Theatre Review: Like There's No Tomorrow
By The PlayGround Collective, presented by Auckland Theatre Company
July 27, 2013
In the digital age, interactivity is hot. If we’re not reacting on Twitter or Facebook or hasty online comments, are we really feeling? Theatre has followed suit. There has been a shift to give audiences – especially theatre aimed at gaming-literate younger audiences – a more immersive experience. The local originator of the concept is rollicking space nailbiter Apollo 13, which recently returned from a successful tour of the States. And earlier in the year, zombies invaded a makeshift venue in Aotea Square for Apocalypse Z. This time around, it’s not about space or zombies but vomit. Well, youth binge drinking actually, but that inevitably involves a lot of vomit.
Like There’s No Tomorrow takes place at a teenage party shortly after the death of gregarious Joseph, who wants to be remembered for his jump (not missing the pool and smooshing his brains on its edge). The audience is invited into the Basement’s main theatre as if guests at an illicit bash where we meet Joseph, who promptly tells us he is not a ghost but a collection of memories projected by three of his dearest – his best mate, his girlfriend and his sister. This is a smart device from writer Eli Kent and forms the basis of the play as the audience is separated into three groups, following each key character and their gang of mates as they navigate the raucous party and grapple with their grief.
Remember dancing shoes and a warm jacket. The action weaves outside and inside The Basement from carpark to toilets to stairways, with the unseen stage crew pulling off logistical mastery in keeping the movement of the three groups and 30-strong cast co-ordinated. Using the full space available, directors Eleanor Bishop and Robin Kerr have gone well beyond the usual black box format cleverly employing a car, fire and a garage door instead of a traditional theatre curtain. Keeping us moving through the show mimics the haphazard nature of a teen’s night out.
The script is based on real experiences, many of which were contributed by the cast. They do a convincing job of owning it, depicting teenage life with its unbridled excitement and crushing anxiety. The narrative push of Joseph’s story loses momentum at times, overshadowed by the exuberance of the party sections. However, those party times also offer up the most entertaining and disturbingly real moments. Freestyle rappers Lole Kata and Isaac Nonu put on a delightful impromptu show. On the darker side, audience members with a few years buffer between teenhood may find the girls’ drinking game in which they outgross each other with their sexual exploits difficult to stomach. The play has sex and swearing and fighting and lots and lots of irresponsible drinking but – let’s face it – that’s what teenagers do. The PlayGround Collective, and their supporters Auckland Theatre Company, should be congratulated for not being afraid to take us there.
Until August 10.
Photographed by Michael Smith