Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

21/10/2014 - 25/10/2014

Production Details

Doris sees productivity. John sees otherwise. 

When he stumbles across a town bathed in happiness, John seeks to find the truth behind the mask. What he discovers is not what he expected… 

It’s a race to find friends and challenge enemies, in this tale of façades and pleasantries. 

From the team that brought you ‘VICE’ earlier this year, comes a story of super friendly proportions. How quick can you guess what’s going on behind the smiles? 

Dates & Times: 21 – 25 October, 7pm  
Venue:  Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD
Prices:  Adult $22, Conc $18
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Icarian Heights

Review by Matt Baker 23rd Oct 2014

“Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics” is not the definition I would use to describe Perfect Place. While there are no new stories under the sun, Colin Garlick’s complete lack of an attempt to re-imagine, or at the very least thinly veil, one iota of the stories he has haphazardly drafted onto the page is frankly insulting, with the “stranger in a new world” stumbling over the “freedom of choice” tied together with a borderline plagiarised Tyler Durden-Mark Renton monologue.

In what I presume was an attempt to compensate the barrenness of Garlick’s script, As Expected have over-loaded the creative team with not only two directors, but a dramaturg. Regardless, Lauren Gibson and Zinzan Selwyn only have so much with which to work, and I’m at a loss to Katy Maudlin’s contribution. [More]


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Middle-of-the-road immersion

Review by Nik Smythe 22nd Oct 2014

The creepily twee experience of Perfect Place begins with an odd young chap distributing marshmallows at the base of the stairs to munch on the way up. The blandly sweet taste blends delightfully with the remarkable multi-pastel-toned cardboard trees we file through to reach the stage. 

It’s not entirely certain or important where Katrina Wesseling’s ‘installation design’ ends and John Kaminski’s equally if not even more impressively pastel set begins. 

Said set comprises the facades of two pastel cottages and a more important looking pastel town-hall sort of building, set about with pastel trees and butterflies all upon an enviably even-cropped Astroturf lawn. 

The comparisons to past enforced-Utopian classics are many and evidently welcome; their own promotional postcard namechecks Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands and The Truman Show.  Add to that The Prisoner, Stepford Wives, Demolition Man, Pleasantville and Audrey’s song ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ from Little Shop of Horrors, and so on. 

The story begins with a cheery tannoy-system announcement drawing further parallels with M*A*S*H, Hi-De-Hi and This is Jinsy, welcoming us to another pastel-perfect morning in pervasively pastel Perfect Place.  Pastel-clad model residents Jules (Greta Gregory) and Charles (Eli Matthewson) cheerily greet eachother within the permitted boundaries of their heavily regulated social rules, where everyone has a specified quota of daily hugs and tickles. 

When lost traveller John (Taylor Hall) arrives in earth-toned pants and a red anorak, Charles and Jules are beside themselves with anxious uncertainty.  Fortunately town regulator Ernest (Fasitua Amosa) has the prescriptive fortitude to bring John straight to the village’s beloved founder and governor, Doris (Amanda Tito), who quickly steers John towards his inevitable and requisite assimilation. 

The goal is not joy or happiness as too much of a good thing is deemed unproductive; instead the catchword is ‘contentment’, the ideal middle-ground between misery and ecstasy – as explained in Ernest’s enlightening daily regulation seminars.  The relentless pastels perfectly illustrate this policy: not too dull, not too bright.  However, it doesn’t take a qualified psychologist to see that things are really not all right in paradise…

Fraser Mildon’s predominately pastel costumes dutifully conform to the dictates of fellow designers Kaminski and Wesseling’s insipid example. Did I mention everything’s pastel? 

Written by Colin Garlick with the company, with guidance from dramaturg Katy Maudlin, the script contains plenty of clever exchanges, one-liners and appealingly articulated alliterations as we are enlightened in the sanitised precision of life in Perfect Place.  Suspension of disbelief is mandatory as directors Lauren Gibson and Zinzan Selwyn maintain a highly exaggerated tone throughout the piece, to a degree that it feels like it would take very little to convert to a show for children. 

Narrative-wise, while I can’t help feeling it could be either more hilarious or more edgy, or both… it’s as though the appropriately named ‘ As Expected’ production team themselves took this whole middle-of-the-road concept to heart.  The deliberately immersive entrance definitely helps to get us onside at the outset of what turns out to be a well-designed, skilfully performed, adequately entertaining, fairly predictable play.


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