No More Dancing in the Good Room

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

28/04/2015 - 02/05/2015

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

05/05/2015 - 09/05/2015

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

03/02/2016 - 13/02/2016

Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College), 42 Lucknow Road, Havelock North

14/10/2016 - 14/10/2016

Suter Theatre, Nelson

20/10/2016 - 21/10/2016

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016

NZ International Comedy Festival 2015

Nelson Arts Festival 2016

Production Details



Chris Parker (Snort and Tighty Whiteys) is putting on one of his silly little shows.

If it were 1999, he would be performing it in Mum’s “Good Room”, but she said his limbs are getting too long and he doesn’t have enough control over them. In fact, she’s banned him from dancing in the house altogether.

No More Dancing in the Good Room is the autobiographical account of a young gay boy growing up in a liberal supportive family.

Wellington: Tue 28 April – Sat 2 May 2015, 8pm

The Propeller Stage at BATS Theatre, Wellington

Tickets:
Adults $20.00
Conc. $15.00
Groups 6+ $14.00* service fees may apply
Bookings: 04 802 4175

Auckland: Tue 5 – Sat 9 May 2015, 7.15pm
The Basement Studio, Auckland
Tickets:
Adults $20.00 | Conc. $15.00
Groups 6+ $14.00* service fees may apply
Bookings:  0508 iTicket (484 253)

2016

Q THEATRE Q Loft
Start date: Wednesday Feb 3 2016
End date: Saturday Feb 13 2016
Show times: 6.30pm (No shows from 6 to 8 Feb)
50mins (No interval)
Ticket price: $25-$39 (Service fees apply)

“…beautiful, tender, superbly choreographed, and a showcase of Chris Parker’s boundless exuberance.” – James Wenley, Theatrescenes, Metro magazine

New Zealand International Comedy Festival’s Best Newcomer Award 2015

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016
The Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College)
Fri Oct 14th:  7:30
Adult:  $35
Concession:  $29
BUY TICKETS

Nelson Arts Festival 2016
Suter Theatre, Nelson
Thu 20 & Fri 21 Oct, 8pm
55 mins, no interval
SOLD OUT



Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,


1 hour

Comedy and drama conveyed to perfection

Review by Janet Whittington 21st Oct 2016

One-actor shows can be a bit of a risk. This show has all the hallmarks of exactly that – but only initially. I do wonder if this initial time is really the audience time required to settle into a theme and have it replace the self-life inside with the other on stage.  Whatever the reason, the show has a steady trajectory into a painfully poignant climax and delightful vivacious finale.  

This is a coming-of-age story that doesn’t finish in puberty, but rather as a fully functioning adult, and is therefore more satisfying for an adult audience to watch. It is a mixed media, drama/ dance theatre show with minimal props inventively used with comic intent.   

We settle into the pace for a while, with humour inviting us into the painful emotions of a young boy following his inner ballet passions in a home with a room of cramped physical boundaries, with disastrous material and emotional consequences.  The first emotional hook takes me by surprise.  His waggish caricature of his mother (poor woman) is familiar and funny. I am still cringing from his re-enactments of her behaviour. 

The tearjerker comes without warning as his rendition of the big reveal delivers without humour, in two simple sentences.  Timing is the key for comedy and drama. Chris Parker, and his co-writer and director Jo Randerson, convey both to perfection. It is also good that they know not to let an audience exit into the foyer in tears. 

Hence, the finale of Parker dancing in conjunction with a video of himself as a boy is uplifting and liberating. Symbolising re-birth, Parker throws himself repeatedly through a makeshift curtain, face beaming with exhilaration, taking the audience to new heights of joy with him each time. The audience rise to their feet at curtain call, we are so relieved and delighted with him. I also like watching the difference in balletic skill level between the video of the young boy and Parker now full grown. 

It takes true talent to write this. Parker and Randerson could be a duo to watch if they are able to continue at this level of writing.  The importance of the music choice also deserves a mention. The pieces are well-chosen to reflect a time (Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach), or an emotion (Riverdance). 

No More Dancing in the Good Room is easily one of the most emotional shows I have attended at this year’s Nelson Arts Festival.  

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Raw, uplifting power

Review by Jenny Wake 15th Oct 2016

I’ve seen some wonderful shows during the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival. No More Dancing in the Good Room is the one that made me cry.  

It seems hardly necessary to mention what the show is about. The title so aptly captures its essence – the boy who is lord of the dance, the sitting room with heritage furniture and things that mustn’t be touched, the well-meaning parents who, in guiding young Christopher to social conformity, crush his identity and stifle his soul.

