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February 11, 2009 | by  | in Arts Theatre | [ssba]

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring


There is no reason to not see The Intricate Art of Actually Caring. It is worth skipping work, it is worth ditching friends, it’s worth breaking out of prison. It is amazing. It is profoundly good. If you like theatre, you have to see it. You have to see it the way you have to breathe.

The Intricate Art is the simultaneous maturing of a group of theatre makers from producing semi-pro pieces of plays to making works of art as total and complete. Director Eleanor Bishop (who’s Cleansed last year at 77 Fairlie Tce was a debut work of profound force and worth), Writer tiaoacEli Kent (who’s Rubber Turkey in the comedy festival last year balanced its flaws with its promise, promise that more than pays off here) and Actor Jack Shadbolt here all matured at the same moment within this piece.

Kent’s script is literate and witty. It shines with intellengence, its characters (Eli and Jack played by Eli and Jack though the similarities, at least superficial ones, end there) are fully formed and exist totally infront of your eyes. Bishop’s direction takes full advantage of the space – Eli’s bedroom – not resorting to easy, lazy minimalism but abstracting this most domestic of spaces it becomes the road as Eli and Jack road trip their way to James K. Baxter’s grave after the death of a friend and many other places on the way. The design by Erin Banks is subtle are artful as is the lighting by Rachel Marlow.

tiaoac2This is not to say that Intricate Art is without flaws. There is first the overly portentous and self-important title. That may seem pedantic to note, but before you see a show the title is the greatest signifyier you have of content and Intricate Art does little more than under sell itself with its title. Second, a very good argument could be made that it does not rise far enough past the now standard theatrical narrative of white twenty-something males complain about how middleclass they are and how much sex they have and drugs they take and then they learn to reassert their masculinity through violence. Admittedly, the play seems aware of this and puts some twists on it but is that really enough when this story has been so totally told? But really, these complaints are weaksauce when considered against the success of the rest of the production.

Oh, do see it. Do.

The Intricate Art of Actually Caring
Written by Eli Kent.
Directed by Eleanor Bishop.
with Eli Kent and Jack Shadbolt.

In Eli’s Bedroom.
10 – 28 February 2009

In the 2009 Wellington Fringe Festival.


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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