Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

03/03/2016 - 05/03/2016

Hamilton Fringe 2016

Production Details

SHOES is an originally devised narrative showcasing one evening in a raving nightclub. The play documents the journey a variety of people take from arrival to closing time, and the many dark situations they find themselves in over the course of the night. This will be a night to remember.

Thurs 3rd, Fri 4th, Sat 5th

Theatre ,

Funny but could – should –be better

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 04th Mar 2016

Tonight, I am with my beloved (a rare treat, he is usually too busy) to review the first show of Hamilton Fringe 2016.   

I have had my fair share of experiences in bars and clubs over my ‘fierce drinking, youth culture, time-proof, vulnerable-beyond-belief years, so I am compelled to see Shoes this evening; its programme description speaks to my core.

Shoes is – as described in the programme – “an originally devised narrative showcasing one evening in a raving nightclub”. It purports that; “this will be a night to remember”. This has me excited as I do find some empathy with a well-done piece of theatre about clubbing.

That it is devised is magnificent, as surely devising is the essence of good fringe theatre work, and no better platform to showcase one’s ability to co-create than here in Hamilton, at the icon of all things experimentally endorsed and frequently excellent: The Meteor, no less.

At first I remark that the usher is giving us all wrist stamps as we enter. Husband says, “There must be an intermission.”

“Nope,” says I. “This is JUST like being in a real nightclub!!” I am so excited. These little authentic touches rock me, every time. 

The set is rather legitimate too; hats off to lighting and sound designer Sam Moxham who gets it so right with his use of black light. And the music, yes proper rave culture going on here; another hat is taken off to the music producer and curator Rohan Redgrave who either knows his stuff or has winged it sublimely. No feet can stay still when a good driving beat is under them, almost lifting them to dance. Wonderful! 

So, to the story. People in a bar, doing what they do in a bar: getting merry, looking to get laid, spewing, shouting, brawling, underage ragers looking to talk their way in the door, the best and most entertaining opportunists of the night (they are not credited, but to be fair they do steal the show twice with their bold, keen faces and forced speech), arguing…and no proper bar would be complete without a cat fight!

All of the elements are here! There is even love. Ah, love. Never in the reality of a nightclub, but that’s why theatre is so great… anything can be real and really happen… if it is done right. Tonight, it isn’t done well enough. I want to cry, but am dry-eyed.  

I love the well thought out and well done backlit screen effect of the set. A nice juxtaposition as we watch our patrons enjoying themselves while giving our jaded, dull bouncer a suitable background for his social commentary-cum-sermon on the sad world of hospitality, delivered from his pavement pulpit. Apparently the appointment of actor Tim Kapoor to the role of bouncer is last minute – he doesn’t really miss a beat so without knowing this I would have said he made a great study. 

Antony-Paul Aiono steals the show as Shoes: the quintessential drunk club-hopper who has a round of drinks for anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat (or the drop of a beat!!). He is a well-known Hamilton actor who tonight shows his versatility and prowess; any lesser actor would have hammed the part into laughable obscurity. 

Melissa Hayler plays Lilith, the hapless horn bag that will stop at naught to take the man. She is naturally naughty and so relatable. She manages somehow to take the talking-head trap and turn it around enough that she is watchable and engaging. Great work.

The problem here – the one thing that stops this show from being a masterful work – is direction. Why must so many young writers insist upon writing and then directing – whilst acting… in the lead?!?! 

Sebastian Byrne has a great premise here, and great writing, the laughs are steady; he has the script – for the most part – down… If I was to split hairs I would suggest that he should have sent his work on to a dramaturge. He has (just) enough acting talent to play our lead Dominic, who – under a more proficient director – would have soared. I feel that our man Byrne, all things fair and equal, doesn’t have the directorial skill to do his own play the justice it deserves. 

Hey, there are some good, good laughs and I leave entertained yet disappointed. I look at the husband and he says, “Yeah, nah, it was pretty funny.”  He’s right, it was… but it could have – should have – been better.

It is reasonably priced show so I say you should go see it. The acting is by and large sound, and the intentions are good (at least I feel they are). Besides which, it’s the fringe; some might say this piece is fringe theatre at its best and most promising. 


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