Theatre review: Sin, Q Theatre

By Paul Simei-Barton

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Actor Chris Tempest was a standout. Photo / Jose Alberto de Hoyos
Actor Chris Tempest was a standout. Photo / Jose Alberto de Hoyos

Outfit Theatre has established a strong reputation for edgy, high-energy, ensemble work usually performed in studio-style venues.

Stepping up to a full-length show at Q's Rangitara auditorium highlights the strengths and exposes the pitfalls of the company's method of devising drama from actors' improvisations.

The talented cast of 14 throw themselves into the enterprise with plenty of verve and emotional honesty and there is a wildly anarchic quality to a storyline that throws up a menagerie of quirky characters.

But without the guiding hand of a writer, the show lacks a clear sense of purpose and struggles to find a resolution as it stretches towards a running time of 2 hours 40 minutes (including an interval).

Improvisation tends to follow a pattern of building towards an intensification of conflict and the play concludes with actors taking it in turns to present a succession of explosively charged emotional climaxes.

The more engaging moments come from low-key encounters that employ a subtle sense of irony and some very sharp one-liners. There is an attractive realism in simple slice-of-life vignettes that show call-centre workers lacing their conversation with sexual innuendo or a despondent male receiving some blunt counselling from a stranger as he deals with the humiliation of being stood up.

The more compelling characters are delightfully loathsome, with Nicole Jorgensen creating an excruciatingly convincing portrait of a self-obsessed glamour queen, while Chris Tempest captures the vanity of a thoroughly obnoxious entrepreneur.

The seven deadly sins theme is approached in a contemporary mode that undermines the traditional understanding of sin as transgression from an accepted moral code.

In the casual indifference of our anything-goes world, the production is able to present sex and nudity without any hint of sensationalism and though the characters are untroubled by sin, they are acutely sensitive to being judged for who they are.

What: Sin
Where: Q Theatre, until Saturday

- NZ Herald

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