Review: Him, Audio Foundation

By Janet McAllister

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Barnie Duncan. Photo / File
Barnie Duncan. Photo / File

At the beginning of this atmospheric devised one-man show, our hero (Barnie Duncan) tries to get out of bed, only to be tugged back down by his affectionate companion. But this companion is odd: it is the man's own coat stuffed full of newspaper. The man wants to be clung to, but in fact, it is the man who clings to the newspaper.

And what a suffocating amount of newspaper there is, covering walls and audience seats, and piled high on the ground. The man absorbs its print (sometimes literally, by eating it) to answer crossword clues in elaborate, Pynchonesque routines. He's fluent in helpful newspaper-ese: "take time to know your partner".

What we are seeing is not just a mad newspaper hoarder; he's loneliness personified. The weather report includes "isolated showers"; the man shares a comic moment with a Pippa Middleton cutting, and then a heart-rending one with several obituaries.

Directed by Geoff Pinfield, Duncan's strong performance never feels manipulative nor descends into bathos, and the beautiful paper objects he makes are contrasted with Beatrice's harsher crumple-and-scrape soundtrack.

The whole show feels deeply, impressively lived: a lot of deep thought has been put into its imagery, and some of the references are only a day or two old. Recommended, for $15.

What: Him
Where and when: Audio Foundation, Poynton Terrace, to March 7

- NZ Herald

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