Crowd loved Velcro's busy comic duo but Wild Beasts too long.
Velcro City is really more of a Velcro Village. All its friendly stock characters are played by a young onesie-wearing comic duo - the intense Eli Matthewson and the versatile, goofy Hamish Parkinson - who whip between costumes, and even sets, using small Velcro tabs.
There's George, the highwaisted elderly gent who calls his snoozy wife Mavis "Mavy-Gravy" and thinks that "every problem can be solved with a letter to the editor"; the nerdy teenage swain at "Unlimited Potential High School" with school colours in Dungeons and Dragons; the lesbian couple running the vegan cafe full of poetry readings and Ovaries of Steel magazines; and the local politician who's into "fresh-ality" - "fresh" boosted with "originality".
It could be called Felt Tip City - all costumes have been lovingly drawn on cardboard - and the bus driver costume, which uses Parkinson's face on a tiny drawn body behind sliding cardboard doors, deserved its applause.
Velcro City clings to obscure motes of New Zealand pop culture: OMG, remember Rubicon's "Bruce"? Did we really want to? Slight but amusing, and at its best when the boys are ad-libbing.
Wild Beasts was a different, er, beast: a fairytale drama of two young runaways, Sam and Jelly, who meet strange creatures in the forest. The Lucinda Bennett-penned script muses about identity and memory. It has much potential and room for interpretation - Sam wears jelly shoes, is Jelly her imaginary friend? - but the production felt a little too long, static and dimly lit, at least in a hot room on a sultry Auckland night.
Still, the all-enveloping tent set was beautifully sewn by someone's mum, and the stand-out performer was Sian van Asbeck as a wonderfully beaked birdwoman and then as an energetic slobberer who repeats "home, home home ..." until it turns into "help, help help ..." "Sometimes we've got to go back [home] to see how far away it is," says Sam sagely.
Each show costs $15.
What: Fringe Festival: Velcro City, to March 2, and Wild Beasts, to March 1
Where: Basement Studio.