There are not many theatre productions that can both completely repulse yet still entertain. After watching this very controversial black comedy, I felt perplexed and torn – there were parts I did honestly enjoy but there were also other bits which were genuinely quite traumatizing.
Janeece Gunton: Herstory by Pandora Productions paints an extremely graphic and exaggerated picture of who many would consider the ultimate lowlife in New Zealand society. Janeece is vulgar, devious and an all round despicable human being. Everything she does is for her own personal gain and there is absolutely nothing that she won’t do to get what she wants. This self-serving quality is a central theme in the narrative and is the catalyst to many of the events that unfold.
The story is told candidly by Janeece herself who is portrayed with remarkable believability by Yvette Parsons. The Fourth Wall is absent as she converses with the audience directly, sharing her cunning and fraudulent plans with us. The rest of the cast put on credible performances as well, in particular Andrew Ford as the creepy WINZ fraud officer with the very disturbing sexual fantasies.
Janeece’s crude and larger than life personality is a lot to take in and the same can be said of the dynamic set design. The performance space is incredibly well thought out – not only does the disordered surroundings greatly enhance the story but it also is an extension of Janeece, giving her character more depth and providing us with even more insight in to the kind of life she leads.
Personally it was a little too bawdy and gross for my liking but I can certainly appreciate that that is the point and in that sense, this production has hit the nail on the head. It is highly irreverent, extremely crass and above all it is not afraid to challenge the boundaries of theatre; there are things that you will witness that will make you gasp, cringe and wish you could unsee.
Janeece Gunton: Herstory is an assault to the senses and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. But if you’re up for some vile and unabashedly bad taste theatre done brilliantly, you will not go wrong with this show.
The Whimsical Banana rates Janeece Gunton: Herstory: 3/5 organic bananas!
Janeece Gunton: Herstory is at the shiny newly refurbished Basement Theatre until June 29th. Click here for tickets.