SHIFT YOUR PARADIGM – No Chairs Required
BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
01/03/2022 - 03/03/2022
BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
19/07/2022 - 21/07/2022
Co-created and Directed by Mitchell Botting
Co-created by David Bowers-Mason
PRODUCER: Emma Maguire
Do you want to get more out of life? Are you tired of lower back pain and poor cushion support? Well, in just one hour with me I’ll teach you about a whole new way to sit. Doctors hate me, and chiropractors fear me; what I can give to you will make their jobs a thing of the past.
Besides, if a pyramid scheme is so bad then why is a triangle the strongest shape?
BATS Theatre – The Stage, 1 Kent Terrace
Tuesday 01 – Thursday 3 March 2022
General Admission $20.00
Fringe Addict $16.00
Ticket + $5 $25.00
Ticket + $10 $30.00
BOOK at BATS
Shift your Paradigm (No Chairs Required) was conceived and outlined by creators Mitchell Botting and David Bowers-Mason then devised in rehearsals with all the actors involved.
David Bowers-Mason – Eric
Isabella Murray – Zoe
Kevin Orlando – High Chair Man
Sara Douglas – Jessica
Hilary Norris – Ethel
Adam Herbert – the Fax Man
Sean Metcalf – Wife guy
Adam Herbert – Lighting
Emii Wilson – Sound & Projector
Sean Metcalf – filming audio
Jett Ranchhod – stunt chairs
Mitchell Botting – Graphics and filming
Theatre , Comedy ,
A gag fuelled laugh fest with critical and satirical insight
Review by Shauwn Keil 21st Jul 2022
I feel like I haven’t been to a live show since Fringe! The immediate feeling of being in a theatre space… there’s just nothing like it. While taking a break of my own, I’m reminded that I’m where I should be, I feel at home. Enough sentimental stuff anyhow…
I step into BATS Dome greeted by soft lights, changing colour with a breath, and little more than a set of tables, laptops, a framed car and a diamond patterned rug. The fire of anticipation is stoked with minimal effort. I half expected to be sold something (given the nature of the publicity material I’ve caught online), though here I am with more than a foot in the door; sold on a concept and waiting for the goods.
We begin with no flashy introductions, Zoe (Isabella Murray) starts on stage, on the phone to Caleb (Hamish Boyle, pre-recorded) about, to put it simply, endless and unrealistic expectations. Shortly after, Eric (David Bowers-Mason) nonchalantly joins the drama and the interpersonal relationship between these two as colleagues shines immediately, without losing any sense of the stakes at hand.
While quite a basic thing to praise, I’d like to say that kicking off in this manner without having to question much about the characters history is a testament to the synergy between the two and their abilities; to let the work show rather than tell. Ironically, against much of the very telling content, this holds true throughout. Bravo.
So we find that they work for DoBeUs, incredibly on the nose, which is an unapologetic and consistent part of the comedy tonight. I will say few words about the company, just know that it’s all a big scheme no matter what you’re told, and after a quick showing of the high ego High Chair Man (Kevin Orlando), I feel set in my mind that Shift Your Paradigm is going to achieve its message through high intensity and gag humour.
The satirisation of a fast-paced marketing world is met with fast paced marketing jargon and repeat offences on repeat jokes. This show has everything I want to see more of in theatre at large on a matter of personal taste. Mind you, I do feel just as early that some of the comedy is being played to the average theatre-goer, addressing general hardships and the like. I can throw enough of a bone to this being relatable, and true enough to the characters, though it just doesn’t quite sit well with me and does feel like a bit of a throwaway to mates in context with every other diamond on display. The same is true for some moments of audience interaction, half earned and half for the novelty of it.
The blocking and choreo from start to finish is generally wonderful, and the more manufactured movements are executed between the two leads astonishingly. This goes for timing with the pre-recorded material too, which I find most satisfying, and furthermore, incredibly rare; this is not the kind of discipline I get to see often. There is no question in my mind about skill on that front, and if anything, I’d love to see it all again with a touch more fluidity.
Movement feels central to many of the gags inbound, but I already trust the cast to be funny without second thought. I’ll add that lighting and sound come into great effect for much of this staged content, truly the marriage between tech and performer that I desperately wish to see everywhere. Absolute stunner.
As comedy returns to drama in a conversation with Jessica (Ruby Kemp, pre-recorded), I only wish that our actors on the front take some time to let a sadder moment sink in before hitting us with quick solutions and humour. High paced and energetic is what this is all about, it reflects the industry they seek to critique on multiple levels of satire as well as the real world effects on human beings that are subject to this life and I really feel like that much is above par. Still, there is so much more this show has to offer.
Is this a funny show with firmer points to land in between the laughs? The fact that I have the question tells me it needs to lean harder one way with attention and refinement dedicated to the nuances. It’s really more nuance that needs mining, and it’s already there waiting for it, if you ask me.
