When: Tuesday, 14 August - Saturday, 18 August
Where: Basement, Greys Avenue, auckland
How much: $15 - $20
Sci-fi has plagued me my entire life. It is the preferred genre of choice for my mother and because she lorded over the remote control it meant my early life was filled with Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Gate, Star-Anything-Terrible. It was only natural then that the first play I’ve been invited to review was, of course, part of this genre. Free Load, I feared, was going to have to work pretty jolly hard to hold my attention for anything longer than a nanosecond and I am not the least bit ashamed to suggest that it succeeded in a fairly admirable way.
Reality in Free Load becomes a concept that is questioned and dissected as the main protagonist Jeanie (Alisha Lawrie Paul), a genius computer programmer, is driven to recreate her dead sister… or did she even have a sister in the first place? What we see are the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ intertwining and confusing themselves (and sometimes us) with one another, “like someone viewing multiple open files on a computer.”
Playwright Grae Burton has brought to the stage a clever idea that is challenging and that occasionally requires us to employ some grey matter. It is a non-linear plotline that at times was confusing as there were so many scene jumps, perhaps a directorial decision as suggested by the programme, but the script was clever and well written on the whole.
Generally the acting was good, some cast members seem to have a more natural hold of the story than others with the standout being Emanuelle Bains playing the role of Epenine, the protagonists dead?alive?real?unreal? sister. She was engaging and thoroughly watchable traversing from a robot-esque creation to a ‘real’ human convincingly.
An integral part to the telling of this tale is the lighting and sound effects which navigate the audience through the narrative and creates a technically elaborate show giving us all that you would anticipate in a futuristic, computer-driven hyper-reality. It was absolutely my highlight (pun intended) from the show. Crafty and clever work from Sam Mence and Andrew Hird.
Kudos to the director, Jane Yonge, and all involved who managed to keep me interested for a full hour and a half. I wouldn’t go as far to say I’ll be attending the next Armageddon Expo, but I will freely admit it is a show that entertained.
By Haemia Foote