There was great excitement and anticipation when I arrived at Bats, which was best exemplified by the glasses of complimentary wine being downed by most theatregoers. It’s so great to go to a show that puts on drinks and nibbles for the audience: it was like a little party (Theatre Ed – An opening night usually is). I got the feeling that the crowd was made up predominantly of supportive friends and family, all of whom seemed to be getting a little tipsy.
Being a semi-ignorant (but quite blissful) new arrival to Wellington, the only background info on the play I got was from the leaflet that was distributed. From what I gather, this was Millar’s first play and it was the second time it has been staged. This should at least indicate that the show was relatively successful the first time (Theatre Ed – That’s a little bit of an understatement). (Ed – Witty interjections are my turf Jules.) The graphics on the poster sparked my interest, even though I knew nothing about the storyline.
Walking into the theatre we were greeted by three gun toting, army pants wearing guerrilla like people frozen on the spot. On first impression they looked vaguely reminiscent of something one might find at a Soviet era Communist Party rally. Much respect to the actors involved for maintaining their stance, it was quite a long time before everyone finally settled down, and it seemed as though their director had contorted them into the most uncomfortable positions possible.
I really enjoyed the introductory scene where recent news commentary was spliced with more traditional instructions to the audience, commanding us to turn off our phones and not use flash photography. This was an appropriate metaphor for the production itself that focused on the interplay between wider ‘reality’, as illustrated by the media’s portrayal of global events, the personal reality we experience ourselves and the stark differences between them.
The idea of a piece of theatre based around the interplay between what the media shows us and how we, as individuals, experience reality was particularly inspired, and with the encroachment of the media into everyday life, also extraordinarily pertinent. Throughout the show some extremely current (take for instance the whole David Parker brouhaha, which had broken as a story only hours before), news stories were used that gave the show a sense of urgency, and more importantly immediacy.
The storyline was based around four characters; Jen, Carlie, Robbie and Curtis. We saw scenes from their lives juxtaposed with both relevant news stories and downright trivial human interest pieces. The play climaxed in the confusion of the characters as to what is both real and important in their lives, especially considering that their lives are made to look insignificant in comparison to the so-called ‘reality’ that the media attempts to impose on our society.
Characterisation was the highlight of Noisy Shadows. I was impressed by the depth that they all showed in such a short play. The actors were great and the characters were brilliantly written. Millar seems to be extremely adept at capturing aspects of the human experience: the dialogue was funny, entertaining and deep all at the same time. The characters never fell into cliché and were fresh but recognisable, which kept the play entertaining and upbeat.
I look forward to seeing more of Millar’s work and recommend this one. It is the type of show where you can either look for higher meaning or just sit back and simply enjoy the experience.
By Branwen Millar
Directed by Rachel Lenart
Bats 21 – 25 March