Tailing off of that, the gags are seriously great, and my picky brain can only see how much further they can go. I’d been set up to see a folded body pose from Eric upon every instance of the High Chairman on screen, so (spoiler), when the High Chairman enters for real and I don’t get that gag pay off, I ask why, because down to it, the emotional climax isn’t wound up enough by this point for me to stop caring about the gags. Saying [redacted] three times in a row with alert SFX punctuating each one, in an otherwise tender moment, met with laughter, is enough to confirm for me where the real strength is.
Not to play the broken record, but by now it glares at me in the face that this show wants to achieve two things: a great night of entertainment and a punchy criticism on the subject matter. By the end, some areas feel resolved but I’d hardly agree that the cycle is broken, and maybe I just missed something while taking notes, but I just can’t even begin to imagine what’s next for Zoe and Eric!
Soaking in the content over a Hazy (the best one BATS has on tap), I look back on the irony of the show. A marketing world with marketeers who market their ideas which are against the ideals of marketing. A gag fuelled laugh fest led by two charming performers on a successful tightrope act with the tech team (Adam Herbert, Lighting; Emii Wilson, Sound & Projector). Combined critical and satirical insight into the marketing world and why it’s a big joke, how AND why it works, and the damage on the humans that live it… I wonder: does this show achieve those two things?
It’s only more that I crave, the high potential is screaming. But right to the point, yes it does, and I’d invite a mate to come check it out. I personally hate sharing plot, so see for yourself where it takes you. I’d put money on a much-needed laugh.
Shift Your Paradigm has one more showing in Wellington on the 21st of July, TONIGHT at 7.30pm, BATS Theatre. Get in there.
- Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Compelling commitment and worth developing
Review by John Smythe 02nd Mar 2022
The stylish ‘Do Be Us’ logo is projected on the upstage wall of the BATS black box space (The Stage). Say ‘Do Be Us’ out loud a few times at speed and you’ll get the idea.
Shift your Paradigm is a satirical take down of pyramid schemes, in this case involving the selling of ordinary looking chairs that will apparently change our lives if we buy one – or hundreds to on-sell. They certainly change the lives of those conned into the scam as salespeople at one of the levels that spread out below ‘High Chair Man’ at the peak of his powers.
We have gathered for a presentation – or is it a training session? – by driven devotee Eric (David Bowers-Mason), who sees himself as the CEO of his affiliated stratum, and his ‘junior trainee CEO’ Zoe (Isabella Murray). By inviting Zoe to tell her story then talking over her with his, Eric alienates himself from us and makes us want to hear more from her – and so it transpires.
The supposedly empowering hype includes a list of banned words: No, Sorry and the P-word. Learning opportunities – e.g. how easy it is to score a verbal contract – are offered through interactions with people by video link who have already bought into the scheme, variously played by Sara Douglas, Hilary Norris, Adam Herbert and Sean Metcalf. The illusion of immediacy with these pre-recorded inserts is convincing although it is not always clear what each adds to the whole – except for the inadvertent exchange between Eric and his mother, which is salutary.
Collapsing chairs (made by Jett Ranchhod) are an apt metaphor for the intrinsic insecurity of the set up. A disclosure about Zoe, who in turn has revelations to share, brings an upside to the inevitable decline. And the downfall of ‘High Chair Man’ (Kevin Orlando) is well conceived and enacted.
Script-wise, the attempts to bring all relevant elements into play through present action is laudable but I can’t help feeling a dedicated playwright or dramaturge would bring it all into sharper focus. If that happened, spelling out ‘the message’ at the end, as they do, would not be necessary.
What’s also missing for me is a more meaningful relationship with the audience by clearly casting us as potential recruits. And technically playing loud music over Zoe’s attempt to sell us the concept is counter-productive.
As it stands (and falls) Mitchell Botting directs the action dynamically and the actors compel our attention with their commitment to the idea and their roles – although there may be times when the instinct to should could be reconsidered with something more engaging. The good bits are excellent, however, and Shift your Paradigm is well worth developing.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Editor March 2nd, 2022
Message from Stevie at BATS Theatre <email@example.com>:
Unfortunately, this season of SHIFT YOUR PARADIGM has been cancelled, our apologies for the inconvenience. This is due to the impacts of Omicron on some of the team.
If you purchased your ticket through the New Zealand Fringe website, any refunds will be handled by Fringe directly. Their team will get in touch with all affected ticket holders, but if you need to get in touch with them, you can contact Fringe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 212 4725
Here are your options for what to do with your ticket:
- Donate your ticket payment to the artists.
- Receive a refund for your ticket.
If you do not get in contact with us by seven days of this email being sent, your ticket will automatically be donated to the artists.
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