Theatre review: Like There's No Tomorrow, The Basement

By Paul Simei-Barton

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Along the way we meet a bizarre assortment of utterly believable characters. Photo / Michael Smith
Along the way we meet a bizarre assortment of utterly believable characters. Photo / Michael Smith

The interactive theatre experience is given a thorough workout in a wildly energetic production that drops us right into the throbbing heart of an illicit high school after-ball.

An intricately co-ordinated rotation has the audience split into small groups and corralled through the labyrinthine stairways of The Basement theatre for an up-close and personal introduction to the mayhem of teenage nightlife.

The tour takes in the reckless bravado of carpark pranking with a palpable demonstration of how high-spirited risk-taking can spiral into danger, and an intimate bedroom scene where amped-up teenagers try to remember the lessons from their Year 9 health class.

Along the way we meet a bizarre assortment of utterly believable characters, like a Japanese home-stay student who delivers a moving lament for the loneliness of Godzilla.

But what might have been an amusing distraction is given compelling dramatic purpose as we discover the party is haunted by the memory of a student who died a week earlier in an alcohol-fuelled moment of youthful exuberance.

In a stroke of genius, playwright Eli Kent has the collective memory of this incident embodied in a garrulous, philosophical provocateur who goads partygoers into revealing their darkest and most intimate thoughts.

With a cast of more than 30 talented young actors it would be unfair to single out individual performances. The collaborative effort is an eloquent testimony to the fruitful partnership between ATC and The Playground Collective.

As with all great parties the participants are reluctant to call time, and while the two-hour running time could be trimmed, the slow patches provide a chance to digest the significance of a deeply thought-provoking report on the agonies and ecstasies of our nation's youth.

What: Like There's No Tomorrow
Where: The Basement until August 10

- NZ Herald

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