May 15, 2015 Theatre
The first thing you notice on walking into the Herald Theatre’s egregiously steep-banked auditorium for Live Live Cinema’s Little Shop of Horrors is the sheer quantity of stuff on the stage. It’s overwhelming and, you imagine, not necessary. You hypothesise that they can’t possibly need – to take a fractional but representative sample – a working hotplate, a packet of noodles, an angle grinder. And your hypothesis is right: they don’t need them.
The whole thing is an exercise in the unnecessary. The whole thing is, to some extent, an extended cruel joke played on the four performers who provide the voices, play all the music and produce all the sound effects while the 1960 film of Little Shop of Horrors plays silently on the big screen above them. As leading Japanese game show producers have long known, in great suffering is great pleasure.
The acting is tremendous, the musicality virtuous, the foley production ridiculous.
The film being performed has been carefully selected to require zero audience concentration, so your focus can be mostly on the madcap antics of the performers rushing as silently as possible around the stage hitting stuff, desperately throwing props at other props, cooking, grinding, pumping and popping while playing guitars, keyboards, drums and voicing all the characters.
The chances of them doing it without incident are zero.
It’s dense with incident: so dense that it’s impossible to see everything that’s going on. Sometimes you’ll hear others in the audience laugh and you’ll look over to see something or someone hitting the ground, or you’ll see the dying sparks of a grinding incident, or you’ll notice the performers smiling naughtily at each other and you’ll wish you could come back again the next night and see what you missed.
But even if you see it a second time, you’ll realise how much you missed the first time, so maybe you’ll think, ‘Just one more time to clear things up.’ You only have until May 24 to do all this, but nobody would think it a terrible decision.
Live Live Cinema – Little Shop of Horrors: Until May 24. aucklandlive.co.nz