For years now, Chris Parker and Tom Sainsbury have forged a career for themselves as New Zealand's most irreverent, outlandish, and consistently entertaining playwrights. Their comedic, genre-bending works never fail to impress, from the deranged sexual awakening of Camping to the caustic infighting of The Opening Night Before Christmas.
The pair is back for another Comedy Festival, carrying on their queer-punned titles with Mincing. The initial setting is a family-run butchery in Timaru, operated by solid southern bloke Jimini Jolly Snr (Sainsbury), with Parker as the obliviously camp Jimini Jr. The two are joined by regular collaborators Brynley Stent and Kura Forrester and Brynley Stent, as Jr's bitter twin Nicole and disloyal wife Marge-Irene respectively.
How you react to that name is the first sign of whether you will enjoy Mincing. It's constantly silly but never simple, every moment loaded with ferociously funny jokes, whether they be backhanded compliments, feminist themed cupcakes or even a raised eyebrow whipped out at the right time.
The plot revolves around three members of the Jolly family travelling the world in order to live out their dreams. The storylines are more separated than some of Parker and Sainsbury's past work, with the characters splitting off on their own journeys while the cast doubles up in heavily accented cameos, but these four talented performers hold the plot together. The quartet are amongst Auckland's finest performers, and they always seem to be on their best form whenever they come together.
This time, they also get to put their dramatic skills to the test. As the Jolly family comes back together near the climax, a Shakespearean level of seriousness descends over the proceedings, a darkly comic bent that still manages to be breathtakingly funny.
The moodier, slower climax does hold it back from reaching the same heights as past works, and you do wonder if the title came before the plot given how little the butchery has to do with things. However, like the intricately detailed dream boards that the Jolly family cling to, Mincing has been elegantly crafted to over-the-top perfection so that barely a moment passes without something new and unexpected emerging to force a laugh from you.
There are enough puns, over-the-top costumes and sly references here to sustain hours of laughter, and the fact something this ridiculous can feel so smooth is a testament to all the talent involved. The Jolly family reunion is one you don't want to miss – just don't eat the cupcakes.
Where: Basement Theatre, until May 11