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Love Puke

Jules van Cruysen



By Duncan Sarkies
Directed by Lyndee Jane Rutherford
Bats 11 – 22 July
(Girl) I want to hold him
(Boy) I want to sleep with her
(Girl) I want to kiss him
(Boy) I want to sleep with her
(Girl) I want to have his babies
(Boy) I want to sleep with her
(Girl) 3 children, 2 girls and a little boy
(Boy) I want to sleep with her
Love Puke is a marvelously cheeky little play. It looks at how we, as young New Zealanders, make love and have relationships, telling a story through the eyes of eight characters. It is an enlightening experience. The play presents love as a sort of competition: with arguments, mind-games and sex being the central events and the characters as contestants are all judged through these different hurdles.
The play is extremely stereotyped, and this drives much of the humoir (the rest is reliant on Sarkies’ characteristic dark, uncomfortable, off-the-wall brand of comedy), but like all powerful stereotypes there is a glimmer of truth, and an important message about us behind it. The characters and the relationships they engage in are portrayed in these terms. With characters we see everything from narcissistic players and naughty good girls through to the ultra-conservative, socially inept but kindhearted dweebs. Everything from the onenight- stand that goes on too long through the gambit of the I love you/I want to fuck you dichotomy is illustrated ahead of that beautiful (if completely sickening) concept of true love.
The stereotyped nature of the play flows on to the performance, rather than presenting an actual argument (for example) and rather than putting the characters through the motions Love Puke has the characters state what they are doing and how they do it. This is done with a system of large white cards with various words printed on them. Take the sex cards for example: they break the act down into whether the participant came first, second or third, did not finish, or did not participate. Only in true love we are told can you come first equal. Needless to say, it is devastatingly funny.
The story is told from the perspective of Glen (played by Kenny King), a singleton who is extremely cynical about the whole love thing and boarders on misanthropic. Glen is the mouthpiece for Sarkies’ commentary on the subject of love, and from here he introduces the other characters; sickened and disgusted by their various shades of lust and love. The play is cast wonderfully, with each actor extremely comfortable in their various positions. My highlight was the most neglected character, Hermione (played by Kate O’Rourke), a poet who occasionally intercedes on the play and delivers a line of her poetry about poo. Like Glen she refuses to participate but otherwise she is an enigma. Unfortunately I found the conclusion of the play extremely unsatisfying. For no apparent reason either Sarkies or Rutherford deigned it appropriate for the cast to sing corny love songs to conclude the show. It was odd and extremely offputting.
The facilitators of The Man Bank would be proud.