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June 1, 2011 | by  | in Theatre |
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Idiots: Back 2 School

Do you remember watching the older kids put on ‘performances’ during assembly when you were back in school? They’d bust out some lip-synching, perhaps a bit of cross-dressing and one of them would inevitably get carried away and attempt to crowd surf on the preps. Sometimes, if we were especially lucky, a teacher would be sacrificed by their peers and pushed onstage to undergo some form of obligatory humiliation.

Idiots: Back 2 School, an “irreverent cross-section of an ordinary day” at St. Peters College, is far superior in most regards to any schoolyard skit I’ve ever been witness to and ultimately provides an hour and five minutes of entertainment. The eight scenes, directed variously by Eleanor Bishop, Kate McGill, Uther Dean, Robin Kerr, and Anya Tate-Manning, bring together a fairly comprehensive plot which reflects well on their directorial skills and Nic Sampson’s writing. The concept of having five directors and thirteen of “Wellington’s most attractive actors” work together on a project is an ambitious one and perhaps, had Idiots been given more time and attention in rehearsal, they would have produced an entirely energetic and cohesive show. As it is the eight scenes provided a little something for everyone to enjoy, laugh at and sporadically cringe through.

The sweet, subtle scene in the Music Department between Brain (Jack Shadbolt) and Sally (Melissa Reeve), directed by Eleanor Bishop, created and sustained some lovely tension while remaining light and lovely. It was Bryony Skillington’s manic, twitchy, red-blooded she-gull, however, that had me labouring with laughter in my seat. She and Simon Haren gave performances which will make me look askance at every seagull I come across in the future and question the species of everyone I text. Although for the most part I enjoyed the wonderfully energetic interaction between Ms Henderson (Jessica Robinson) and the spirit of St. Peter’s founding principal Mr Fredrik (Martyn Wood), I felt sickened by the ghost’s attempt to force the current principal to have sex with a student by way of supernaturally possessing her and was uncomfortable with the notion that it might have been intended as comic.

The worst experiences I’ve had in theatre have been productions which fail to inspire any reaction in me and the fact that Idiots provoked such a variety of responses in the audience is a great accomplishment. Ultimately, however, the stakes of the play weren’t nearly high enough to create a fully engaging piece of theatre. This criticism may be brushed aside by those who consider the Comedy Festival to be an excuse for lazy humour but this show had real potential due to the highly talented people involved and it was a shame to see such promise undermined. Half-arsed humour is all very well and good in highschool assemblies but paying audiences deserve a higher level of commitment from productions – especially those which have such brilliant potential.

Idiots: Back 2 School
Written by Nic Sampson
17 – 21 May at BATS

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  1. Frankie says:

    I guess finding useful, reliable information on the internet isn’t hopleess after all.

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