm 

Ticket Prices
Full $18.00
Concession $14.00  

Low Comedy

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 26th Mar 2012

The Whitireia Bachelor of Applied Arts Students’ production of Loser, a comedy about a school reunion, starts with a nice touch: audience members are given name tags with ‘Student’ written on them. From then on, however, it’s down hill all the way with this crude, crass cartoon comedy that makes mostHollywood teen movies and TV shows seem like Chekhov in comparison.

Loser does give everyone of the eleven-strong cast a chance to shine and for eight of them a chance to play multiple roles. They perform with high energy, broad characterisations, and excellent timing but the play, in which any sense of time, place, community, and language are sacrificed for thin black humour that I think is meant to shock, defeats them.  


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Couldn't see the play for the acting

Review by John Smythe 21st Mar 2012

It is a new initiative for Bats to host a 3rd year production by Whitirea Bachelor of Applied Arts students.  As I understand it, a number of projects were pitched to Bats by different groups of students and this production of Thomas Sainsbury’s Loser was the winner of that competitive process.

As an ‘off campus’ production venturing into the public arena, and competing with other Bats shows for an audience, it is agreed a review is in order. So …

If I had not known Loser was an excellent play – good enough to have graduated from the Aotea Centre’s Limelight Lounge in 2007 at the Herald Theatre in 2008 (click here for reviews) then get published by The Play Press – I might have judged it as crass and unsubtle from this production.

Sainsbury’s perceptive and darkly satirical comedy is as broad in its conception of archetypes as commedia dell’arte and it requires the same level of emotional truth to bring it off.

The focus of Loser is the 10-year reunion of Glenwood High’s year of ’95 but it is introduced by try-hard Liz recounting her failed attempts, at school, to get noticed / win sympathy / find friends in various bizarre ways. More than anything she aspires to be Clint’s girlfriend …

Liz Meade, then, seems to be the ‘loser’ of the title until we get to know the others better: reunion organiser Megan Okimoto, the control-freak whose personal life is secretly in tatters; ever-optimistic Ryan Wisener, who has planned a birthday party no-one will come to; driven Judith Crozier, the high-achieving head-girl-plus who burns out even before she leaves school; rapacious Clint O’Malley who has not yet discovered there is more to life than “wasting pussy” and “sinking piss”; mentally disturbed Phillip Henderson who is his own worst enemy when it comes to coping with bullies.

Added to these six are 30 other characters. In the original production, six actors covered the entire field. Here a cast of 11 delivers the toxic mix of personalities that inhabit our worst nightmares about what it takes to survive in an institution like school, let alone cope with a reunion. The play cleverly slips back and forth between school days and the reunion.

This is ‘truth + pain = comedy’ territory. The play’s cruel scenarios confront us with ourselves. Whether we see or recall ourselves as the victims or perpetrators, recognising it as true of human behaviour is crucial. The cringe factor vies with the truth factor to generate laughter … except at last night’s opening there was very little laughter. Why?

To put it bluntly, we couldn’t see the play for the acting. Every now and then we saw a real person in a real situation but mostly we saw actors acting their hearts out, doing their characters, commenting on them rather than being them.

The show moves fast and the ensemble work is exemplary in that everyone knows exactly where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do at any given moment. But it needs to breathe more; to find its moments of unavoidable truth and draw us into them. The last thing it needs is for anyone to look as if they are trying to be funny.

When Loser engages us, embarrasses us and compels our compassion for its characters in equal measure, it will work as the dark comedy it is. Hopefully this will be achieved over the next four performances and when it is, the laughs will come. 


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