Theatre review: Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong

By Janet McAllister

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Jo Randerson as barbarian in Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong.
Jo Randerson as barbarian in Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong.

It is an odd wee portrait of a contrary barbarian, this one. National treasure Jo Randerson stomps around dressed like some sort of deranged Danish football hooligan, perhaps as a wake-up call to us to live more forcefully, to be less like observers and more like participants.

But by the end of her 55 entertaining minutes we are still only observers and she's the one energetically doing the living for us to observe.

The entrance music for the unnamed character is Slice of Heaven - this seems ironic at first, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder: this outsider is pretty awesome if self-deprecating. "I am here as a demonstration to you of another way of life.... Try not to be like me," she instructs in a "mongrel" European accent.

She says she comes from a family of losers. "We are not success... everything that is appropriate, we are not." Then it must be that fighting the "big ones picking on the little ones" is inappropriate because this is what she does, with swords even (the era is of no consequence).

Banging Cymbal is now 20 years old, and the outsider arguably has more depth now that Randerson is 42 instead of 22. We expect the young to be disruptive, but for this character to still be raging against the machine in middle age takes real commitment.

The show is loosely-woven without any particular punchline, a look inside the mind of a curious character. It is less challenging than the publicity suggests, an invitation rather than a compulsory edict to question why we shy away from life - why, in other words, we try to avoid being loud and smelly. Surprisingly mild but a short hour spent in very good company.

What: Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong
Where & when: Basement Theatre, until September 24
Reviewer: Janet McAllister

- NZ Herald

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