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February 25, 2008 | by  | in Film |
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Familiar Strangers

An entertaining exploration of the colourful community we pass through every day, Familiar Strangers is poised to be one of the highlights of the Fringe Festival this year. Its original premise and bold execution pay off well, and the result is a fresh and lively spectacle that will win over audiences from far and wide.

Familiar Strangers doesn’t take place in a theatre or a studio, or indeed any one set location. Armed with a map and a few directions, the audience is expected to move itself through Wellington City searching for the performers. The idea is similar to last years Lovers of Central Park, also directed by James Hadley. This time around the show is connected to the cityscape of Wellington through the actual experience of its sights, sounds, motions and people. This gives the performers, acting in locations varying from a car park to a public toilet block, a realism which makes them all the more accessible to the audience.

We find quite the colourful pack of characters over our two-hour roam of the city, all reminiscent of the sorts of people we regularly see hanging about around Courtney Place. A mesmerising con-artist, a wacky old guy and a pair of European backpackers are all included in the tour. In effect, the show plays out as a series of monologues (and one dialogue). Because each has been devised independently of the others, some pieces have been rehearsed quite specifically while others leave room for improvisation. This offers the courageous audience the potential to verbally interact with the characters, asking questions and playing around. Aspects such as this really do enhance the novelty factor of the performance. Familiar Strangers has a very broad appeal, so if you’re one of those people always saying how much they’d love to get out and do something “arty” for once, then here’s your chance.

Directed by James Hadley and Rachel Lenart
Begins at Paramount from February 12 – March 1

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