Chris Parker’s retelling of his own childhood story is a riot of dance, comedy and caricature. His dancing is unpolished, beautiful and grotesque, his performance joyous and full of pain.

This is a deeply personal, awkward and uncomfortable story that’s as hard to tell as a long-hidden, shameful secret. At first he creeps around the stage ghost-like, under a shroud, asking us not to see him. He starts to dance but comes up with all sorts of reasons not to proceed – there’s supposed to be a second actor, it’s not going right, he can’t do it.

But Chris/Christopher’s limbs, head and torso are each independently wilful and the impulse to dance is too strong. We’re treated to a gloriously wild mash-up of ballet, Irish dance, burlesque and who-knows-what other dance forms. It’s a tour de force.

Just as entertaining is his juggling of multiple characters – he plays young Christopher, present-day Chris and both his parents, poking fun at each. His portrayal of his mum is a highlight, and although highly comedic it’s never unsympathetic. His struggle is with the social mores his parents abide by, mores that drive Christopher to keep his true nature under wraps, before he’s barely aware of his own sexual identity.

I tear up when an adolescent Christopher tells his mum he doesn’t want to dance anymore. He’s starting a new school; he wants to, as his dad says, put his best foot forward. His self-loathing and pain are palpable and excruciating to witness. 

The simple, effective set, all white except for the precious objet d’art that is the cold heart of the sitting room (and represents a second shameful secret of Christopher’s childhood), provides multiple surfaces for some well-chosen home videos. The footage serves as a reminder that the characters, despite their absurdities, represent a real family, a real boy. Whether he‘s the boy Chris was, the boy still inside him or some other boy with his whole life ahead of him, I find myself willing the boy in the movie the joy of being allowed to dance forever.

It is immensely moving when a mature Chris finally sets himself free and dances an exuberant finale. I’m crying again. The full-house audience rises en masse to give Chris a standing ovation in response to the raw, uplifting power of his performance. Dance on, Chris Parker. Bravo!

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Dancer’s tale light on its feet

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 05th Feb 2016

Chris Parker achieves a fine balance between poignancy and humour in his autobiographical tale about a boy’s passion for dance and his journey of self-discovery.  

There are faint echoes of Billy Elliot, but the grim realism of a North England mining town is replaced by a solidly liberal home in suburban Christchurch.

It is in the dancing that the story really comes to life, as gawky, painfully earnest movements slowly evolve into a self-choreographed epic in which humour softens the emotional torment of a boy’s struggle to express feelings he cannot comprehend. [More

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Intimately fabulous

Review by Adam Naughton 21st May 2015

[APOLOGY: This review somehow did not get published when it was submitted on 6 May.  Here it is now.  – ED] 

Growing up as kids we become familiar with spaces in the house e.g. the space to sit at the table and eat properly, the outside space to run around and do crazy stuff (like break windows and tackle each other), the space for reading and sleeping … and the space with valuable stuff in it where you should be careful and sensible.

In No More Dancing in the Good Room, Chris Parker maps out these spaces in a makeshift family home, paying careful attention to suitable and unsuitable household behaviour. Unfortunately for a young Parker, the family home didn’t give him the stage he needed to unleash his flair-filled dancing.

After a quietly mysterious beginning and some teasing of the audience, a Celtic melody arises and Parker gives us a taste of those sweet moves he has tucked away in a built-for-ballet body. We get introduced to the Parker family: nice and neat Mum, who politely instructs Parker on house rules; Dad, the friendly kiwi bloke who knows how to behave appropriately without causing a fuss!

Parker plays both Mum and Dad with splendid characterisation, especially the effeminate gestures and raised eyebrows of Mum. “There’s a time and a place” is a key theme that Parker discusses with playful exuberance, fighting his dancing desire over appropriate household discipline.

Reminiscent of Jim Carey imitations, overt exclamations and full-bodied attack, Parker pulls off satisfying impersonations. The narrative follows a casual dialogue, repeating sayings and applying clean accent for comedic effect. Parker has-well practiced timing with full-stop clarity that for the most part keeps things buzzing. The costumes provide Parker opportunity for his personality to shine and snappy cross-characterisations.  

The music is the source of inspiration for unleashing Parker’s inner Peter Pan. He transforms when an upbeat Riverdance track or moody ballad comes on and it’s all ‘shazzam’ and showbiz with fiery eyes, electric limbs. There are moments of subtle movements, but for the most part the dancing is full on Broadway Ballet and a flash or two.

The use of projection brings childhood memories to life, taking the audience back in time to our own childhoods, where untouched ambition bubbled and dancing couldn’t be contained.  

