BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
04/12/2018 - 15/12/2018
Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
01/12/2017 - 20/12/2017
HE KNOWS YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY…
He’s made his list and checked it twice, but this year… no one’s been nice. In the little town of Auckland, naughtiness has taken over and Santa’s ready to take the law into his own hands. Which list are you on? Did you buy caged eggs? Park in a disabled parking spot? Record a private conversation with an employee without their knowledge or consent? Then you better watch out. Because Santa Claus is coming to The Basement, and it’s either good tidings, or a total Chrismassacre.
A Slightly Isolated Dog (Don Juan, Jekyll and Hyde) bring their raucous, sexy signature style to The Basement’s annual chaotic Christmas celebration.
Starring a killer core cast of Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry, as well as a celebrity guest each night including Urzila Carlson, Antonia Prebble, Chlöe Swarbrick, Miriama Kamo, Jesse Griffin and more to be announced.
30 Nov – 20 Dec 2017
(& 9pm some nights)
Irreverent and subversive, The Basement Christmas Show has evolved from a low-key fundraiser to one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings, described in 2016 by the New Zealand Herald as
“as much of an Auckland holiday season staple as Franklin Rd Lights and the Santa Parade”.
As the theatre’s only fundraiser, all profits from our Christmas show go into our development programmes for artists, so audience members get the warm Christmas fuzzies, as well as a stonking great night out!
Select “Santa Upgrade” when booking to give Basement Theatre a gift this Christmas and get guaranteed best seats in the house (limited available per night).
Select “Elf Upgrade” when booking to get a Little Island Icecream at interval and give Basement Theatre a gift this Christmas (limited available per night).
Or select “Reindeer Upgrade” just to give Basement Theatre some extra love this Christmas.
Add 6 or more Adult tickets to your cart to the one show, click to apply discount and pay only $33 each. Not applicable on any Upgrade tickets. Christmas party functions are available for large groups 15+, please enquire at: firstname.lastname@example.org
He’s made his list and checked it twice, but the people who dwell in the little town of Wellington have been very very naughty.
“Absurd and so much fun.” – Theatreview
He’s made his list and checked it twice, but the people who dwell in the little town of Wellington have been very very naughty. Santa is outraged and ready to take the law into his own hands. Which list are you on?
Did you buy caged eggs?
Finish your flatmates milk and not replace it?
Refuse to give up your seat on the bus for someone who really needed it?
Then you better watch out. Because Santa Claus is coming to BATS, and it could be a total Xmassacre.
A Slightly Isolated Dog (Don Juan, Jekyll and Hyde) serve up their signature raucous, sexy style to celebrate everyone’s favourite Christmas icon: Santa Claus himself. Starring a killer cast of performers and directed by Leo Gene Peters.
Interested in booking the show for your staff Christmas shindig? Contact email@example.com for more information.
BATS Theatre: The Random Stage
4 – 15 December 2018
6pm & 8:45pm
6pm performances run for 60 minutes
8:45pm performances run for 80 minutes with an interval
Full Price $25
Concession Price $18
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.
Susie Berry: Lily
Andrew Paterson: Julie
Jonathan Price: Phillipe
Jack Buchanan: Bastien
Leo Gene Peters: Director
Angela Green: Producer
Marshall Rankin: Operator
Brianne Kerr: Publicist
The retrospective backwash dilutes the entertainment value
Review by John Smythe 05th Dec 2018
Christmas is a time for catching up with old friends – and that’s how some will feel about seeing A Slightly Isolated Dog, in their “very sexy French theatre company” personae, strut their stuff once more – in Santa Claus at BATS.* Others, like me this time round, might think the sexy French shtick, which seemed like a very good idea for Don Juan and felt rather odd with Jekyll & Hyde, is coasting on auto-pilot and has little to do with the matter at hand.
