The Complete History of Palmerston North - Abridged
Written and directed by Gregory Cooper
Tuesday, July 27
Reviewed by Damian Thorne
Having been bumped from opening night, we happily arrived for Centrepoint's latest at the slightly earlier time of 6.30pm. Secretly pleased at being home by my usual bedtime, racing a review through to my editor, my expectations were high, despite this piece being written by the guy who thrust Mamil upon us.
Councillor Rachel Bowen suggested the wording "significant funding" for Gregory Cooper's The Complete History of Palmerston North - Abridged came from PNCC through its arts initiative fund, so not only was I in place as a reviewer, I felt obliged as somebody who lives with a ratepayer to see exactly where this money had been spent.
It was exciting to see the Centrepoint stage taken back to bare bones, with a useful minimalist set design by Tony De Goldi. We would learn very quickly that the beauty in this offering wasn't the frigid temperature in the theatre, or the glue-bubbled photography pieces, or even the odd array of brilliantly dreadful costumes.
It was the performers, the performers, and the performers. I cannot ever not warm to Kane Parsons, his family deserves a chapter in this Palmy saga all to themselves, but he always has a splendour about him, and is never shy to share his talent, and there is so very much of that cleverness on show tonight.
Joined by Regan Taylor, who absolutely pulls a blinder spouting facts and figures, figurines and mouth guards, with so much energy he is an exciting whirlwind to behold from the front row.
I'm a stranger to the work of Jess Loudon, but I find myself fanboying like a stranger in the back room of a Dungeons and Dragons performance, excited to discover somebody different, and marvelling at her diction and the genuine sparkle in her eye.
The trio are so watchable our small Tuesday night crowd give them as much as they give us, and as they start to unencumber themselves of dates and data about our fair city, even the room seems to warm up.
So here's a non-abridged montage of the main points, without ruining what is mostly fact, or spoiling the big finale: Palmy has a reputation for being a bit shit; there's a very nice piece from Regan about the whakapapa concept of time (I learnt something); there's a Richard Mays joke, which had me bellowing like the man himself would have wanted; Centrepoint started in 1974; Kane dresses in a Scooby-Doo costume to depict some great Danes; the Abba number needed sharpening up; joke about Ada Street, check.
We had fart humour; sexual innuendo with a hose pipe; an unflattering portrayal of Brian Elwood; a lot of Grand Designs joking about our brutalist architecture; good mention of the fabulous Mina McKenzie; Mark Bell-Booth the tree hugger; Kane dressed as a cow.
I'm often cast as the stern one in the front row of these shows. Well tonight it was impossible not to get marionette lines from all the smiling as I fell very much in like with a show about the city with most of the advantages, and less of the disadvantages, of bigger cities, performed by three extraordinary talents.
The Complete History runs until August 22.