Before you read this review you should watch a minute or so of this video. It’s of a Wii game called Smooth Moves (skip to like 4:45).
Did you watch it? Did that make sense to you? No? But you’d still play it anyway because it looks fun? Yeah. That’s pretty much Six Bad Arthouse Plays, the Wii version.
Six Bad Arthouse Plays is a collection of plays (seven, in case you were confused) that are derivative piss-takes of the idea of arthouse plays. I’m sure if you Googled other reviews they’d use words like “Euro-centric”. But that’s lazy reviewing. Because the plays aren’t of the Eurotrash variety, some of them are just presented by people with European accents. There isn’t enough nudity for proper Eurotrash (though there is some)(sort of). To my ill-educated eye, the plays were a combination of British silliness and Japanese what-the-fuck just happened. I went to the play with my wife, and for most of the play, her eyebrows were three-quarters of the way up her forehead as she laughed along.
The plays are a variety of thoughtful think-pieces on Facebook, game-show presentations of the Russian kind, a list of New Zealand native birds to German and music and so on and so on. There doesn’t appear to be any linking thematic issue through all of them, except that Josh Drummond, who is part of the collective, clearly hates the world and each of these plays is a mockery of the earnestness that clearly drives him (and his team) crazy.
Except, within all the bat-shit-insanity and the ridiculousness there is a certain profundity. The issues that are pilloried mercilessly are genuine issues – ranging from feminism, to the dangers of the Internet, to banality of the young person. These are all things that are…well…shit. And in this Monty-Python-Banzai mash-up there lies a deep sense of unease that while issues are being mocked, so are we – as part of the world that is so disappointing.
Also, there is the possibility that Wellington may not be the right venue for for this play. Or the perfect venue. Because I’ve taken part in play writing competitions where the sorts of things that were so brilliantly and brutally torn apart were presented in earnestness. Some people, maybe, might miss the mockery and view it as serious. Except I think that they would still enjoy it.
If you’ve come this far through the review and haven’t quite worked out what I thought of it, it’s because this is a piece of work that is really quite hard to distil down into a meaningful review. I laughed my ass off. It was absolutely hilarious. And when one of the plays seemed like it was struggling and didn’t compare well with the others, some kind of visual non-sequitur would occur and my ass would fall off all over again.
The acting was also quite quite brilliant. Particularly the women. The ability to act well while making it look like you are acting badly is a rare skill indeed, but this group nailed it. Also, Josh Drummond has one of the most malleable faces I’ve seen and he uses and abuses that beautiful/ugly mug to perfection.
If I was going to level any criticism it would be that it felt like it may have been over-directed in parts. There were a couple of line-flubs and it seemed to throw the performers more than it should have, some flexibility of performance would, I think, fix this.
As Kim and I drove home, we tried to replay the highlights, but like a dream, you know it occurred, you know it was a great time but you’re fucked if you can exactly remember what happened.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. Get thee to Six Bad Arthouse Plays.
Six Bad Arthouse plays is on as part of the Hamilton Fringe on March 20 and 21st.
Go and see it. Fucking go.