But hey, everyone has gathered to have fun because it’s almost Christmas, darlings, when “everything is always perfect; everyone gets what they want; nothing bad ever happens!” With a set up like that, what can possibly spoil the celebration? Read on …
Lily (Susie Berry), Julie (Andrew Paterson), Phillipe (Jonathan Price) and Bastien (Jack Buchanan) do a great job of making us all feel welcome, distributing festive headwear, introducing members of the audience, teasing out tidbits of information, setting up relationships and themes …
‘Santa’ is mask made from more than one Santa hat, and all the actors and some audience members get to role-play the jolly old figment of myth and legend.
Sound and lighting operator Marshall Rankin is the fifth ‘cast’ member with perfectly timed effects. And when designated Reindeer willingly play their sleigh-pulling role, a cleverly created blizzard increases the drama – while obliterating the lyrics of the song the cast sings loud and strong on mic – and sets the tone for more crazy madness to come.
There are also touching moments, like where Santa shows his compassionate side. And of course there is the giving of gifts, generously shared with the packed opening show house (although using the mics for the shy and soft-voiced people wouldn’t go amiss).
It is through these devices that a more comprehensive picture of the Christmas experience emerges, adding more realistic light, shade and texture to the simplistic promise of joyous perfection – and enriching the entertainment factor.
Then there are the unsettling moments when things go dark in more ways than one. Is it less-than-perfect human behaviour that brings out Santa’s less-than-jolly side or does he have an evil underbelly? Do we need to have seen the Bad Santa movies (I haven’t) to get what’s happening here? The loose and somewhat chaotic nature of the action, which certainly adds to the festive fun, is not at all conducive to tracking the causal chain for what unfolds let alone contemplating any subtly embedded messages. In the moment, we’re swept along by the theatricality …
One of the best things to witness is the way the actors and operator co-ordinate mimed actions with sound effects. But the medium becomes the message and only in retrospect do my companion and I stop and ask, hang on, what actually happened there?
We may be getting into spoiler territory here but I can’t critique the show without sketching in hints of what happens. The tone changes when what people are getting in their gift boxes are not what they want. A riot erupts – brilliantly dramatised by excellent collective miming and sfx – and a smashing time ensues. This could be Paris! (Is this why they have presciently kept their French personae?)
[Spoiler alert] Santa’s response is to obliterate all and sundry with a (mimed) assault rifle – a sequence that goes on and on, timed for maximum tragi-comic effect. Again the physical responses to mimed action and sfx are stunning to behold. The old trick of focusing on the death of one particular character we have become invested in, amid all the other expendables, reinforces the tragedy of it. [ends]
So what are we to take from this? Is it a warped cautionary tale warning us what will happen if we are not well behaved? Is this a commentary on the responses to anger/ upset/ disempowerment that are all-too common in the USA? Is it simply a sick play on words, delivering on the promo promise, “could be a total Xmassacre”?
Seriously if anyone can justify the dramatic validity of that sequence, please do (click ‘post a comment’ below) because I don’t like the bad taste it’s left me with.
Of course the existential crisis that follows for Santa – and Mrs Claus – could be said to also negate the ‘reality’ of what he has done. Except the sentimental tale Phillipe goes on to tell, by way of atoning for “saying things I shouldn’t have”, negates that possibility.
There are little lessons to take away that most would align with in the festive season but for me the retrospective backwash dilutes the entertainment value.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*Interesting to note that A Slightly Isolated Dog and the No Fefe Collective (PSA: The Ghost of Christmas Parties) have swapped venues this year.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Ho Ho No
Review by Matt Baker 15th Dec 2017
Aside from the Auckland Theatre Awards (a.k.a. the Hackmans), The Basement Christmas Show is the theatrical highlight of the holiday season. Each year, the Basement Theatre commissions the hottest theatrical talent to create a holiday hit that not only sees a smorgasbord of Auckland theatre practitioners and celebrities take to the stage, but also operates as an annual fundraiser to support both the venue and its artistic developments. This year, that responsibility falls to A Slightly Isolated Dog, a Wellington based theatre group who made their mark in Auckland with Don Juan in 2016 and Jekyll and Hyde earlier this year.
