Public Service Announcements INDIGNITY WAR

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

21/05/2019 - 25/05/2019

Production Details

Wellington’s favourite public satire is snapping back!

“Some pretty tough things are said and done in this devastating little show where all are game and few escape.” – Theatreview

In the Beehive a devastating plan is being concocted, one that would see the political careers of half the MPs turn to dust.

Who is responsible for the oncoming catastrophe? Can they be stopped and if not, who will face oblivion? Would Winston Peters even realise that half of his party is missing?

Wellington’s longest-running political satire series, Public Service Announcements, is back to take aim at the hypocrisy, idiocy, and mediocrity on both sides of the House.

BATS Theatre The Random Stage
21 – 25 May 2019
8pm – plus 9:30pm Friday & Saturday
Full Price $22
Concession Price $16
Group 6+ $15

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Tom Clarke - Simon Bridges, James Shaw, Mike Hosking, Mark Richardson
Hannah Clarke - Nikki Kaye, Chloe Swarbrick, Amanda Gillies, Suzie Ferguson
Hannah Kelly - Jacinda Ardern, Tracey Martin
Hayden Frost - David Seymour, Phil Twyford, Judith Collins, Tabuteau (Tabletop) Fletcher, Iain Lees-Galloway
Matthew Staijen-Leach - Winston Peters, Duncan Garner
Carrie Green - Marama Davidson, Shane Jones, Paula Bennett,
Alex Greig - Grant Robertson, Gareth Hughes, John Campbell, Paul Goldsmith 

Dramaturg – Carrie Green
Lighting Design/Operator – Jennifer Lal 

Theatre , Political satire ,

45 mins

Welcome robust political satire

Review by John Smythe 22nd May 2019

The never-ending dystopian apocalyptic blockbuster known as the New Zealand Parliament gets another Public Service Announcements outing on BATS Random stage in an iteration entitled Indignity War.

David Seymour has dropped a potential bombshell into the Members Bill ballot biscuit tin that aims to reduce the number of Members by half. Of course the idea that those currently in office would succumb to the ‘turkeys voting for an early Christmas’ syndrome is preposterous – or is it? Who can predict what Winston will do, or why?

But the bombshell bill is simply a MacGuffin: a device to motivate the action. Veteran PSA performer-turned-writer Thom Adams’ theatrical objective is simply to create an excuse for clusters of self-interested politicians to reveal their ‘true’ colours – in a topically satirical vein, of course.

Wigs and significantly-coloured ties, jackets, skirts and frocks are pressed into service to allow a robust cast of seven to switch betwixt and between 24 characters – politicians and media commentators – at speed, splendidly choreographed and paced for clear focus and understanding by director Isobel MacKinnon.

The actors sometimes go for impersonating caricatures and sometimes don’t but it’s almost always clear who is who and what they’re up to. The odd mystery person in a given party’s cluster is also valid commentary. As fit and ready to play as any top sports team, this cast is a dynamic ensemble.  

Hannah Clarke leads with a very credible Susie Fergusson (RNZ Morning Report) and goes on to give us Nikki Kaye, Chloe Swarbrick and Amanda Gillies. Alex Greig gets the John Campbell voice just right and also plays Grant Robertson, Gareth Hughes and Paul Goldsmith.

Matthew Staijen-Leach also nails Duncan Garner but his strangely lightweight Winston Peters lacks the NZ First leader’s signature combination of gruff hard edge and winning smile. (Script-wise, as I’ve noted before, I also crave the signature phrases, like, “At the end of the day the reality is…”)

This time it’s a crimson-frocked Hannah Kelly who powerfully channels the formidable-behind-party-doors Jacinda Ardern that Anya Tate-Manning manifested in the past two PSA shows. Kelly also bring a distinctly different persona to her Tracey Martin.

Hayden Frost keeps very busy as the ever-eager David Seymour, increasingly obsessed Phil Twyford, somnambulant Tabuteau (Tabletop) Fletcher and grovelling Iain Lees-Galloway before delivering a pointed cameo as Judith Collins. His Kiwi Build reverie as Twyford, complete with monopoly metaphor, is brilliant.

Marama Davidson and Paula Bennett are classily reprised by Carrie Green who then gives us a wickedly conceived Shane Jones. While his lines could also be more reflective of his signature circumlocutions, the double entendre-laced challenge to ‘The Foes of Shane Jones’ who are anti-Kiwi business is a satirically on-point crowd-pleaser.

Tom Clarke gets to do Simon Bridges this time, as well as James Shaw (with a wig more suited to Russell Norman, I think) plus Mike Hosking and Mark Richardson. His leading the nautical Nats chorus in a parody from Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMZ Pinafore is an early high point among many. As Shaw he also leads the Greens in a yoga session. But his climactic show-stopper, as Bridges, comes with his raunchy love affair with roads.

Top honours for production values goes to the judicious unleashing of Jacinda’s Political Capital with frightening lighting effects (by Jennifer Lal) and GoT-esque sound effects (uncredited), causing those in her aura to literally bend over backwards. It’s stunningly realised.

And how does it end? With a true-to-life Seymour twist and vintage Peters politics. As robust political satire, produced to a high standard, Indignity War is very welcome. 


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