Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

04/05/2010 - 08/05/2010

BATS Theatre, Wellington

11/05/2010 - 08/05/2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Production Details

Jackson and Cameron to unite for The Legend of the Giant Face   

The two biggest movie tycoons, Peter Jackson (Natalie Medlock) and James Cameron (Dan Musgrove) are joining forces in what is predicted to be Hollywood’s most successful movie EVER.
To be called The Legend of the Giant Face, Jackson and Cameron have announced that the film will be cast and shot entirely in New Zealand, a decision that has already caused some of the biggest names in Auckland to call their agents and demand an audience with Jackson and Cameron.
See audition tapes from Craig Hall, Craig Parker, Danielle Cormack, Madeleine Sami, Robbie Magasiva, Antonia Prebble Oliver Driver and Harry McNaughton (all playing themselves). 
But Jackson and Cameron have ulterior motives. And when they do cast Shortland Street’s Harry Mcnaughton it’s not because of his acting skills!  
What price will Harry pay for this once-in-a-lifetime role?
Starring, written and produced by the killer-combo of Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove (writers of the smash-hit Christmas show Christ Almighty! and nominees for best newcomers for their 2009 International New Zealand Comedy Festival show A Song for the Ugly Kids )
Guest starring Shortland Street’s Fleur Saville & Harry McNaughton, THE GIANT FACE is an hour of crack up characters, off-the-wall banter and some painfully funny songs, delivered by some of the finest comic talent in NZ.
Catch this bumper cast and Jackson & Cameron in the flesh, 7pm from 4 May through to 8 May as part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.
“absurd brilliance wrapped in genius…” – Oliver Driver.
“a twinkling, silly and gorgeous hour of entertainment” – The Lumiere Reader.
“ferocious comic talents” – Theatreview.
“I loved it so much I wanted to lick their faces and have them poo in my mouth” -Madeleine Sami.
“Silly, energetic, honest entertainment… and above all very funny” – Michael Hurst.
Herald Theatre, 4th till the 8th of May – 7pm
$25/ $20/ $20 

Bats Theatre, 11th till the 15th of May – 9:30pm or phone (04) 802 4175

50 mins

Falls short of its potential

Review by John Smythe 13th May 2010

The premise is that Dan and Nat – Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock – are here to sing a few songs but budget constraints have obliged them to share the stage with a documentary about Harry McNaughton’s struggle to find work after the sudden axing of Shortland Street.

For a moment I think Tim Balme in his James K Baxter wig and beard from Horseplay has wandered onto the wrong stage – well struggled on lugging a large fax /scanner /phone – but it turns out this is Fleur Saville as Malcolm, “New Zealand’s number one agent”, whose “number one client” is Harry.  

Although her gruff Kiwi voice distorts some of the dialogue, Saville captures broad male characteristics to an impressive tee. McNaughton plays Harry relatively straight in these scenes and throughout, which is a blessing amid much Pythonesque extremity from the others.

It turns out Peter Jackson and James Cameron are combining on a mega-budget film entitled The Legend of the Giant Face and unemployed Harry has an audition for the lead role!

In a splendid caricature, Musgrove’s JC bounds about the stage waving the tip of his long bonding pigtail (a la Avatar’s Na’vi), full of energy, while Medlock’s badly plumped PJ, sporting an equally bad wig and beard, is morosely distraught at the prospect of his past youthful indiscretions destroying his career and/or marriage and/or credibility (the precise details elude me on account of Medlock’s mumbling in this role).  

The ever-creative JC convinces PJ that salvation lies in finding a New Zealand actor so desperate to play an actual lead in their film – a genuine piece of on-the-button satire here – that he will do anything … (I won’t say what exactly but it’s very extreme).

Via a video recording, an A-list of Auckland actors – namely Craig Hall, Craig Parker, Danielle Cormack, Madeleine Sami, Robbie Magasiva, Antonia Prebble, the also out-of-work Oliver Driver (not taking it well) and Harry McNaughton – are subjected to an embarrassing sequence of excruciating screen tests, which I suppose is the point. But it could have been a lot funnier if someone had taken the trouble to determine exactly what they were sending up here.

As it stands it might entertain an Auckland luvvies’ Christmas party but for the general public – if Medlock and Musgrove are actually interested in engaging them (and that’s a significant ‘if’) – it reeks of esoteric in-jokes and is therefore alienating, a lost opportunity and a waste of very good talent.

Dan and Nat get stage time again to sing an upbeat version of Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit ‘Luka’, eschewing the poignant tale of an abused boy from a highrise tenement to add extra verses and parade an impressive array of accents, including broad Kiwi and Chinese (Dan) and Cockney, American and posh English (Nat). And their musicality is excellent.

Back in Mal’s office Harry finds he’s been offered the lead in TLOTGF but a key detail in the contract makes him balk at signing, to PJ’s further distress.

