Theatre doesn’t necessarily need great staging in order to be successful, but it certainly helps. My highlights of the year showed great imagination and generally almost non-existent budgets, to create inviting, challenging and invigorating environments for their shows.
Te Po, Q Theatre
While I found it a frustratingly hard play to love, I could appreciate the surreal and innovative staging that pushed the boundaries, both literally and metaphorically (plenty of that in the show). With entire sets that changed perspective, giraffes appearing from cupboards, and giant fish containing younger versions of the principal character (who never appears but was a constant presence), this was an ambitiously bold statement, and a welcome addition to the Auckland Arts Festival.
Dido and Aeneas, Basement Theatre
Opera at the Basement. Genius idea. Why worry about changing the set when the audience can move instead to new spaces. Despite being sung in English, I had pretty much no idea what was happening, but just soaked up the music, the costumes, and the atmosphere.
Don Juan, Q Theatre
Hugely innovative and enjoyably interactive, Don Juan was a blast. Particularly loved the audience powered sea and the bar being brought into the theatre during the break. This is the sort of theatre that gives theatre a good name, always surprising and entertaining.
Love Me Tinder, Freida Margolis
Girl meets boy on Tinder, then for real in a bar. So why recreate a bar when you can just host the show in a bar in Grey Lynn. Which other than a few sight line issues worked perfectly for this mix of hip hop, opera, ballad and spoken word, part of the International Cabaret Festival.
Mia Blonde in “Ice Dagger”, Basement Theatre
A globe trotting, Bond inspired, song and dance on a Basement budget and size stage was always going to require a serious amount of imagination, which thankfully was on display in force. In particular I loved the ski scene with people dressed as trees whizzing by, and the laser maze to navigate.
Flaps, Basement Theatre
Making me feel both mentally and physically comfortable, the impressive collection of mattresses, plus friendly cast, helped put me at ease during a show that, based on it’s somewhat graphic description, I was to be honest a little apprehensive about seeing.
Free Money, Basement Theatre
As much a piece of performance art, Free Money was a fully interactive and engaging show questioning our relationship with money. Two pieces of staging stood out for me. Exploiting the Basement’s convenient car park location to literally throw money down the drain, and the inventive use of bubble wrap to illustrate the world’s supply of money with mind expanding results.
Close City, Basement Theatre
Seemingly everything bar a kitchen sink (though there was a bucket of water) was somehow fitted upstairs at the Basement. To be honest the purpose of much of it was lost on me, but it made for a vibrant and ever changing show, in tune with the surrealistic plot and dialogue.
What do you think of this selection? Anything you loved that I either missed or didn’t mention?