Plays explore relationship to internet
This year's season of Young and Hungry at Bats Theatre in Wellington, the 20th, has an eclectic mix of themes but one feature consistent with all three is a laptop, and of course the internet. Dysfunctional families are also central to two of the plays, the first in particular, a futuristic gothic horror, Our Parents' Children by Alex Lodge, directed by Erina Daniels.
The central character Mary is home alone with her father John who spends all his time in his study drinking whisky. Mary's mum left when she was very small and all she has left is a lock of her hair which plays an integral part in her future relationship with online boy friend Joe, a bible-bashing American. Joe coerces Mary into a futuristic cloning type experiment but when Mary decides to assert her independence and do her own thing, there are dire consequences.
The script has moments of interest and intrigue but is far too piecemeal to allow for any cohesive forward momentum. As a consequence, the production suffers and director and cast are unable to save it from looking shambolic and uncoordinated, not helped by technical aspects of the production like hand-held data projects being more of a hindrance than a help.
In the second play, Second Afterlife, by Ralph McCubbin Howell, directed by Kerryn Palmer, the central character Dan has also spent a lot of time on his laptop. He has tried Bebo, Warcraft, even NZDating. Now he is addicted to Facebook. Then one morning, after an all-night party with his friends, he announces that he has had an epiphany and is going to delete his Facebook profile and all other profiles. But Facebook is undeletable and so Dan finds himself in the internet underworld where the Guide makes him confront the ghosts of his past profiles, the Bebo emo, the Warcraft gamer and NZDating's casanova.
During these encounters there are also flashbacks to his school days showing his relationships with his friends which all helps to resolve Dan's dilemma with great effect.
With snappy dialogue and direction with pace and energy, and lots of well choreographed fight scenes, the cast of six bring the production together excellently, making it a fascinating piece of entertaining theatre.
The third play of the evening, Uncle Minotaur by Dan Bain, directed by Sara Brodie, although not without its faults, is nevertheless still an interesting piece of writing brought very creatively to the stage.
With a mother who spends all her time on her laptop, a father who has disappeared, but reappears in an unusual guise, and bullied by her peers, Grets is having a hard time. When eye surgery goes wrong, she decides to confront her demons and ends up wandering through some sort of labyrinth where she meets a very creatively constructed Minotaur, which, it transpires, is her uncle.
Although many strands of the play appear left unconnected and a lot of the dialogue becomes inaudible through too much shouting, the production is nonetheless cleverly put together with some excellent puppet work, the monkeys on the backs of Greta's tormentors particularly effective, making this an interesting end to this year's Young and Hungry season.
The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre runs at Bats Theatre until August 2.
The Dominion Post