Review: Perplex takes on chaotic world with aburdist comic twist

By Paul Simei-Barton

Sam Snedden, Nic Sampson, Natalie Medlock and Kura Forrester give reality a twist.
Sam Snedden, Nic Sampson, Natalie Medlock and Kura Forrester give reality a twist.

If you've recently been troubled by a feeling that the world is plunging into a vortex of meaningless chaos, Silo's production of a German absurdist comedy will affirm your deepest anxieties.

Playwright Marius von Mayenburg takes us to a strangely familiar country where the boundary between reality and representation has been erased, where personal identity cannot be distinguished from role-playing and where the truth is whatever people say it is.

Perplex is firmly rooted in the tradition of European absurdist theatre: Narrative conventions are thrown to the wind, surreal situations are presented as if they are part of the fabric of everyday life and the actors loose themselves in ironic speculation about the existence of a supposedly unseen audience.

This kind of theatre challenges expectations but director Sophie Roberts lures us into the unfamiliar by drawing on the comedic skills of a talented four-person cast.

Kura Forrester brings an earthy belligerence to a variety of roles and seems perfectly at home throwing herself into a slanging match while dressed as a Viking warrior queen.

Natalie Medlock uses facial expression to great comic effect, most notably as she struggles to assert her identity as a volcano during a riotous Nordic Nights fancy dress party.

Nic Sampson brings the house down with a piece of physical clowning in which gathering up a slippery set of skis becomes a metaphor for the frustrations of a jilted lover.

Sam Snedden seems to relish the opportunity to take on a full-body elk costume and is equally at ease in scenes that require full frontal nudity.

The script provides plenty of opportunities for an exuberant display of Elizabeth Whiting's costumes which are neatly off-set by the stylishly bland surfaces of Daniel Williams' set.

What: Perplex
Where: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre to December 3.

- NZ Herald

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