The aforementioned practitioners and celebrities take on a guest role, this year being the eponymous Santa Claus. In past seasons the risk for potential punters was deciding which night to attend the show, as there are inevitably fan-favourites. This year, however, it really doesn’t matter who you see. [More]
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Actors make presence felt in offbeat festive spectacle
Review by Ethan Sills 04th Dec 2017
December is here and that means there really is no avoiding Christmas now. The holiday specials and events and coming in thick and fast, and nowhere is the season at its silliest than down at The Basement.
For this year’s Christmas show, the team from A Slightly Isolated Dog present Santa Claus, an eccentric, over the top and thoroughly mad 90 minutes.
Walk through the doors into the bar-like set and before the show begins proper you are greeted by a French quartet, played by company regulars Jack Buchanan, Susie Berry, Andrew Paterson and Hayley Sproull. The four just love Christmas, and are dying to know who in the audience has been naughty or nice. [More]
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Will zing even the most cynical into the Christmas spirit
Review by Kathleen Mantel 02nd Dec 2017
Another hilarious romp from A Slightly Isolated Dog, the award-winning sexy Wellington French theatre troupe that brought Don Juan, and earlier this year Jekyll & Hyde to the stage. This time it’s Santa himself who gets a bit of a reworking. Quite a bit of a reworking.
Santa Claus is the Basement Theatre’s annual fundraiser. Auckland’s Basement Theatre is a treasure. It first opened its doors in 2008 and is chocka with extraordinary theatre, dance, comedy, music, poetry and mixes of all of the above. It’s a creative urban melting pot and hipster haven with a great bar. And it’s cheap, not like the more grandiose establishments. In summer the sun stream into the outside carpark bar and it’s in the carpark bar that most of the audience are milling about as Andrew Paterson – complete with the usual towering black stilettos, beads and a bit of lippy – ushers us up the stairs and into the theatre. “Come on darlings ze play is about to start. Up up up.”
The theatre is set up a bit like a catwalk with soft benches lining two opposing walls with little tables in front. The action happens in between. The audience sit anywhere and very soon we are draped in tinsel and asked intimate questions about ourselves: “What es your name darleng, and vhat es it you would like for ze Christmas?” The show has yet to begin … or has it begun? At some point when the audience are tinselled up enough and the cast are familiar with everyone the show begins.
I struggle to explain exactly what Santa Claus is about. It’s about Christmas. There is tinsel. Santa is ever-present and busy. But he has been noticing a lot of naughtiness. More naughtiness than niceness. He’s thinking of scrapping Christmas because of this and also because apparently people have stopped believing in him.
Bad Santa makes an appearance and guns and all manner of violence unfolds. Mrs Claus is supportive but when Santa tells her no one believes in him she’s had enough. “I gev up everyzing for you Santa. I’ve even given my fucking name.”
Santa Claus is a very clever production. Like the previous Slightly Isolated Dog creations the audience participates in a big way. But although it feels like there is a lot of improvising, the actors have a tight hold on how and what is said. The audience are the actor’s tools; they dictate the actor’s words, and embody characters.
Each night a special guest star is thrown into the chaotic slapstick mix. Tonight’s special guest is “Funny Girl Rose Matafeo”, as she is referred to throughout the show. Matafeo was a funny girl before the TV show Funny Girls, an accomplished comedian and past recipient of the Billy T James award for comedy. It’s hard to know how much she knows of the show before making her entrance, and whether she’s just as much in the dark as the audience about just what is going on. But regardless she improvises her way through, entertainingly embodying a number of questionable characters.
Christmas already getting you down? Santa Claus is your remedy, even for the most cynical anti Christmassy types. If you’re lucky you might end up under the mistletoe. Some audience members are given presents … This production is absurd and so much fun. Santa Claus will zing you into the Christmas spirit and you’ll find yourself putting an extra layer of tinsel on the tree as soon as you get home.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
John Smythe December 6th, 2018
Here is the link to my chat with Jesse Mulligan about Puss in Boots, PSA: The Ghosts of Christmas Parties and Santa Claus.