It's politics, but not as you know it

Last updated 14:57 28/08/2014
PSA at Bats

CRAIG'S WATCHING: PSA cast members Joel Baxendael, Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and Ralph McCubbin-Howell as Green Party MPs Gareth Hughes, Metiria Turei and Russel Norman.

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Winston's back, Colin's throwing a tantrum and Paula's on the prowl.

Timed to coincide with the cut and thrust of this year's general election, Public Service Announcements is returning to Bats for Raucous Caucus, a festival of political theatre and comedy.

Longer than ever before and with its biggest cast to date, the PSA Election Special is the ninth run of the political satire show.

New characters this year include Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig, David Seymour and Tony Abbott, alongside stalwarts like Winston Peters and John Key.

Director Anya Tate-Manning, who also appears onstage as Jacinda Ardern, said it was great to have a politically aware cast involved.

"They come to us with ideas if we've missed something," she said.

If the writing team of James Nokise, Simon Leary and Thom Adams had any particular political leanings or biases they would make especially sure to take the mickey out of their side, Tate- Manning said.

"We don't take sides," she said. "We make fun of everyone."

Tate-Manning said that although the show was satire, in the past the writers had been quite good at predicting how New Zealand politics would unfold.

In previous shows, David Cunliffe's leadership aspirations were never far away and in last year's Christmas PSA shows, writer James Nokise included a scene where Cunliffe was welcomed onstage to Cook Island drumming, something laughable at the time.

But Cunliffe was indeed welcomed onto a stage at Labour's annual congress this year by nothing other than Cook Island drummers.

Was it a case of life imitating art? Tate-Manning thought so.

"It's getting harder for the writers. It's hard to be much more ridiculous than the reality."

The show includes some reactions to the Dirty Politics book saga, a source of material for the show that proved both a nightmare to work with and a comedy gift for the writers.

Tate-Manning said though she enjoyed working on the shows, it could be hard work. Those involved did it for the love of theatre and satire.

"It's really hard to get funding for political shows," she said.

"We feel it's important to do though. As artists it's the only power you have."

Those attending the show won't feel lectured to, though. It's all about having a laugh, Tate- Manning said.

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- The Wellingtonian


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