Watch Out Gay Panda
07/03/2023 - 11/03/2023
Written, Produced and Performed by Dennis Eir Lim
Dennis Eir Lim
Dennis Eir Lim (co-devisor of ‘ELEVATOR!’ and ‘Table’ by STEW Productions) is on a mission to save the vulnerable panda species, and miraculously he finds a panda in the far hidden land of Wellington in Aotearoa. The only problem is he’s gay! Will Dennis be able to save Panda-kind or will the family-tree be put on paws!?
Watch Out Gay Panda is a solo show devised and produced by Dennis Eir Lim which blends his skills as a song writer and theatre performer. It’ll be a night of camp fun but also moments of stillness and emotion. One performer, one piano and one panda are all you’ll see on the stage, but don’t let that simplicity fool you – you’re in for a wild ride!
Theatre , Solo ,
Sweet, peaceful, relaxing, charming, funny and clever story of self discovery
Review by Wesley Hollis 08th Mar 2023
You may have seen pandas in the zoo before, but have you ever seen a panda in the middle of the city? How about a panda putting on a Fringe show? If you’re keen to check out something a little bit different, come and see Watch Out Gay Panda at BATS Theatre. This show, written and performed by Dennis Eir Lim, proves to be a wonderful night of music, comedy and storytelling.
The Dome space is set up with a keyboard, a looper pedal and a microphone – nothing else. Throughout the show, Dennis manages to use this simple set up to great effect. The lighting is nothing flash, just enough to highlight the performer on the stage. In the background, the sound of traffic on a quiet road plays, setting the scene for somewhere urban yet calm.
When Dennis arrives on stage, the background noise fades as he introduces himself as the Panda. Aside from two buns in his hair that look like panda ears, he is not dressed or made up as a panda. Dennis is nevertheless convincing in his portrayal of this unusual character: a Panda with hopes and dreams beyond the confines of the zoo.
Immediately we are captivated and there are a few laughs as he tells us about his life. The mood varies through the show – often funny, at times hopeful and even sad. The audience is on board and reactive, sympathetic to the Panda’s struggles as he tries to navigate life in a human world.
Music and sound effects are the most captivating features of this show, helping to tell the story just as much as the dialogue does. Performed and recorded live on stage, Dennis uses keyboard, voice, percussive sounds and even at one point the audience. It’s a treat getting to watch him play with the looper pedal and create all sorts of fun and unusual melodies. The music helps to set the mood for the show – gentle and ethereal, with a couple of dramatic or upbeat moments thrown in. The sound effects help to paint a vivid picture of each scene in the minds of the audience.
The story in itself is well written and interesting, with a character that is easy to love and invest in emotionally. There are a few times where the story feels aimless, but in a way that speaks to how the Panda, and perhaps ourselves, feel lost in everyday life. The show involves some trial and error and I think that with a little bit of polishing it could be even more incredible than it already is.
This performance has a semi-improvisational feel, especially the music, sound effects and moments where the audience are encouraged (voluntarily) to make suggestions and contribute to the telling of the story. While there is an LGBT aspect to the show, this does not play as big a part in the narrative as I was expecting and certainly isn’t the only defining feature of the main character. Gay Panda is a determined and delightful character, and it is wonderful to watch his journey from a young individual finding his way in the world to one who is confident and self-assured.
Watch Out Gay Panda is a sweet and peaceful show that is easy to enjoy. If you want to watch something relaxing, charming, funny and clever, this is the show to come and see. It is a story with self discovery, freedom, love, heartbreak, betrayal, and coming to accept yourself for who you really are.
There are times where Dennis seems to be speaking about his own life, or the life of the audience members, as much as the Panda’s life. Maybe this is because the Panda is such a wonderful and relatable character. You’ll see when you come to watch the show – there’s a little Gay Panda in all of us.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer