You know what? I really don’t like you!

Paramount, Wellington

11/02/2006 - 16/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

by Amalia Calder
co-directed by Lorraine Ward


Inflatable hammers, torrid romances, mistaken identities, the time out room, those bathie bally things that smell nice.

Amalia Calder
Mike King
Nicole Smith
Russell Raethel

Theatre ,

1 hr

Nowhere to go, no way to grow

Review by Lynn Freeman 15th Feb 2006

You know what? I really don’t like you! is a shambles of a play, starting out with cartoonish OTT antics and trying (and failing) to turn itself into something deep and meaningful by the end. It’s billed as a comedy but pillowfights, screaming tantrums, inflatable objects and a book called Joyful Births by V A Gina just aren’t funny.

In synopsis: Jed (Mike King) meets two highly emotional (crazy/neurotic) women in a "time out" room. Much screaming ensues. Crazy woman one, Jan (played by the play’s author Amalia Calder) has had some earth shattering news which she shares with her sharp-edged up-tight friend Storm, who is having a mad passionate affair with a copper, Charlie. But the connection between the four doesn’t end there.

Nicole Smith and Russell Raethel are clearly experienced performers but even they can’t salvage anything from a flawed script which gives their characters nowhere to go and no way to grow.

Mike King (former Mr Wellington Puniverse) is weighed down with a role that allows him only to whine and pull faces like a two year old.

Making a bad situation worse, the direction comes from the school of – "If you don’t know what to do with your actor have them put their hands on their hips and pout, or if they’re blokes, put their hands in their trouser pockets and slouch".


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Forced humour

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 13th Feb 2006

Reviewers know as well as anyone the problem of writers block, so it was with some sympathy that this Reviewer watched the opening scenes of the first show of the this years Fringe Festival at the Paramount. 

Amalia Calder’s You know what? I really don’t like you! is a rather convoluted play that takes some time to reach it’s stride, not helped by the unsympathetic venue with its bad sightlines and poor acoustics (its an OK venue for movies but not for the spoken word).  And although the relationships of the four characters become somewhat unbelievable and the outcome is obvious long before the play ends, the final scenes do have the potential of developing into an interesting production.

Jed (Mike King), a writer for a publishing firm, is sent to the company’s "time out" room by his boss Storm (Nicole Smith).  While he is there trying to chill out and over come his block he is attached, and rather viciously with inflatable hammers and base ball bats, by one of his colleagues Jan (Amalia Calder), just because it seems, she doesn’t like him.  When Jed’s father Charlie (Russell Raethel) arrives he adds a much needed diversion to the screaming and hitting and we finally see the connection the four characters have with each other.

Director Lorraine Ward has created a very physical production with the cast giving the play plenty of pace expending lots of frenetic energy, although at times this is too much as they often flip over into silliness and ham acting.  And the play does have its funny moments but again the cast need to allow the humour to surface naturally and not keeping forcing it.

Nevertheless they do perform with commitment and enthusiasm to give this first up play by another emerging playwright an airing.


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Tantrums just showing off

Review by John Smythe 12th Feb 2006

Two years ago I feared the Fringe had spawned "sociopathic theatre", a prime example being Hospital Corners written, produced and directed by Amalia Calder. I described it as "a childlike excursion into sociopathic self-interest" riddled with "manic but sadly uncomic business" in an "ultra-heightened" style. The failure of anyone to care about anyone or anything beyond "their own self-serving obsessions" left me caring even less.

In Calder’s new play, You know what? I really don’t like you!, people do care about who they are, where they fit and whether they are loved but the "manic but sadly uncomic business" problem remains.

It all starts with tantrums in the time out room of what the media release – but not the play – tells me is a publishing firm in Wellington. At first the use of an inflatable hammer and baseball bat, cushions as weapons, and slaps and hair-pulling, lead me to believe the plot exists solely to generate excuses for stage violence.

But slowly, amid the relentlessly high anxiety and heightened physicality, a sense of real people in a real world confronted by real concerns begins to surface. Now it seems we are witnessing a phase in rehearsals where the actors fade their dialogue into the background (a lot of it is very softly spoken) and commit to the emotional dimension by magnifying and acting out hugely what would normally be their internalised feelings.

Eventually the core dramatic drivers of Jan (Calder) discovering she is adopted, and Jed (Mike King) seeking his birth mother and discovering he has a twin sister – while their boss, Storm (Nicole Smith) seems to wrestle with a manic sex drive and Jed’s father, Charlie (Russell Raethel), tries to bond with his boy – fight to gain traction as credible while the crazy behaviour persists.

The resolution is send-up soap-opera, plot-wise, so for a moment seeing it as "absurdist theatre" seems to do the trick. But no. It’s a mish-mash that leaves its audience floundering despite extremely committed performances from clearly talented actors who are somehow trapped in showing off aspects of their craft rather than using it to some greater purpose.

What’s missing is a strategy for engaging the audience in anything beyond just watching a lot of acting happening before their very eyes.


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