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May 24, 2010 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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The Nero Show

If there is one thing to be said about The Nero Show it is that it is beautiful. The design is deliciously immaculate. John Hodgkin’s set of a plush decadent palace dotted with comfy chairs, video monitors and a rather entrancing wood-fire by way of a wall-mounted TV screen exudes just the right mix of the kind of palace of you could really see yourself settling down in, and the harsh surreal falseness of a TV studio. Jen Lal’s lights are sumptously coloured, achieving just the right heady meeting between the warm-indoors and the glossy musical. This is a show that is a joy to just look at. Paul Jendan’s (who also wrote and directed it) costumes do a wonderful job of evoking just the right kind of half-remembered glamour of the past.

This being a popera (meaning there is no spoken dialogue, everything is in song), the music figures large too. Gareth Farr’s score is adorable and very well played by the live orchestra (Natalia Mann, Charles Davenport, Debbie Rawson and Fraser Bremner). The cast belt out their singing with verve and energy. Political satire you can tap your toes to.

At least, I think it was satire because, well, due to the levels of the performers’ mikes being just a notch too low to really hear clearly what they were saying/singing, the plot rather rapidly became hard to follow. I was not alone, several people sitting in the same row as me expressed similar concerns.

The Nero Show, especially when you have as much trouble following it as I and my row-mates did, quickly reveals itself to be a bit too much of a mishmash of ideas. A live TV broadcast! From Nero’s palace! In the sixties! Three cool ideas that never really seem to properly sit together.

The Nero Show is not a bad show. It is not a great show. It’s just fine. You come out of it simply aware that it is a way to have spent your time. You are not angry that said time is gone. You’re just not particularly enthralled either.

15 May – 19 June 2010 / Circa Theatre / www.circa.co.nz
wri., dir. Paul Jenden
mus. Gareth Farr
perf. Jason Chasland, Paul Harrop, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, Emma Kinane, Christina Cusiel, Joanne Hodgson and Louis Solino

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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.

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