It’s a vulnerable act to share ones childhood and family with strangers, not least for a one-man comedy show, however – with Jo Randerson as his director – Parker shares his story with honesty and simplicity. He does so without ridiculing himself or his family, stripping back the silliness of middle class domesticity and revealing a youthful spirit brought up in a loving home.  

This intimately fabulous show packs a punch, bringing more than just gags and laughs. No More Dancing in the Good Room tells a refreshing story of a young boy with a passion that can’t be dismantled, despite the risk of dismantling home decor. 

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Five Stars Plus

Review by Matt Baker 08th May 2015

Five star reviews are littered throughout festivals and the New Zealand International Comedy Festival is no different, and without taking anything away from many of these deserved acts, there’s a problem that arises when witnessing a show like Chris Parker’s No More Dancing in the Good Room. What happens when a show clearly exceeds it’s five star counterparts with its own unique perspective? Sometimes a show is funny, sometimes a show is funny and moving, and sometimes, just sometimes, a show is funny, moving, and cathartically powerful. Chris Parker presents the latter. The show is billed as as Parker “putting on one of his silly little shows”, but nothing could be further from the truth. While hilarious physical comedy is abound in The Basement studio, there is nothing silly or little about this show by the end. [More]

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A cyclone of styles, words, phrases and mood

Review by Jo Blick 29th Apr 2015

I was pretty sure I knew what to expect from Chris Parker’s one man show No More Dancing in the Good Room. After all, it’s billed as an “autobiographical account of a young gay boy growing up in a liberal family.” That stuff’s practically a Comedy Festival cliché these days, isn’t it? A bit of stand-up, some glitter, maybe a couple of show tunes. A low-budget version of Graham Norton without the celebrities and with more self-loathing.  

That’s what I was expecting … and I was completely wrong.

What we are presented with instead is a hugely entertaining piece of theatre that is by turns hilarious, strange, physically exuberant and ultimately moving.  

No More Dancing in the Good Room lays out its wares very early on. The show opens with Parker alternatively ambling then stalking around the stage, a sheet over his head echoing the sheets over the large pieces of furniture that make up the set. This is the Good Room – the place where Parker does his “little dances for his friends”, as his Mother puts it. Only they’re not little dances.  Young Parker’s creative offerings are so much grander than that, combining the worst bits of ‘Lord of the Dance’ with something that can only be described as ‘The Dying Stag’, fake antlers and all.

Parker’s parents are supportive but concerned. Mrs Parker is worried about the carpets in the good room – “I’m not kicking you out … Drinks on a coaster!” – while Mr Parker is worried about how all this looks: “Time and a place … How are you presenting yourself?”  Parker takes this on board before finally coming to terms with himself, in his own time. 

Chris Parker’s physicality – part graceful, part paper-man in the wind – perfectly conveys the ambition of the young Parker, while also keeping the audience in stitches as he looses off one crazy dance move after another. His performance is a cyclone of different styles, repetition of words and phrases, and sudden shifts of mood while the clever use of old family film footage amplifies the theatricality and also provides a marvellous interactive set piece for an ending. 

Chris Parker and director Jo Randerson have crafted a memorable show that may occasionally stretch the limits of how funny bad dancing can be but also delivers plenty of laughs, moments of beauty and a tear in the eye at the end. A show for anyone who’s ever put on a show in ‘the good room’ or struggled with being themselves.

Comments

Eli Matthewson April 30th, 2015

That first paragraph is seriously offensive, I have to agree... It's along the same lines as going to see a female comedian and thinking "here come the period jokes"!

1. It's a stereotype that doesn't exist here. I don't know any New Zealand comedian that fits that description. I've never seen a show like that. (Maybe it's me! Maybe I've been blacking out during my show and chucking glitter and singing show tunes...)

2. That doesnt even sound like a bad show! I'd hate to think of some young up and comer right now throwing his glitter away and tearing up his sheet music because he's being told that the things he loves and wants to share with an audience are "cliche".

Apart from that this is a great review, and Chris's show is a triumph. 

Graham Norton April 30th, 2015

When has my show ever had show tunes or glitter?

Your associations of gayness in a liberal family, which for some reason you link to self-loathing (?!), reveal more about you than anything else. What strange associations you have... All the better to cliche me?

Joseph Moore April 29th, 2015

I reckon we should wait until we can count NZ's out comedians on more than one hand before we start calling being gay a "cliche". Only person guilty of cliche is the one then immediately associating that with "glitter and showtunes"... (Glad to hear the show is great though, lookinf forward to it!)

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