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February 15, 2010 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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The Immortals

Theatre

The Immortals, a short story by Martin Amis, is performed, presumably largely verbatim (presumably because I must admit that I haven’t read it in years) in BATS’ intimate Pit Bar by Daniel Slevin. It is the winding and informal monologue of a man who has lived forever. His episodic, staccato retelling of his life and attitudes acts very much as an overview of the whole of human history. He was here before us and now, trapped with the fallout of nuclear war in the body of a second-rate secondary school teacher, he can only ponder on the knowledge that he will be here after us.

Much is made of the briefness of humanity’s interaction with the world. “YOU’RE ONLY HERE TEN MINUTES!” he yells out into the impassive world, and how disproportionate an effect we have had on the world around us. It deals with this with a delicacy and muted judgement, allowing it to quickly veer past simply being another mundane environmentalist tract.

Dan Slevin is Immortal

Dan Slevin is Immortal

The Immortals is all about shifting a sense of perspective. When human lives and loves and follies are viewed through the eyes of someone who is used to watching mountains rise, they inherently become more comic than tragic. The Immortals exists to remind us of the inherent absurdities of our lives and self-centredness.

Slevin gives a wonderfully understated performance. He very much pitches it as a very strange man sharing a very strange yarn to whomever will listen over more than a few drinks. There are a few moments when this doesn’t really jive with the text, for instance, when he empathically states how he will tell no one ever of his condition. Those few moments serve to remind you of the text’s literary roots. Slevin reading the book as you enter helps too. The moments when the veracity of his account or even condition are brought slightly into question are thrilling in their perfectly pitched candidness.

Slevin is clearly a very talented and watchable performer. But there are a few mistimings, dries and misdirections that reveal him as being a little out of practice. It would be wonderful to see him do more work as a performer.

One thing that strikes you as you enter the Pit for The Immortals is how apt and interesting, if unconventional, a performance space it is. It has a verticality and warmth missing from most venues.
Director/Outside Eye Geoff Pinfield has put it all to great use.

Before you decide to go or not, it is worth considering that The Immortals is only half an hour long, but you still play standard BATS fringe rates ($16/$13/$12) to attend, which just doesn’t feel right to me, to be honest. Actually, sorry, it seems that $16 gets you a drink too. Which seems like a fair deal to me. Apologies about that.

There is much opportunity in this work to grow and certainly hope this is not the last we’ve seen of it.

The Immortals
By Martin Amis
Directed by Geoff Pinfield
With Daniel Slevin

11–27 Feb 2010
At the Pit Bar in BATS
book@bats.co.nz / 802 4175

Part of the 2010 Fringe Festival

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

Comments (2)

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  1. MDubya says:

    Re: the prices, if you elect to pay $15 you get a drink with the show. That makes it about $8 for the show, which seems most reasonable. As it’s in a bar, why not have a drink too?

  2. Uther Dean says:

    Was not aware of that, MDubya. Duly amended.

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