Theatre Review: Well Hung at Maidment Theatre

By Janet McAllister

Bert (Simon Ferry) cops it trying to restrain Wally (Adam Gardiner) in Well Hung. Photo / Supplied
Bert (Simon Ferry) cops it trying to restrain Wally (Adam Gardiner) in Well Hung. Photo / Supplied

The sexy blonde on the promotional poster isn't on stage, but the title says it all: this is shamelessly low brow farce, and no one's pretending otherwise. It's very well produced; whether or not one thinks it's worth the Auckland Theatre Company's substantial effort is a matter of taste.

Written by the late New Zealand playwright Robert Lord, and newly edited by Stephen Sinclair of Ladies' Night fame, it's a play of comic sights rather than witty lines. Set in a small-town 1970s police station - resplendent with fluorescent tube lights, government-issue green lino and a faded portrait of the Queen - Well Hung features a kook, a cop, his wife and her lover.

They throw around a tomato-sauced pie, a bull horn, a smoke flare, a fire hose, a crutch, a bouquet, some knitting and a mop, etc. Rubbish bins get stuck on feet. Physical theatre director Ben Crowder, making his ATC main bill directing debut, choreographs good, excellently timed slapstick.

Andrew Foster's scrupulously detailed set is a marvel, showing not only the office but glimpses of the cell, the bathroom, the corridor and the broom cupboard where characters escape detection through various doors.

The actors cleverly squeeze as much comedy as they can out of the stock characters with over-the-top interpretations. Dena Kennedy quivers as the wife and declaims as the romance novelist turned abortionist. Carl Bland plays the frenzied detective as fabulously drug-addled. As the cops, Simon Ferry and Pua Magasiva are good foils. A couple of Adam Gardner's set pieces deserve their spontaneous applause.

Police may be shown as foolish and (in passing) brutal and corrupt, but this ain't no subtle Dario Fo political commentary. Given we're asked to cop an eyeful of a nice brown body, and laugh at the retard and the cripple, Well Hung is a gratuitous throwback to a "simpler" time. Some will find it refreshing.


What: Well Hung

Where and when: Maidment Theatre, to March 5

- NZ Herald

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