[Chairs: Sit up and take note]
In a world of wheels, Molly is caught in place.
What’s worse is nobody in her life appears to recognise her plight, or they suppose it’s merely a short lived mind-set.
Shows like Chairs! are the explanation why the Basement is my favorite theatre in Auckland.
From the outset, it has limitations: it’s small, it may be exhausting to seek out, and god is aware of what number of instances I maintain my breath attempting to clamber up and down these stairs to the second flooring Studio.
But these limitations are part of it – it’s as a lot a artistic accomplice as a bodily house.
The lack of house breeds a particular model of creativity, a mix of no-wave and punk-ish aesthetics and/or barebones mise-en-scene that may be a match for the costlier ambitions of different areas.
Chairs! is an ideal instance of a Basement present – small in scale, huge in thematic scope.
While it’s typically humorous – any present about individuals wheeling on and offstage on workplace chairs is inherently silly- Chairs! is way darker in intent.
At its coronary heart, it’s in regards to the existential dread of realising that these closest to you possibly can know the least about you.
While the present is an allegory for psychological well being, it’s a tribute to the purity of the weird conceit that its utility is broader. I discovered it unimaginable to observe Chairs! with out equating the heroine’s disaster to the way in which individuals minimise or ignore disabilities.
Directed by Jessica Bennett, Chairs! strikes at a clip, and manages to juggle its a number of tones with delicacy, balancing the pathos of Molly’s plight with the ridiculousness of Dario Kuschke’s motor-mouthed snake oil salesman, and a few efficient moments of horror.
Taking up the Basement’s principal stage house the present’s setting is generally a mix of evocative chiaroscuro lighting (designed by Joseph Noster), and spare mise-en-scene (principally chairs and home bric-a-brac) that immerses the viewers in Molly’s restricted, remoted existence.
As Molly, Brigit Kelly is, actually and figuratively, the centre of the motion. While she has just a few deadpan strains she by no means loses sight of Molly’s deep have to be seen. She grounds the viewers within the actuality of this character, giving the present a weight meaning – no matter silliness is going on round her – Molly is rarely crowded out.
The supporting solid are efficient in roles which may have felt like caricatures across the protagonist. Dario Kuschke and Laika Rountree have enjoyable as, respectively, the voice of a TV advert providing Molly an escape route, and Molly’s pal Piper (who additionally offers the musical rating for the present). Zoe Meehan is somewhat unsettling as Molly’s oblivious, smothering mom, and Danielle Nicholson provides a welcome word of humanity as Molly’s cousin Drum Bass, a would-be rapper who sees what all of the adults can’t.
Running solely an hour, Chairs! by no means looks like it’s undernourished. It boasts an financial system of narrative and sense of specificity in its depiction of its central character that provides its understated climax a way of catharsis – with out negating or simplifying the problems it’s tackling.
Chairs! performs Basement Theatre 14th to the 18th of November 2023