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February 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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I went in to AUNTY with high expectations. Winner of Best Comedy Auckland Fringe 2017, AUNTY returns to BATS after a sell-out season, “more outrageous than ever.” I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call it “outrageous” as the BATS team do, but I did have a laugh now and again. AUNTY is what you think it’s going to be, there’s ready salted chips, your cousin’s new boyfriend, and lots of family stories that should probably remain untold.

The performer, Johanna Cosgrove, knows how to hold an audience. She also wants everyone to feel at home, which she attempts to do by asking audience members to join her on stage throughout the show. Our space is her space, we are told; we are “the whānau.” And in our family, there are “no scabs, no narks, and no traitors.” Cosgrove’s character created a pretty realistic family reunion. At points I was brought back to stories my dad has told me about his family, and the memories of aunties told by old friends.

Cosgrove provided a small taste of the classic kiwi comedy, very much taking note from the Topp Twins and Billy T. And while it was funny, I wasn’t sold. It felt like pun after pun, and if you’ve not got a glass of wine in your hand, this sort of thing tends to drag on. Her jokes were funny, but they all felt like jokes, wanting a reaction each time. When I see a play, if I’m there to laugh, I don’t want these laughs to be forced my way.

The method of storytelling was enjoyable, however. Each tale rolled smoothly into the next, with later stories making comedic references to stories told earlier in the show. Cosgrove’s loose, drunkenly physicality was amusing yet underused.

I must say, the rest of the audience seemed to be having a really good time, as I frantically wrote notes in my 1B5. Perhaps it is the curse of the Theatre Student to become too critical when watching another’s theatre piece.

Nevertheless, big props to Cosgrove, because no matter how trained you are, a one person show is a big deal. Regardless of my opinion of the show’s content, she definitely pulled it off.

A good show to take your mum or dad too, or for a work outing. Provides genuine laughs and entertainment, but these laughs could also come from reruns of the Topp Twins or a Taika Waititi film in the comfort of your own home.

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