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September 18, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect left me asking one big question. What went wrong? The show had a good theme that was relevant, the actors are some of Wellingtons finest and the designers, author and director are all extremely well regarded. But the show just didn’t work. At all. Both my partner and I hated it from the beginning and judging from the attrition rate at half-time we weren’t the only ones.

The set was the first thing to strike me. It was basically a large rounded, ultramodernist, ultra-minimalist space onto which a key video segment was projected. This was the living room and dining area of the family home in which all the action was to take place. It just didn’t feel lived in; not even in a designer-Sunday-Magazineknow- the-photographer-is-coming-aroundfor- brunch, aspirational way – apparently by 2008 (when the play is set) we will have no positions at all. To be fair, by 2008 we will have only two possessions – a home holograph projector and forty second generation I-left-it-on-the-table-and-its-sosmall- I-need-a-magnifying-glass-to-find-it iPod. The set was sharp but just didn’t work.

Picture Perfect
centers around a family who had lost their teenage son (Nic Sampson) in a foolish accident. The father (Malcolm Murray) is a technology journalist who gets given a family holograph projector to review, and programs his dead son’s image into it. Drama ensues. To cut a brief story short, the mother (Carol Smith) becomes obsessed (in a rather unmotherly way, if you get my drift) by the possibility of recreating her son to suit her perceptions and desires and eventually comes into conflict with their daughter (Abby Marment) who has a very different perception of her brother. Finally, throw into the mix a weird, pseudo-sexual relationship between the father and the company rep (Sarah Somerville) that pervades both the real and the digital world.

Like the audience, the actors seemed bored in their characters, possibly through over-rehearsal. This was characterized by Abby Marment, who played the complex, teenage, brooding, misunderstood, gothic daughter with far too much of all the above and far too little personality. The only actor who adequately conveyed a sense of their character was Nic Samson who played Clydie, the dead son reincarnated through digital technology. His performance was fun – evolving (as the families programming skills develop) from a portrayal of the son’s form and nothing else to a ‘real boy’ with digitized feelings, memories and emotions.

I found Picture Perfect to be an extremely unimpressive production.

By Ken Duncum
Directed By Susan Wilson
Circa 9 September – 7 October

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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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