I really do like this play. It is childish, silly and basic. There is nothing at all phenomenal about it, but is it is hugely charming and it is never boring, plus it did put a huge smile on my face. Think about it, if you add a wicked New Zealand writer like Roger Hall and his daughter Pip Hall to be commissioned by Plunket to write a play, what would happen? You would get something quite meaningful and proper for the mothers and fathers of New Zealand.
The plot is not that entertaining; however it’s basically a series of anecdotes of modern parents and the history of Plunket. Who Needs Sleep Anyway? is, in essence, about Plunket. The play is intended to be both a celebration of Kiwi parents and their little minions as well a history of Plunket on stage. It revolves around Baby P (who takes a stand-up comedy approach to the narration) and how his parents raise him. No doubt the story is developed by the usual; Nanas, Potty Training, parents seeking alone time etc.
Now the basic ingredients for this play seem incredibly boring, but the outcome is not. This play is hugely charming, with characters that are simply gold. All of them are exaggerated in performances and every now and then burst out into a song and dance number, giving it that west-end flair. This play does not dare to be bold. The lights are basic and the costumes simple. This play does not wish to be crowned a masterpiece, but that is precisely why this is such a good production. Everything in this play is humble and simple.
By Roger Hall and Pip Hall
Directed by Susan Wilson
Downstage til September 22
Peter Hambleton, who plays Baby P, will hold your hand as he guides you through his first five years and the past hundred years of Plunket. For an audience, it is very annoying when a full grown man cries like a little baby on stage, but somehow Peter keeps that annoyance factor away and also delivers a great performance, even when his diapers are getting changed. Paul McLaughlin’s vast multi-roles are also something of a spectacle. From the well dressed Truby King to a pregnant woman with a very deep voice, he is at all times fantastic. Everyone else is also spectacular with the fluidity of changing their roles, as each actor, with the exception Baby P, has more than four roles in this 85-minute play.
Sadly I cannot recommend this play to my fellow Vic students. The posters may say “A play for everyone who has ever been a baby”, but nope, that is not true. The people who will truly enjoy it are the mothers and fathers. So unless you have spawned your little minions into the world and familiar with Plunket, this play will be difficult to stomach as the modern Vic student (unless you’re one of those attached to 77FT) will think that everything in this play is childish. However, if you are a parent regardless of where in society, Who Needs Sleep Anyway? is the catharsis you have been waiting for.