Theatre review: Camping is a surprisingly raunchy delight

By Ethan Sills

The cast of Q Theatre's return season of Camping: Brynley Stent, Chris Parker, Thomas Sainsbury and Kura Forrester. Photo/Supplied.
The cast of Q Theatre's return season of Camping: Brynley Stent, Chris Parker, Thomas Sainsbury and Kura Forrester. Photo/Supplied.

One of the biggest problems with local television right now is that there are few opportunities for up-and-coming performers.

Outside of Funny Girls, many of the quirkier, unabashedly original ideas out there that would make for fantastic television are never given the opportunity.

If there were ever a pair of writers more deserving for a breakout telly hit, Chris Parker and Thomas Sainsbury proved it with the triumphant return of Camping on Wednesday night.

From the minds behind the Basement's holiday hit The Opening Night Before Christmas, and joined by co-stars Brynley Stent and Kura Forrester, Camping is a tribute to the likes of the Carry On films, but with a delightfully Kiwi twist that is a hoot from start to finish.

Fleur and Les Bian are a middle-aged couple looking to reconnect, while Francis and Constance Cummings are newlyweds with different views of intimacy.

When the couples find themselves stuck together at a romantic camping retreat, initial tensions eventually give way to the secret temptations they all hold.

The play was a sell-out when it premiered at the Comedy Festival last year, and within the first minutes it is easy to see why. Right from when the cast members walk on stage in their over-the-top costumes, you know it's going to be great, and as soon as they open their mouths the laughs start flowing - both from the audience and onstage.

The fact that the cast struggles to keep it together at times is a testament to the ridiculousness of Camping, and the corpsing only heightens the insanity. A duel over cocktails shows off the wickedness of the script, while an impromptu talent quest lets the cast flourish as they practically compete to throw each other off.

Camping is the sort of show that, if it was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, would've been commissioned by the BBC by now. Forrester in particular is a talent who needs a leading role immediately, showing off a penchant for embodying characters to rival Madeline Sami's Super City.

Although perhaps the show's surprising raunchy ending is one best left to the stage. The talent on display, and the unashamed vulgarity of it all, is something that deserves, and must, thrive in the loudest, boldest way possible, even if it's something the whole country deserves to see.

What: Camping
When and Where: Q Theatre, Feb 8-11, 14-16
Reviewer: Ethan Sills

- NZ Herald

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