Review: Visceral tale a rousing wake up for humanity

By Dionne Christian

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ACB with Honora Lee. Photo / Tabitha Arthur
ACB with Honora Lee. Photo / Tabitha Arthur

It's a dog-eat-dog world in this uncompromising reworking of John Gay's 1728 The Beggar's Opera. It is visceral, loud and militant in its demands for us all to sit up, take notice and ask ourselves what the hell is the world coming to and, more importantly, what role do we play in it?

English theatre company Kneehigh has taken its inspiration from the likes of movie-makers Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch.

The result is a tale of corporate conspiracy, hit men and women and the slide of civilisation played large by a uniformly excellent cast.

Composer and musical director Charles Hazlewood combines electro, disco, new wave, grime, noir, hip hop, trip hop, punk, ska and classics to create "a cacophony of infectious ditties". Coupled with a live band and cast members also playing instruments, such as Lucy Rivers (Widow Goodman) on violin, it makes for an explosive mix.

The night after Dead Dog, I took my 6-year-old to see an altogether quieter but just as wonderful show, Jane Waddell's adaptation of Kate De Goldi's book The ACB with Honora Lee.

It's whimsical tale about 9-year-old Perry and her relationship with her eccentric gran, Honora Lee, who's living with dementia in a rest home.

Waddell has created a poignant and very human play with gentle humour which appeals to young and old alike and Lauren Gibson as Perry is delightful.

What: Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs): A New Beggar's Opera

Where and when: NZ Festival, Opera House, Wellington until March 2

What: The ACB with Honora Lee

Where and when: NZ Festival, Circa Theatre, until March 20

- NZ Herald

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