BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce + livestream on Facebook, Wellington
29/08/2020 - 29/08/2020
Watch the livestream on Facebook or come see the show in person!
First in, first served – cash koha on arrival to the theatre.
Comedy. Thrills. Chaos. Delight.
Being Slightly Isolated in a tower has never felt so relevant!
Theatrical magic, wicked pop songs & explosive wit is combined to create a delightful romp through a twisted classic tale.
As a part of Theatre Live Online, A Slightly Isolated Dog has created this live & virtual performance with Freya Daly Sadgrove.
Join us for this chaotic party for a guaranteed good time at BATS or online @
The live show will last about 20 minutes and is koha in person or Koha on our Boosted page.
The online feeds will only be available on 29 August 2020 (from 7:50pm).
(Plans are afoot to make an Omnibus version of all three Theatre Line Online shows available as a one-off showing – TBC.)
BATS Theatre, Random Stage
29 August 2020
First in, first served – cash koha on arrival to the theatre
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.
Captures the zeitgeist of this time
Review by John Smythe 30th Aug 2020
I choose the livestream option for witnessing this one-off performance of Rapunzel at BATS in order to add to Theatreview’s coverage of digitally-delivered theatre. Also the inability to secure a booking to watch it live – it’s first come first served with capacity limited to 57 – hits me with FOMO, given there is no indication it will remain available online after the livestream.*
Tuning in 10 minutes ahead of the start time, to be sure my Chromecast connections are working, allows me to eavesdrop on the trademark chit-chat with which the trimmed-down Slightly Isolated Dog actors – very famous, very French and reduced to just three this time – welcomes their audience, as they trickle into the Random Stage space to take their physically-distanced seats. It’s audio only with the camera trained on a tantalising closeup of props: suitcases brimming with a blonde wig, a bejewelled crown, yellow gloves …
Such conversation-starters as, “How did you get through Lockdown?”, “What has been making you happy over this time?” and the poignant, “I wish I could give you a hug,” spark the sometimes risqué repartee. And Chromecast’s auto-generated captions add extra entertainment value as they try to capture the heavy French accents – e.g. “Everyone needs to have a hobby” becomes “Everyone needs to Beyonce” and the best thing about Level Two is, “we don’t have to feel an audience. This is a full house.”
Auckland’s Level Three has kept some regular actors away, so this time stalwarts Susie Berry (Lili) and Andrew Paterson (Julie) are joined by Carrie Green (Mona). The classical Rapunzel tale has been scripted by Freya Daly Sadgrove and developed with A Slightly Isolated Dog, directed by Leo Gene Peters
The premise of a couple (Lili and Mona) desperately wanting a baby involves a visit to “Ye Olde Fertility Clinic” and leads to their opting for adoption. Audience members (unseen in the livestream) represent the catalogue of candidates, introduced by Julie, and amusing interactions ensue. In the end the would-be parents opt for prayer and are rewarded with an immaculate conception.
The pregnant wife craves rapunzel: a kale-like leafy green that can only be found in the garden of a Witch, i.e. “A woman of a certain age who is still single.” Mona’s knee-jerk call to “Burn the witch!” and Julie’s stirring up of the angry mob are questioned by the wife who nevertheless insists Mona must fetch her the rapunzel or she will die.
Clever references to the constraints of Lockdown and the Trans Tasman Bubble – which has separated Lili from the love of her life, Lucille – and the failure of the community to acknowledge let alone shop for the immunocompromised Witch (Julie), lead to Greg, the husband, accepting the Faustian bargain to take the kale in exchange for their first-born.
The birth itself is glossed over. The wife (unnamed) is surprised to learn of the deal between Greg and the Witch but accepts it with a shrug (really?) – and because the Witch loves the daughter so much, she names her Rapunzel, doesn’t cut her hair and keeps her in a tower “so she will stay with her forever.” This is a cautionary tale, then, about the consequences of marginalising people we regard as ‘other’.
The tower is rolled out over the stage and commentary about what Rapunzel does in her own personal Lockdown cleverly refers back to activities audience members have mentioned in the pre-show chit-chat. Given Carrie Green’s well-known skills as a singer, it’s a bit of a shame that Rapunzel’s favourite song, asked for from an audience member, turns out to be ‘Happy Birthday’ – but the cast honours the offer, the passing Prince (Julie) hears it and calls for her to let down her hair – but it breaks under his weight.
At this point livestream viewers are treated to the illusion, created by the camera-angle, of the Prince climbing up the tower. But the Prince and Rapunzel’s instant mutual love and consummation of same is blocked from our view by a shocked Lili, although the importance of protection is emphasised. Nevertheless their copious copulation has the inevitable result, the Witch banishes Rapunzel to the dark and echoing wilderness – to bring her twins up wild – and gives the Prince not so much his comeuppance as his falldownance – enhanced once more for the livestream audience by a clever camera angle.
Of course the Prince and Rapunzel are reunited, thanks to her song, and tears of joy prove efficacious. Lili’s compassion for the now lonely-again Witch leads to calls for the audience to recall what made them happy in Lockdown – and here the live audience has the advantage, being able to see and hear them.
As with their much-travelled Jekyll & Hyde and Don Juan, A Slightly Isolated Dog’s contemporary take on the classic Rapunzel tale captures the zeitgeist of this time. It intrigues me how these shows seem joyously unsubtle in their presentation while subtly alerting our collective consciousness to pertinent personal and community values.
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*As I understand it, difficulties with negotiating screening rights for actors and writers stage work have impeded the vision Paolo Rotondo had for his Theatre Live Online initiative. The first was Goldfish Girl in Christchurch and next to come is Call it a Night in Auckland (delayed by their reversion to level Three).
You may or may not still find Rapunzel online here. If so, the audio starts at about 2:20 and the actual play begins at around 12:30.
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