BWW Review: PETER GYNT [RECYCLED] at ASB Waterfront Theatre Auckland
Auckland Theatre Company's contribution to the Auckland Arts Festival is "Peter Gynt [recycled].
"Feverishly fascinating, provocative, witty and a clever 'wild ride'."
The tiny window of hesitation, after the final moment of a play and before the first clap, speaks volumes as the audience collectively assess and respond with a sound that can vary on a continuum of polite gratefulness to resounding passion; that moment speaks volumes.
The applause received by the cast of 'Peter Gynt [ recycled ] after the opening night performance was strong, appreciative and long; extended by an audience who had indeed been taken on a 'wild ride'. The presence of the writer, called up to the stage was appropriate. Bravo.
We may not have felt up for the challenge of everything we were offered but, we, collectively appreciated, enjoyed and I, among others, became feverishly fascinated by what we had been involved with.
Questions and themes in abundance provoked and enticed us to think harder and stay longer than comfortable for a Thursday evening.
I spent the interval in deep conversation with a stranger visiting from Melbourne and we eagerly shared our perceptions of the 'trolls' in the play. I dropped in on the snippets of conversation around me and they were also about the play. Many eyes were cast over the programme hungry for guidance or reassurance that they 'got it' and wanting to know more.
Auckland Theatre Company's Artistic Director Colin McColl could not resist the 'wild ride' that Peter Gynt offered. The original work is that of 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, who incidentally is the most performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare and known as 'the father of realism'.
McColl felt that Eli Kent was the man he required to create a new lens of this work for today's world.
Already a major voice in a new generation of theatre makers, playwright and recipient of an ATC Patrons Writers' Award, Eli Kent illuminates Ibsen's critique of self-obsession and gives it a new relevance in this modern age of social media. We were alerted to examine our willingness, both social and personal, to accept and activate our narcissistic tendencies.
The play challenges us to decide what is real, illusion, delusion and even absurd. There's plenty of well timed comedy so be sure of a good laugh. Kent's interest in the complexities of the relationship between reality and theatre features and he ponders whether the very form of theatre has ideas above it's station.
The familiarity of the distance between theatre goer and performer was absent from the very start when the central character playing the role of Kent himself addressed us directly. He literally and unexpectedly transports himself into our lives in the vehicle of meta-theatre, inviting us to heighten and challenge our levels of participation.
The unexpected kept us on full alert and our senses were provoked by a roller-coaster 'thrill and spill' dynamic throughout the piece.
The artistry of the set, costumes and technical presentations were all nothing short of stunning and all involved deserve a share of the applause.
The actors were deliciously great which is the 'usual standard' of anything produced by Auckland Theatre Company.
The first half is action packed and fast paced. I wasn't sure whether it was the length of the scenes in the second half or because I was up late for a Thursday night but this half seemed slower with each scene taking longer to make the point.
We are centre stage of our own life story and the 'truths' of our personal reality are nothing more than self-perceptions. Or are they?
If we all believe in the lie together, isn't that as good as the truth?
If you're keen to participate in the meaty thought-provoking themes and questions of this piece, download the programme and have a serious read through before you go.
Adult themes, sexual references and some use of strong language. Discretion advised.
Peter Gynt (Recycled) by Eli Kent
Auckland Theatre Company
Presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival
ASB Waterfront Theatre March 9-18th