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March 13, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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SuperBeast

SuperBeast is the second part in the Biting Myth Trilogy. It follows up on the runaway Fringe 05 success of Eating the Wolf – a uniquely feminist retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In the first show all was going happily to plan until Grandma got a little sick of the treatment of women in her story so she stuck it to the man and before the wolf could say “All the better to see you with my dear” she had gobbled him up and the story continued on its own fun, ingenious little path. It was gold.

SuperBeast however was a little different. Unlike its predecessor it was unable to establish, straight off the bat, which fairytale world we were going inhabit for the evening. Instead we were thrown into a mish-mash of stories which was slightly off putting at first and made the beginning of the show a little confusing. This little hiccup aside, everything else went according to plan and very shortly the audience was engrossed in the unique little world the actors created for themselves. In the beginning of the show the beautiful but overly precious (not to mention precocious) Princess Alicia, her servant Agatha, and their hilarious man-in-an-outfit pantomime horse get kidnapped by two roadside bandits armed comically with toy guns. Alicia forces the two bandits to listen to her story before deciding on whether to kill her. These stories (along with the stories of other characters whom inhabit the fairytale world) form the backbone of the plot. SuperBeast is, to quote the Shakespearian Witch who intercedes occasionally on the audience’s behalf, “Story upon story upon story.”

Corinne Wollett plays the role of the overly difficult princess with ease and grace (ok, with ease – there is nothing graceful about Princess Alicia). Her character is fun, humorous and provides an excellent protagonist as a character whom the audience can love, hate, pity and empathise with all at the same time. Estelle Clifford plays the part of her loving and dutiful servant beautifully well and highly believably, and has a wonderfully understated gallant quality to her. She also doubles as Alicia’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother which she also performs well. The two brutes are played by Brian Gibb and Alex Ness respectively and represent the more overtly comic side of the cast. Their characters are a disorganized mix of freedom fighter, idealists, opportunists and dim-witted brothers (think along the lines of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee). As brothers, these two (although they could not look more different) have a chemistry that just works. As the Witch, Jean Seargent is excellent. She is lofty and darkly comic and the only character that, like the audience, really clues onto what is happening throughout the story. In a number of supporting roles Tim Williams, Sarah Silver and Heleyni Pratley all perform admirably.

The pace of the show is fast and it is studded by both obvious and subtle silent chuckles that occasionally, and very unfortunately, went unnoticed due to the fact that from start to finish the show was non-stop. The speed of delivery was punctuated by the most amazingly gentle plea for understanding in the form of a soliloquy by Eleanor Bishop performing as the two brothers’ mother. It delivered the political and emotional punch that the show needed by showing how her boys were alienated from their land and father by those with much more power and forced into a life of opposition. It was shown as a timeless story and its similarities with the plight of the Palestinian nation in particular was, although unspoken, very audible.

The play ended with the same sort of force of farce with which the show began. However much I am tempted, I will not give it away (the trilogy is being re-performed in full later this year – go see it), but I will say it left almost everyone in the audience going “What the fuck?” and not knowing whether to cry or laugh.

Written and Directed by Sarah Delahunty
BATS 28 February – 4 March

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About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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