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Fringe Review: Superbeast

Superbeast

Reviewed by Alison Little

Superbeast
Tues 28 February - Sat 4 March
Venue: Bats Theatre
Time: 9.30pm
$15 / $12 / $10
book@bats.co.nz, 04 802 4175

If you go down to the woods today, you'd better hope, if you're part of a small terrorist cell plotting to take a member of the royal family hostage, that you don't accidentally snare the Princess Alicia. She'll tell you tales that will mess with your head.

Superbeast layers stories within stories, as the Princess (played without any deletion of expletives by Corinne Woollett) seeks to turn the tables on her would-be abductors (Alex Ness and Brian Gibb), by explaining some local history, and prove the pointlessness of revolution. One ancestress was the princess with the pea, with a conniving queen (Estelle Clifford) and foolish prince (Tim Williams) making some nice Charles and Di allusions. Then there was the princess who found herself a little too close to the frog, a former paedophile with a predilection for princesses. Other characters have their own stories to tell, and gradually the tales turn serious.

There are a few minor missteps. The canned music is occasionally overloud, drowning out witty word play in some songs; this is especially a pity in the group musical dance sequences which are otherwise particularly well done and very funny. The witch, supposedly an old crone, is a perfectly pretty young woman, which makes her "one day you'll look like me sweetheart" line sound a little strange.

But overall, this play is as it claims in its publicity; "an outraged and outrageous black comedy of farce, fairytale and frogs". The themes are dark, as the myths of class, religion and terrorism are dissected, and the playwright deftly messes with her audience's sense of what it is all right to laugh at.

Superbeast is number two in Sarah Delahunty's Biting Myth trilogy. The prequel to this show, Eating the Wolf, played in the 2005 Fringe Festival mangled the traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hood, playing with gender politics. The final instalment, The Beanstalkers is in the process of being created.

Something to look forward to.

*************

Superbeast press release
Scoop Full Coverage: Festival 2006

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