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August 16, 2010 | by  | in Theatre |
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Go Solo 2010

The Go Solo Season at Toi Whakaari is an annual event in which the third-year acting students perform 20-minute-long solo works. As a woman sitting next to me put it, “Go Solo is usually the cheapest and best theatre in Wellington.”

Group A

Helen GrantBasted. Grant’s solid, interesting performance of Daphne Day, has-been TV host and plastic surgery addict, doesn’t save Basted from the fact that it doesn’t really seem to develop its ideas beyond their surface meaning.

James TitoUntitled. While there is something undoubtedly worthwhile in the content explored about troubled childhoods and the universal yearning for fame, Tito’s presentation—that of just a man, a mic and a guitar—quickly becomes wearisome and self-indulgent.

Simon LearyThe Election. An interesting ‘high concept’ (a high school head boy election framing a discussion of homophobia) and an assured performance from Leary mark this out as a work that would be rewarded by expansion into a longer form work.

Meg AlexanderUntitled. Alexander spends too much time judging her character, the bolshy bar hound Karen, to let the audience really connect with her on her own terms. Also, the interesting storytelling device of karaoke is underused.

Group B

Jamie SmithUntitled. Smith’s highly impressive circus skills—he climbs across the freaking ceiling—fail to carry an uninspired and underdeveloped ‘post-apocalyptic wasteland’ setting and story.
Ivana PalezevicPromena. Palezevic’s brave decision to perform the whole piece in her mother tongue of Serbian is rather undermined by a pedestrian plot (that is entirely spelt out in the programme blurb). However, there are smattered throughout it some breathtaking images.

Michael LeotaThe In-Between Space. Leota’s dynamic use of Krump as performative device stands out although the work as a whole disappoints in its lack of development.

Jennifer MartinIvylution. A delightful and quirky performance is enhanced by a glowing (occasionally overly erratic) text which gets the audience to take joy in the pure power of imagination. Also, dinosaurs. Would be lovely to see again.

Group C

Chelsea BognudaShe Said, I Made, Done It. The rather beautiful performances in this piece about aspiration and bullying struggle with a text that at points seems to over-complicate itself for no reason, alienating the audience from the story.

Richard OsborneDickie’s Meadow. This high-energy exploration of ideas of prejudice doesn’t really live up to its promise due to a too terse running length (eight minutes when I saw it) and a failure to really unpack its ideas.

Tola NewberryPohatu. Newberry’s juxtaposition of the personal (the mundanity of plastering) with the political (the public reaction to the recent “terror raids”) is highly effective in its understatement.

Tess JamiesonUntitled. Jamieson is clearly a very talented comic performer but she spends too much time over-emphasising her point (the distorted relationship between dreams and ambition) when she could be exploring it.

Group D

Catherine WallerThe Creeps. With endlessly impressive vocal and physical dexterity, Waller channels an engrossingly disturbing cast of characters that inhabit what seems to be a nightmarish fun fair. Unforgettable. A highlight.

Robert HartleyD.R.E.G.S. Hartley paints an entertaining and in-depth portrait of self-inflicted social awkwardness. His character, Eugene, is a triumph of both performance and writing. Hope to see it return. Another highlight.

Melissa ReeveCamera Obscura. La Donna Bruno Meets the Light. An intriguing and perfectly pitched exploration of the politics of the pictorial representation of women. A jaw-dropping combo of style and substance. Completes a hat trick of highlights.

Bianca SeinafoUntitled. A very accomplished look through ideas of addiction—the use of KFC as the addictive substance is a masterstroke. Let down by some ill-judged and slightly racist humour.

Group E

Moana EteI Love You… Toru, Wha! Beautiful singing and a top notch performance hold up a needlessly flimsy plot. Also, you should not learn more about the inner workings of a character from the programme blurb than from the work itself.

Philip WardUntitled. Ward tells interesting stories and has a real charm about him. His failure to really commit to his ‘What should I do with my Solo?’ concept, however, makes the whole thing seem lazy and unfinished.

Esmée MyersCuriousity Killed the Kid. A well-shaped story dotted with a few marvellous comic set pieces—condoms as waterproof socks, for instance—distract from a lack of thematic development.

Jonathon KenyonUntitled. Kenyon’s perfectly pitched almost robotic clowning is entrancing and the only real mark that can be made against this piece is that when he finally speaks, it is not quite as interesting as you want it to be.

Go Solo 2010
dir. Sophie Roberts
in the SEEyD space at Te Whaea, 26 July – 7 August 2010

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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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  1. Edward says:

    A good and fair appraisal of the solos. For me Simon Leary was the star, but unfortunately, I missed Robert Hartley.

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