The Island Bay Loners Doomsday Christmas Sing Along
29/11/2012 - 15/12/2012
An Apocalyptic Sing-Along Christmas Treat at BATS
The Mayans were right, the world is going to end on the 21st of December. Luckily, the New Zealand Government is officially moving Christmas Day forward so we can all die celebrating.
At least, that’s the premise of a new Christmas comedy premiering at BATS Theatre on the 29th of November. The Island Bay Loners’ Doomsday Christmas Sing-Along follows a group of friendless Island Bay strangers as they gather to party like there’s no tomorrow. Because there isn’t.
When reclusive opera diva Dame Gloria Gibson invites the people of New Zealand to her end of the world Christmas party on the Island Bay island, a jilted magician, twin pop star hopefuls, and two stranded Brits suddenly find themselves set to go out on a high note – literally.
Combining traditional carols and modern Christmas hits, writers Alex Lodge, Ed Watson and Cherie Jacobson have created a Christmas musical comedy with the opportunity for the audience to join in on some of their favourite Christmas songs.
“There’s something really special about singing Christmas songs with a big group of people,” says co-writer Cherie Jacobson. “Wellington weather means outdoor carols are always a bit of a risk, so we thought a Christmas sing-along in a theatre where you can have a glass of wine to warm the vocal chords would be a great idea.”
For those without the inclination to sing-along, there’s plenty of comedy from the team who entertained audiences at BATS earlier this year with Nucking Futs, a show about life and literature online, set in Huntly.
“While this is a light-hearted Christmas comedy that captures the festive spirit, it also has some of the dark humour its writers have become known for,” says director Uther Dean. “I can’t sing to save myself, but the cast is pretty amazing to listen to – our musical director Kerina Deas is making sure of that.”
The Island Bay Loners’ Doomsday Christmas Sing-Along is one of the final shows for 2012 at BATS Theatre. It’s also one of the last shows to appear on the BATS stage before the theatre makes a temporary move to Civic Square [to be confirmed] while its 1 Kent Terrace building undergoes earthquake strengthening and renovation throughout 2013.
Anyone who brings a can of food to donate to the City Mission gets their ticket for the concession price, so join the Island Bay loners for a healthy dose of Christmas songs, snacks and impending doom. It’ll be the Christmas to end all Christmasses.
The Island Bay Loners’ Doomsday Christmas Sing-Along
29 November – 15 December, 7pm.
Tickets $18 full-price, $14 concession
Bring a can of food to donate to the City Mission to get a concession price ticket!
Bookings: www.bats.co.nz or (04) 802 4175
Carrie Rehutai Green
A whimsical excuse to sing a few songs
Review by John Smythe 30th Nov 2012
Impending apocalypse is the premise that brings a bunch of loner misfits together (or not) on the tiny island in Island Bay to share (or not) the best last Christmas Day ever.
The Island Bay Loners Doomsday Christmas Sing Along is ‘writen’, according to the programme & song book, by Alex Lodge, Cherie Jacobsen and Edward Watson. Directed by Uther Dean with musical director Kerina Deas, the opportunity it affords for a Christmas sing-along is welcome and fun. Other elements are under-developed.
Snappy lighting cues (Tania Ngata) introduce and sustain the opening gambit of the MC, But-But, who neither stammers nor is broad of beam but is a butler. He has a John Key puppet in his pocket, which makes but a brief appearance, and is played with a sly wit by Ed Watson.
But-But’s employer, Dame Gloria Gibson – given to singing her given name gloriously at every opportunity – is played over-the-top and pretty well on the one note as a comment on the idea of an opera diva by Loren Martin. Given most divas run the full gamut of emotions from A to Z it’s a shame her range is about O to P.
Gloria lives on the island and has invited thousands to the apocalypse party but only five turn up. To varying degrees they succeed more at finding a bit more emotional range and depth of characterisation.
Sam Hallanan is misanthropic magician Trevor, whose constant flourishing and dispersing of playing cards seems to be building up to something … but [spoiler alert?] no.
Two English loners are reunited. Paul Waggott’s Bryan, on a cycle tour, seems to be a loner by choice while Carrie Retuhai Green’s Paulette wants nothing more than to get back with him. Their story has the most structure and is therefore the most satisfying, not least because they are both very inventive in exploring their opportunities. (To see what else new Toi graduate Green has done, search ‘Carrie Green’.)
Twin wannabe pop stars Holly and Ivy are brought to high-energy life by Francesca Emms and Hannah Banks in a veritable farrago of squabbling sibling rivalry.
Perhaps the only character to honour the Doomsday premise throughout is pianist Ruby – played by Adrianne Roberts – who has apocalypse smeared all over her tragic lips.
Otherwise the excellent premise is mostly forgotten rather than exploited while the characters and their relationships are being established and then being played with, which is a major lapse in dramaturgy and directing.
The strange device of the MC/But-But narrating the story in the past tense (post-apocalypse?) also drains the show of its potential dramatic tension. So in the end it simply plays out as a whimsical excuse to sing a few of the Christmas songs, which maybe all the creators intended.
It’s homesick Bryan who has the excuse to be ‘Dreaming Of a White Christmas’ but unfortunately global warming is working the other way. Oh no, sorry. it’s climate change, extreme weather, right, and hey, in this tiny island at the end of the world, that means anything can happen …
Like Doomsday itself, The Island Bay Loners Doomsday Christmas Sing Along is probably best experienced with a bit of festive lubrication on board (although not too much because the lack of a central aisle makes getting to the loo during this 90-minute show rather problematic).
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