THE YETI TRILOGY
03/09/2013 - 07/09/2013
27/08/2013 - 31/08/2013
The Yeti Trilogy is a riotous night of comedy featuring an inventive mix of lovable characters, sharp social satire and a woman in a Yeti costume. In part one we meet the lovable Yeti, Nepalese immigrant and struggling screenwriter. When she falls for her flatmate Tom, what started as happy families ends in betrayal and bloodlust.
In part two, with Yeti in a coma, a devastated Tom is forced to decide where his heart truly lies.
In part three, Tom is reunited with Yeti in the Himalayas. When his jealous ex-wife returns he must fight for his life and the future of the Yeti species itself.
You ain’t seen nothing Yeti…
at BATS Out of Site, Wellington
Tuesday 27th – Saturday 31st August
at The Basement, Auckland
Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 7th September 2013
Featuring Natalie Medlock, Thomas Sainsbury, Yvette Parsons, Daniel Musgrove and Chris Parker
The Light Yeti Rises
Review by Matt Baker 04th Sep 2013
Love, lust, manipulation, jealously, and revenge are the key ingredients of any great melodrama, and no Auckland based theatrical melodrama has proved so great as The Moving Theatre Company’s Yeti Trilogy. Encompassing original productions Dan Is Dead: I Am Yeti and Yeti Is Dead: I Am Tom, the Yeti Trilogy incorporates a third act, Yeti In The Himalayas, to create a madcap 2 hour show based on the shenanigans of New Zealand’s favourite Nepalese character.
As titular immigrant Yeti, Natalie Medlock’s comedic timing and delivery is brilliant – to the extent that it is often hard to tell which lines are coming from the script and which are coming spontaneously based on the audience’s reactions. What makes her character so appealing, regardless of some of her actions, is her innocence and role as a foreigner, and her attempts to understand and incorporate the aspects of Kiwi life… mate. It’s a testament to absurdist theatre how much this play genuinely touches upon serious social and moral issues, however lightly it may do so. [More]
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Truly hilarious, anarchic, dizzying fun
Review by Stephen Austin 04th Sep 2013
What started out as a short piece in the Comedy Festival has now turned into an epic of truly lunatic proportions, as The Moving Theatre Company bring back the lovable Yeti Himalaya to tell her story with her pals for some truly mind-boggling closure.
It’s all a completely surrealist, absurdist set-up: Yeti has come to New Zealand to see the sights and find her place in the world. She soon finds love in Tom, a down-on-his-luck guy with a manipulative wife and money woes. Tom falls for her hard and Yeti sees her chance at true love and goes for it, no matter the consequence, even when the angry wife comes after them armed to the eyeballs.
It all spirals into and out to ridiculous proportions from there, involving situations straight out of soap opera and social satire that bites firmly, if not very sharply, while still teetering right on the brink of credibility. Fun is poked at nearly everyone for the sake of the story and not a single comedic stab is wasted.
Natalie Medlock’s Yeti is classic fish-out-of-water comedy. Alien and naive to the point of simplicity, layering on seductive and animalistic tones to keep us with her as the urbane creature that she is. She barely misses a single moment to gain a laugh, each gesture and nuanced facial tick perfected to the nth degree. How she doesn’t sweat to death in that shag-pile costume is a mystery.
A lesser performer would have chewed up an almost risible ‘Fu Manchu’ accent for the character, but Medlock is fully articulate with a cutsie through-the-teeth puppy-dog manner that makes Yeti one of the most loveable protagonists in years. She is so compellingly robust a character that I feel she could survive within other scenarios; I’m fascinated by her enough to want to know how she’d mix with other characters outside of this world created here.
As Tom, the always hard-working Thomas Sainsbury balances the character of a truly pathetic loser with enough believable likeability to prove to us his worth as Yeti’s lover. He plays his more dramatic moments with a sort of pointed sincerity that drives us cleverly towards the next punchline and gives a real human heart to the play that feels as true as this insane scenario can strive for.
In the first two-thirds of the show, Daniel Musgrove plays the classical pepper-pot character of Tom’s suburban mum, eschewing taste and style for a pure high-camp screech. It’s completely hilarious however, and he makes the character intrinsic to the universe of the play by totally keeping focus and playing the truth at the core of the role.
He comes into his own in the third act when he adds the role of “the last Yeti on earth”, Simon, even if he is losing eyebrows on a regular basis. Extensive quick-fire costume changes seem a logistical breeze to Musgrove, who uses it to fuel the level of angst in both characters.
