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June 23, 2011 | by  | in Theatre |
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If you feel that you totally missed all the hype and advertising for Skoolnite, showing at BATS last week for four nights only, then you’re still one up on the reviewer who ended up at the wrong show. Skoolnite was so underground that it proved nearly impossible to find. Five minutes into Fuddy Meers, my friend and I turned to each other, shaking our heads and mouthing the words “this is not Skoolnite”. The following evening, gin in hand, we perched awkwardly atop stools in the Pit Bar to enjoy a half hour of hilarious talk show satire. Whilst neither epicly thought-provoking nor morally challenging, Skoolnite proved to be a cut above your average Thursday night sitcom.

This crafty piss-take of New Zealand celebrity culture was in the vein of such ‘reality TV’ shows as Kath and Kim and Summer Heights High. The actors were courageous to perform in such an intimate setting, with no stage and no differentiation in lighting, where they could clearly see every face in the audience. The tiny space available to the actors at one end of the bar meant the action was limited. The actors’ ability to retain the audience’s attention almost exclusively through dialogue attests to their talent.
Paul Waggott, previously of DOG SEES GOD fame, captured the essence of a goofy children’s talk show host, and Jonny Potts, starring as special guest Richie Richardson, took self-absorbed celebrity to a whole new level. They weren’t afraid to let fly with a mix of somewhat obscure pop-culture references (anyone remember Carly Binding?) and nerdy Hamlet allusions, appealing to a range of tastes in the audience.
Clips of Medical Street, their version of the nation’s most loved/hated prime time soap opera, were a treat to watch on the TV screen that they incorporated into the act. The repetitious moral message (smoking is so not cool) and the iTunes advertising gave the show a wonderfully post-modern feel.

The “pay what you think it was worth” casualness of the show added to its charm. Let’s hope that the audience paid generously so that we get to see these great actors on stage again sometime soon.

By Jonny Potts
6 – 9 April at BATS

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