Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen

Promise And PromiscuityPromise and Promiscuity – the title itself immediately peaked my interest.  Directed by Ben Crowder, this fast paced Jane Austen parody provides a refreshing, revamped take on the well-known period drama Pride and Prejudice.

Touted as a new musical, I must preface that this production is so much more than just an hour of song and dance.  The well-crafted script is decidedly cheeky and dripping with irony – the witty double entendres and cleverly tweaked names (my favorite: “Fifty Shades of Argh”) bring this 19th century story to modern day, making it more easily accessible.

I was thoroughly impressed by Penny Ashton who was the woman of the hour.  She skillfully plays the entire cast, switching between each character seamlessly.  There are very minimal costume changes however this is not an issue as each character she portrays has a very distinct voice and set of mannerisms that there is never any ambiguity who she is depicting and when.

The stage feels quite cavernous with sparse props but Ashton makes full use of the performance space, moving between different locations in the story with ease and at one point she even breaks the Fourth Wall by inviting an unsuspecting audience member for an impromptu dance.  The music and sound effects provided by “Musical Maestro Par Excellence” Robbie Ellis further bring the story to life.

As with all other shows featured in the Auckland Fringe, Promise and Promiscuity is only on a very short season.  The final performance is this evening at 6pm so if you are looking for some laughs to finish your weekend, head on over to TAPAC in Western Springs!

For tickets and more information, click here.

The Whimsical Banana rates Promise and Promiscuity: 4/5 bananas!

Promise and Promiscuity is a Hot Pink production and is presented as part of the Auckland Fringe.

Auckland Fringe

One By One: A Love Story Without Words

One By OneThey say actions speak louder than words.  This is exercised to the fullest effect in One By One, a quirky and charming silent show directed by Pedro Ilgenfritz that takes place in a world where words do not yet exist.  Bonnie and Marty’s paths cross in a fortuitous encounter at a park and from that moment on their lives are changed forever.

Katie Burson and Cole Jenkins draw us in and take us along on this adventure of tragi-comic proportions where in the absence of words, exaggeration is key.  Expect lots of comical wide-eyed facial expressions, melodramatic jaunty marches up and down the stage and madcap shenanigans of the slapstick kind.  Burson and Jenkins do all of this effortlessly and with a childlike innocence that perfectly complements and serves the narrative brilliantly.

The other integral element of the show which I thought was executed extremely well was the use of live music to set the pace and tone of each scene.  Jews Brothers band musicians John Ellis and Nigel Gavin are a well-oiled machine – they fittingly employ an eclectic mix of score and sounds throughout this silent love story which I felt really added a great rhythmic pulse to the performance.  Sometimes they don’t get it quite right though and consequently they are directed by the two characters themselves which I thought was a nice touch.

Bonnie and Marty’s breaking of the Fourth Wall doesn’t stop there.  Just as they have invited us in to this playful and musical world of gestures and mime similarly they just as readily jump into ours.  Personal space may be invaded and if you’re lucky enough, you may even get to participate too.

The stage appears stark and bare with only three pieces of furniture and a set of vertical “ribbons” that cross each other to form a skeletal wall.  This inconspicuous minimalist set created by Rachel Walker and though modest is the perfect “blank canvas” for the action that unfolds.

Unfortunately One By One is only running for a very short season – there are only two more opportunities to catch this fun and whimsical homage to silent film and I strongly recommend that you do!  You will be thoroughly entertained and more importantly you will be convinced that a world could exist without spoken word.

For tickets and more information, click here.

The Whimsical Banana rates One By One: 4/5 bananas!

One By One is a production funded by LAB Theatre and is presented as part of the Auckland Fringe.

Auckland Fringe

This review is also featured on Keeping Up With NZ.