Yvette Parsons has the hardest job on the stage, having to sustain the gross-out humour and antagonistic stakes in the role of Tom’s wife Yvette. To be honest, I lost some of her delivery in movement, probably due to her over-familiarity with the material, but she makes up for that shortfall by being utterly fearless in the face of the tasteless excesses of this exceedingly crass psychotic woman.
The newly written third act veers off wildly into new directions. Yeti heads home to the Himalayas to reconcile with her true family, but finds that a horrible fate has befallen the species. Further complications arise and we’re treated to a reality TV climax that comes out of left-field.
That the audience is left to decide the climax of this third act of the trilogy tells of a bit of looseness in the plotting and maybe some indecision in the development of this new sequence, but by the time we get there it’s all on such a roll that we’re with these characters one hundred percent, no matter how bizarre the situation gets.
Director Sophie Roberts has pulled together some truly hilarious, anarchic, dizzying fun with this production – and we don’t get enough of that in the theatre these days.
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Off the wall and occasionally very funny
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 31st Aug 2013
The Yeti Trilogy is totally off the wall, silly, crude, determinedly non-PC, and occasionally very funny. It has been given an appropriately rough and ready production that allows the preposterous plot to develop over two hours without hindrance of such highfalutin concepts as sophistication and taste.
Its soap opera plot concerns Yeti from the Himalayas in search of the New Zealand experience. Having seen the usual tourist sights she ends up in Auckland sharing a flat with the unhappily married Tom and Yvette.
Tom soon finds her soft white fur and her cutesy baby voice arousing and he gets carried away with the idea that he is the hero Han Solo when he discovers Yeti is writing a film script.
Yvette and Tom’s mum, who is after valuable pelts, decide that Yeti has to go but over Tom’s dead body and Yeti ends up in a coma and when she eventually recovers she hikes it off back to the Himalayas where she meets up with Simon, a male Yeti with a soft German accent.
Simon and Yeti go hibernating and then Tom arrives on tennis rackets for shoes in the Himalayas but his fitness to climb in the mountains is suspect as the most exercise he has ever taken is the short walk from the lazy boy to the fridge.
It all ends disastrously but then they all appear on The Chris Parker Show, which has a remarkable similarity to ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show in which Chris, like Jeremy, encourages emotional and physical confrontations. In the end the audience is called into make a judgement on the family and their entanglements.
All five actors throw themselves into this madcap story with élan but it is Thomas Sainsbury who carries the show with a very funny performance: his attempt at a showy, modish, sexy dance is brilliantly sustained as is his histrionic emotional breakdown which has to be extended to cover the lengthy scene change behind him are comic highlights. He is not only a prolific playwright but also a talented comic actor.
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Absurdist theatre reinvigorated
Review by John Smythe 28th Aug 2013
The long white fur of Natalie Medlock’s delightful comic creation, Yeti Himalaya, first graced our stages in the 2011 Comedy Festival in a show called Dan is Dead / I am Yeti. Last year, also in the Comedy Festival, we saw the sequel: Yeti is Dead / I am Tom.
Now The Yeti Trilogy revisits those works in revised form – the first part distilled; the second part radically cut and reworked – and adds a third act, which takes in some of what used to be in Part Two, brings it all to a dramatic climax and adds a component that involves us in deciding how the story will be resolved.
As before, the comedy works best where the absurdist premise is developed according to a real world logic, with authentic characterisations and deep-felt emotions compelling us to believe in it all. The consciously corny comic performances that afflicted last year’s effort and eclipsed any hint of substance have disappeared, and the company is back on track with their use of the mythical to comment on the actual.
Part one is narrated by Yeti (Medlock) in the trademark ‘Nepalling’ accent which is at once endearing and often so heavy – within the action, too – that it distracts us from the wit and import of her perspective as we try to decipher it. She has had to “reave the Himarayas” because of the “irregal fur twade” and is “rooking” for real Kiwis settle down with.
Thomas Sainsbury and Yvette Parsons reprise Westie couple Tom and Yvette, whose empty, purposeless, cash-strapped lives are brightened by the arrival of Yeti as a flatmate. While her lack of an income does nothing to solve their financial woes, they choose her ahead of Tom’s mother, who is driving a PledgeMe Campaign to fund the web-series that will manifest Tom’s true talent and worth. Yeah, right.
At the end of yet another unfulfilling day working at Rainbow’s End, Yvette loves to stroke, cuddle and sing with Yeti. Tom, however, whose job at JB Hi Fi is doomed, tries to suppress his attraction to Yeti. But when she in turn is turned on by Chewbacca in a Star Wars DVD and he draws attention to his being a Hans Solo lookalike the chemistry is undeniable … See it to believe it.
