What:

Menagerie a Trois

Where:

Theatre HB, Playhouse Theatre, Hastings St, Hastings.

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When:

July 20 to 29, 7.30pm.

Reviewed by:

Keith Russell.

Derived from the French, the word menagerie is often used to describe a collection of unusual animals and Theatre HB's mid-winter production of three one act plays certainly lives up to this meaning, a more diverse collection you would not find.

A Dog's Life, written by English playwright Pam Valentine, thoughtfully brought to life by director Sandra Alsleben, gives an insight into the humour and pathos of life in a dog shelter, of love and loyalty as told by the canines themselves when a human calls looking to adopt.

Ross Kennedy gave a tear jerking portrayal of love and loyalty and Jack Garvey brought to life a food obsessed puppy with much to learn.

Bobbie Seymour highlighted our preconception of a spoilt diva, while Gerard Cook cleverly expressed our antagonism towards domineering individuals.

The second offering would definitely rate as the most unusual selection of the evening. Threatened Panda Fights Back by New Zealand playwright Rex McGregor is so far out in left field that I would rate it as one of the most "in" shows I have ever seen.

Totally weird, defiantly risqué, director Cam Lithgow succeeds brilliantly by just letting it flow. I felt we were watching a rehearsal that might take place as actors try to experiment to see what works and what doesn't, just plain silly fun.

Ali Beal, Peter Berry, Jack Garvey, Nathalie Van Egten are to be congratulated for their stage energy and passion as they unfolded their stories.

New Zealand playwright Fiona Farrell's Chook Chook is well known to one-act play festivals and director Ali Beal will delight you with a hilarious look at life in a battery hen house, as told by four hens dealing with the issues of confinement and production.

Wendy Beauchamp brought her older cynical character to life and was helped in her portrayal by Rachel Keith who was certainly full of revolutionary zeal.

Masie Bromfield well expressed youthful enthusiasm and Adrienne Hurley nearly convinced me that mating with a rooster is all bit of a bore.

Imaginative costumes, clever lighting, excellent sound, well projected voices, with a special set that flowed from one play to another, highlighted this production.

Fringe theatre is all about risk taking, not only commercially but also artistically, and outside of festivals is not often seen her in the Bay.

I commend Theatre HB for putting this extreme collection together for a short season. A very powerful evening of theatrical seduction awaits you and as you leave loving, or maybe hating, an offering I can guarantee that they will all stay in your mind long after you arrive home.