PARKER & SAINSBURY D O C ing
28/04/2017 - 06/05/2017
The geniuses behind 2016’s Camping bring you a new kitsch comedy.
Three D.O.C. workers and a plucky helicopter pilot have been given the task of delivering a brown spotted kiwi into the depths of the Marlborough Sounds. But when the helicopter crashes, and there appears to be no hope of rescue, our heroes revert to a savage game of survival of the fittest. It’s Kath and Kim meets The Lord of the Flies in the campest thriller you’ll ever see.
Starring Thomas Sainsbury, Brynley Stent & Chris Parker.
Wheelchair access available on request only
Talented and generous performers generate big smiles and light hearts
Review by Leigh Sykes 29th Apr 2017
The theatre is packed with well-known faces from all aspects of comedy and performing arts as anticipation for the show builds. Following on from a number of very successful outings by its creative team (such as last year’s Comedy Festival and this year’s Pride Festival show Camping), D.O.C.ing is described as a kitsch comedy, and gives us the same mix of verbal, visual and physical comedy that made their previous creations such joyfully funny experiences.
This show gives us a number of the hallmarks of other Parker and Sainsbury shows – witty and very funny dialogue; characters that are recognisable types; inventive physical comedy; very amusing retro wigs – all delivered with freshness and great energy.
As the lights go down, we hear the distinctive sound of a helicopter. As the lights come up, the clever physicality of the actors draws us immediately into the helicopter ride. The wonderfully retro wigs and costumes are immediately funny, but character traits and functions are also quickly and economically established.
Tonya (Brynley Stent) is the brisk and ‘take-charge’ leader of the D.O.C. expedition; Brogan (Thomas Sainsbury) is the swaggering alpha male; Leyton (Chris Parker) is the camp and physically-challenged follower and BJ (Ana Scotney) is the staunch urban-Māori pilot. With the initial situation set up, and plenty of laughs generated, the next stage of the action unfolds when the helicopter crashes.
Now in a life-or-death situation, the characters gradually display their true colours, in a series of scenes that start to unravel the established character types. The writing is always sharp, as fun is poked at a variety of ‘native wildlife’ targets and comedy is found in unexpected places – such as Brogan’s malapropisms, Tonya’s defence of her Homebrand emergency blankets and BJ’s inability to understand the dynamics of the group.
As sharp and witty as the writing is, it is the uniformly excellent performances that provide the lion’s share of the laughs for me: Chris Parker’s facial expressions, Thomas Sainsbury’s swagger, Brynley Stent’s authority and Ana Scotney’s staunchness combine to create many, many opportunities for big laughs.
I particularly enjoy the scene where the group plays a game that is started by Leyton (Parker) as light relief, but which quickly becomes a game of one-upmanship, as each of the other characters seeks to build pathos for themselves, and Leyton writhes in despair and disbelief at the unexpected change of mood.
Another highlight is the chase scene, with all of the performers showing their dexterity at stylised, physical comedy that builds, becomes a wonderfully choreographed dance sequence, then returns to the chase without missing a beat.
Both of these scenes are great examples of the generosity between the cast – each supporting the others to enhance the comedic whole. The show manages to skilfully weave together contrasting elements such as moments of great wit with physical grossness and laugh-out-loud comedy with character empathy. This show is just as well-crafted, funny, and skilfully performed as other Parker and Sainsbury shows that I have seen, and demonstrates that the team has plenty of fresh ideas and characters.
Their ability to build on successful aspects of previous shows, and to continue to develop them, means that we encounter something familiar and yet subtly different here. I am not the only one who leaves the show with a big smile and a light heart, and I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these talented and generous performers.
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