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May 12, 2008 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

(Not) The All India Radio Show

Bringing you the honey straight from the beehive, this comedy festival is definitely (Not) The All India Radio Show. There’s something satisfying about coming out of a theatre knowing that what you’ve just seen was a senseless and cringeworthy yet bizarrely entertaining piece of work. Devised over two weeks by Toi Whakaari graduates and ‘community actors’, you’re set to either love or generally dislike this piece.

Four journalists from ‘(Not) The All India Radio Show’ are on the streets of Wellington snooping out the latest news and reporting it live to the audience. Leading the headlines are an assortment of oddities including the Indian superette owner cum political analyst with ambitions to enter Parliament. If his hip hop campaign video doesn’t get you then one of his wife’s excrement flavoured samosas certainly will.

Elsewhere, the gun toting principal of Wellington Central High School is causing a stir with his new security measures to prevent a Columbine-style massacre occurring at his school. Naturally, these measures include basic weapons training for all students and extremist education focusing on military strategy and terrorism tactics. On the plus side, the new courses are NCEA approved and unsupervised violence is at an all time low.

Interspersed with CSI agents investigating random crime scenes via interpretive dance, not to mention increasingly terrified reporters, this performance should be, at least, mildly entertaining. However it really fails to reach its potential. The ideas for the sketches are good, but the delivery is awkward and weak. A lot of the actors seem to be blandly reacting off some of the stronger characters and not developing any real sense or role in their own character. The result is unconvincing acting, shallow generic characters and bizarre squeaky accented voices that non-actors seem to think is how you speak when performing comedy. It takes a good knowledge of audience manipulation, good timing and a great deal of well-concealed confidence to pull off this sort of show. There were a couple of chuckles from the audience, but mostly it was ineffective as a comic piece. Having said this, for something devised in two weeks it certainly has a lot of potential. The ramblings and uncertainties which come from hastily devised performances could easily be removed with a few more rehearsals. In fact, if that’s what this group can come up with in such a minimal amount of time then I would definitely keep an eye out for other Untouchables Theatre Collective shows.

All in all I did enjoy this performance. There is something so refreshing about rough and immediate theatre. There’s also something incredibly human and heart warming about seeing people perform onstage with that shaky confidence which you get at repertory theatres and high school stages. It was a fun and relaxed show that didn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Despite its bitingly unprofessional presentation I would recommend this to anyone who likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.

(Not) The All India Radio Show
By Untouchables Theatre Collective
At Bats Theatre
May 6 – 10


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