Written by Willow Newey and Kate McGill.
Directed by Larry Rew and Dawa Devereux.
Bats Theatre, April 19th to the 29th.
Imagine your worst fears have just been realised, and you are stuck in a small town New Zealand nightmare. Far from the dazzling lights of the city lies the nit and grit of suburban life. Welcome to the Ngaio branch of the “Three Circle” (get it?) supermarket chain. This is the setting for Check it Out, a play based on the lives of two checkout girls and their antics.
Brenda Lee (Willow Newey) and Geena (Kate McGill) are two such girls stuck working at the local supermarket. They have tight, awful checkout uniforms, bleached blonde hair, caked on foundation and over the top eye makeup. They don’t take their jobs seriously and find hilarity in scanning products over the counter to make it beep. Their supervisor, Leo Lemmings (Eli Kent), takes his job much too seriously and spends most of his time trying to control the uproarious behaviour of the two girls. This combined with their crazy and swinging bosses, and incestuous sexual antics amongst the entire staff meant that there was never a dull moment.
The relationship between the two girls and the banter between them kept the audience in hysterics for most of the play. Lines such as “You think an oxymoron is just an ox that’s stupid!” and the emphasis on the “Noo Ziland” accent had us cracking up and cringing at how the baser elements of our culture must appear to outsiders.
The direction was excellent, with the actors using the space to enhance the performance and keep the audience intrigued. There was always something going on in the background, whether it was the checkout girls twirling their hair and lounging around on top of the checkout or having a conversation in the staff room. Minor aspects such as set design and the awesome pop art on the walls reminiscent of Andy Warhol all combined to create a great atmosphere throughout the play where the audience felt like they were part of the events unfolding before them.
The incorporation of multimedia was brilliant, and allowed us to see what the characters were supposedly watching on the TV screen in their staff meetings. It let us view the characters in a different light and served as a means to show things like the classic supermarket training video, and some seriously inappropriate security camera footage of the dirty relationships that were going on between the staff.
With a small cast of five, the actors worked well together and engaged the audience for the duration of the play. They drew us into the action and it was this that kept us interested, even through a couple of under-developed and pointless sub-plots. This was a great effort for their opening night with the story flowing seamlessly and the actors having a blast. They hit on the right combination of melodrama, humour and outlandish behaviour to be entertaining yet engaging, and draw us into the very real drama of the lives of the characters.