Quite why Sir Peter Jackson is portrayed as nothing more than a big fat sook when he offers so many genuine characteristics worthy of send-up eludes me. Even more bewildering is English-born, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School-trained Medlock’s total inability to master a straight-forward Kiwi accent (despite her facility with other accents). Why did she give herself the role if it was beyond her capability?*

It’s now we discover that Harry’s incentive to make big money goes beyond self-interest. (Spoiler warning) There has been talk of needing money for ‘the operation’ and it turns out his sisters are Siamese twins, joined back-to-back: a skippingly funny cameo from Saville and Medlock. (warning ends)

As his mother (Musgrove in Monty Python drag mode) presides over a sponge cake – and on the night I saw it, makes the other actors corpse (yawn) – Harry wrestles with his dilemma. In a bridging scene, allowing for costume changes off-stage, he memorably invokes Stanley Kowalski, presumably to display his thespian preference (not to mention his pecs).

The next musical interlude begins with Nat’s ‘Love Hurts’ song (they try hard to do spots that are relevant to Harry’s unfolding story), followed – with Dan – by a Flight of the Conchords-style number that wittily explores the consequences of calling babies by weird names. While it has nothing to with anything, it is very funny, despite the inclusion of some creaky old puns.

Saville completes her trinity of astutely observed and very different characters as a would-be auditionee for a Big Pen commercial, alongside Medlock’s Woman-who-has-no-tongue (except when she does) and McNaughton’s increasingly desperate Harry, who just knows he is better than this.

While Medlock offers a variation, here, on her headless aspiring model in A Song for the Ugly Kids, Musgrove recycles his white-blonde Asian called Brendan and his enormous pen from the same show, to become the director – and hog the screen in the final wacky result.

A ‘will he or won’t he sign the contract?’ cliff-hanger takes us to Nat and Dan’s final song, about a Lady Pirate who stops at nothing to achieve her dreams…

Enter Harry as a Melanie Lynskey lookalike toting a brick in a stocking … And the punchline comes in Oliver Driver’s ‘SunTube’ on-line interview with Harry, flanked by PJ and JC. It won’t be giving too much away to say the show proves that the road to stardom can be morally corrupt.

If only Medlock and Musgrove, the ‘above the title’ instigators of this project, had also engaged the services of an astute dramaturg and director, The Giant Face might have met its potential. Instead, in this unnecessarily shabby presentation (given the calibre of the talent involved), the alchemy that could have brought such ingredients together in a winning way fails to fire as it should.
– – – – – – – – – –
Put it this way: would any NZ actor who had lived and trained fulltime in England expect to pursue a credible career in Britain without mastering a comprehensive range of British accents and dialects? Of course we have the great advantage of having grown up with them, broadcast daily on the telly (likewise American accents). As a wise man once said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.”  
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Has the casual air of a varsity show

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 13th May 2010

The Giant Face is in-jokey, smart and roughly executed.

Will former Shortland Street star, Harry McNaughton, sell his soul (and his Siamese twin sisters have their separation operation) to get the leading role in a movie, The Legend of the Giant Face, to be directed by none other than Sir Peter Jackson and James Cameron?

Some well-known Auckland actors (among them Oliver Driver, Madeleine Sami, Craigs Hall and Parker) audition on screen for the main role but Sir Peter needs some dastardly work done and he needs a desperate, out-of-work, actor to do it. Where better to look than among the canned of Shortland Street? 

The Giant Face has the casual air of a varsity show about it with a few modern trimmings thrown in on screen such as an excellent spoof of a TV ad. The audition scenes are fun, particularly Oliver Driver’s.

However, the show seems to rely too much on simply hoping that a reference to something or someone will somehow raise a laugh or be satirical.


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Their most impressive work to date

Review by Karyn Cushen 05th May 2010

The Giant Face is the latest offering from Auckland-based comic-duo Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove, writers of Christ Almighty and A Song for the Ugly Kids, and it is well deserving of your time, attention and, most importantly, your hard-earned cash.

The Giant Face is a hypothetical ultra-big-budget-watch-out-Hollywood film written and directed collaboratively by Peter Jackson and James Cameron.  Massive.  However, due to a few indiscretions in the eighties Jackson is forced to cast the most desperate actor in the world as its lead.  Cue Harry McNaughton.

With the cancellation of New Zealand’s longest running soap opera Shortland Street, McNaughton is out of work, out of cash and at the mercy of his sexually frustrated, homophobic agent (Fleur Saville). 

With hopelessness on his side he beats Antonia Prebble, Craig Hall, Craig Parker, Madeleine Sami, Danielle Cormack, Robbie Magasiva and even the recently unemployed Oliver Driver to secure the lead role, but like everything it comes at a cost.

This amazing, yet incredulous, storyline is jam-packed with hilarious pop culture references, Kimya Dawson-esque musical interludes and the acting, especially the caricature of Peter Jackson, is nothing short of spectacular. 

The Giant Face is the most impressive work from Medlock and Musgrove to date and it proves, once again, that satire is alive and well in New Zealand. Thank god.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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