Standstill, written and directed by Anders Falstie-Jensen
Bats Theatre, until June 23
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman
Every once in a while a fascinating piece of theatre comes along that is original and innovative, that defies description, and even possibly understanding. One such show is Anders Falstie-Jensen's Standstill playing early evenings (6.30pm) at Bats Theatre.
Three actors playing various characters spend an hour on treadmills regaling the audience, mainly by way of monologues, about life and modern day living. Not that they are insightful pieces on the meaning of life but rather snippets that the characters tell about themselves.
Central is Colin the Cambridge Cannonball (Kevin Keys), an internationally recognised cyclist who trains his heart out to compete at the Olympics, to the detriment of all else.
Then there is Dr Peter Thompson (Andi Crown), who has a strange experience with a male nurse, and motivational speaker Josephine (Josephine Stewart Tewhiu).
Interspersed with these are other stories of going for a job interview, workers on a production line, the treadmills effectively used to move cans along a conveyer belt, and German tourists on a guided tour of NZ.
While none of the stories appears connected, the one continuous strand is the fact that all the while the actors are speaking they are also jogging on the treadmills, the speed of each varying depending on the tempo of the story.
No doubt the continuous moving on the spot but in fact standing still is a metaphor for various aspects of life that are portrayed through the stories, with such descriptions as the physical determination to succeed, to push oneself to the end while on the other side of life's coin the daily grind of working but going nowhere and the often futility of trying to achieve coming to mind.
And while the characters are so thinly sketched that it is difficult to actually identify with any of their actual situations and the interpretation can be whatever one makes of it, these in no way lessen the impact of the piece.
The sheer fascinating of seeing the three actors pounding away continuously while talking with animation and feeling is in itself sufficient to make the production engaging and satisfying to watch.
And the finale, silently intensifying to music as it moves towards the climax, creates a fitting ending to a unique and novel way of storytelling.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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