The Basement's contribution to the Fringe Fest offers a bewildering variety of shows that are weighted towards experimental, quirky and highly personal forms of theatre.
Echolalia is an elegant devised work that draws on creator Jen McArthur's experience of working with autistic children while making use of the clowning techniques she has learnt from a number of prestigious international teachers.
The work provides an engaging opportunity to step inside the debilitating experience of autism and the gentle humour suggest that the chronic fear of social interaction represents an intensification of the fear we all carry of exposing ourselves to the judgement of others.
WHERE: Basement Theatre until 28 February
One By One is a boldly experimental piece in which director Pedro Ilgenfritz attempts to express a narrative and broad range of emotion without the use of words.
The finely choreographed action is beautifully synchronised with an impressive blues and jazz inflected soundtrack, performed live by John Ellis and Nigel Gavin.
The humour and tumultuous emotions of courtship are neatly captured by Katie Burson and Cole Jenkins who both display a mastery of the subtle art of mime but strangely the show is less successful when it adopts a funereal pace to express the kind of grief that is often considered to be beyond words.
WHAT: One by One
WHERE: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre until 2 March
With this small but effective show masquerading as an entertaining self-help seminar, Wellington's Binge Culture strengthens its reputation as one of the country's most exciting, direct and original theatre companies. The hour's theme is "how to predict and prepare for the future", which is a cue for some deplorably unsubtle environmental propaganda, but also for some amusing (and easy) all-audience participation.
Actor/convenor Joel Baxendale manages to remain professionally deadpan, and copes with curve-ball questions, even when his students are laughing at the hour's silliness.
But it's only half-ridiculous. A seminar cue card wonders when theatre will once again dominate film, but this show competes not with film but with religion, to fulfil the human desire for meaningful participatory ritual. Conceptually and experientially impressive; and you won't get better self-help, either, for $15.
WHAT: For Your Future Guidance
WHERE: Co Space at Biz Dojo, 155 Karangahape Road, until March 1