Along with the tightening of the intertwining relationship threads, we get satirical commentary on the screen industry, exacerbated by Yeti’s meteoric rise as a hot young film-maker and darling of “The Warner Brothers Film Commission of New Zealand”. She is genuinely thrilled at the promise of “two percent in her back end”.
Despite his despair as a failed film-maker, the fatal attraction between Tom and Yeti escalates, and Yvette’s revenge dalliance with Dave Dobbyn brings things to a shocking climax …
Sainsbury’s intentionally dire Dobbyn impersonation and Tom’s sustained howl of despair to cover the scene-change into Part Two are rare moments where the actor behind the character is consciously exposed. Otherwise, despite the obviously theatrical devices used to convey the story, the characters and the ‘truths’ of their existence are sustained. And, necessarily, Tom takes over the narration.
Yeti is in a coma and Tom, at her hospital bedside, is in despair. Beyond that, in many respects, Part Two is radically different – and vastly improved – from last year’s show. There is no male nurse called Dennis Potter Okinawa or magic flute-playing leprechaun called Shaun. Dan Musgrove only appears as Tom’s ‘cougar’ Mother – played in full-on Monty Python style – still on her quest to fund the ‘webisodes’. The core dramatic conflict builds inexorably around Yeti’s tenuous grip on life versus the enticingly lucrative fur trade.
Yvette, meanwhile, is in prison. The scriptwriting choices made here, in exploring her character’s way of coping, seem gratuitously gross and do nothing to put moral pressure on an emotionally conflicted Tom, which is what the story requires. As the clock spins on, the question of whether to switch Yeti off becomes more and more unavoidable …
There are some very funny sequences in the hospital, which I will not detail here. But it cannot be a spoiler to reveal that Yeti survives and revives, given there is a third part to come in the Trilogy. An amusing PledgeMe Promo video brings us to interval and, as the publicity blurb quips, we “ain’t seen nothing Yeti”.
A painted panel upstage suggests we are in the Himalayas for Part Three, where Yeti – our narrator once more – relishes the bliss of liberty. And who should turn up but her ‘ex’, a male yeti called Simon, played by Musgrove in a Nordic accent, which lends an appropriate tone to the depressive nature he is trying to overcome. Their reunion is delightfully touching …
Meanwhile back in West Auckland, Tom is attempting to settle with and for an ankle-braceletted Yvette. Although the anticipated financial windfall from the online webisodes have not materialised (surprise, surprise) – prompting more insightful commentary on how things are for “us creative types” – attempts are made to celebrate Tom’s 40th birthday … But hitting this milestone is a wake-up call for Tom …
A tragic discovery in the mountains high above Kathmandu devastates Yeti and brings her closer to Simon. Their lives take a whole new turn with the very survival of their species at stake. And here we get a deeply poignant insight into the timeless conflict between finding personal fulfilment and working for ‘the greater good’.
Crimes of passion, the excesses of the skin trade and the survival of a species all come together in a spectacular way that, again, has to be seen to be believed. And I repeat, what makes the comedy work so well is the cast’s total commitment to their ‘reality’ in a situation involving extreme jeopardy.
In this longer form, Parsons’ Yvette character gets into a bit of a shallow ‘let’s be shocking’ rut but the contrast between her capacity to love and her self-defeating behaviours is well delineated, and the psychopathic glaze that comes over her when equipped with a weapon is profoundly disturbing.
Sainsbury’s Tom is a compelling psychological study, all the stronger for its minimalist style in performance. Musgrove’s Mum is rather one-note, though well articulated, but his Simon is deeply rooted in readily recognised states of being.
The apparent lightness of touch Medlock brings to Yeti Himalaya belies an exquisite comedic skill that – as with the best clowns and commedia exponents – finds great eloquence in the full range of emotional states.
The ‘resolution’ phase comes as a total surprise and it may be a spoiler to reveal its exact nature. Suffice to say that the surreality of the story to date is reflected in the evocation of a daytime TV format that in itself is a surreal commentary on human behaviour and reeks of a latter-day Coliseum. It is also redolent of whodunnits, where the detective sums up the situation before revealing the culprit, or Shakespearean comedies, where some Duke or other determines the fate of the miscreants. But in this case, with Chris Parker’s ‘Dr Chris’ at the helm, it is us, the audience, who are tasked with the responsibility of determining their fates. (I assume three different epilogues await the outcome.)
Director Sophie Roberts has ensured that for all the whimsy and flourishes that attend the actors’ largely inspired performances, it all turns around a dramatic core of credible consequence. What could so easily have lapsed into wacky entertainment for a coterie of friends has transcended the sum of its parts to reward us with a memorable commentary on human nature and the values – or lack of them – that drive our behaviours.
The Yeti Trilogy reinvigorates the absurdist theatre genre. Enjoy!
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