Hiding In Your Cupboard

Hiding In Your Cupboard
Banksy's desecration of the Palestinian wall

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Romeo And Juliet and Showgirls - every English rugby players favourite haunt

Click on title for related story.

It’s not every day the missus suggests ogling Oceania’s finest from a shadowy corner of Showgirls. But then again it’s not every day that I take her to the ballet. It seemed a fair exchange.

Strip clubs usually fill me with a clammy fear. As if my mother and a whole procession of former teachers will see me enter and reveal me to be drunken pervert.

Walking in with your girlfriend though alleviates that problem; suddenly having some platinum blonde’s derriere waft in front of my face is pretty cool. Hell, it may even be socially acceptable, it’s probably something I can mention to my grandmother at Christmas nowadays.

I am here for the dancing I remind myself. A purely cerebral affair I note, as a leering buffoon steps drunkenly on my foot.

The cheering, star-crossed, morons inside Showgirls resembled Shakespeare’s ‘groundlings’ (Elizabethan peasants in the cheap-seats who came for Shakespeare’s more comic moments), especially self-confessed regular, city boy Dave who urged the crowd to “big it up for Showgirls”.

It was quite a different crowd at the New Zealand Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet at the EDGE Theatre, though in some ways no more engaging. A well-spoken lady unfairly berated the usher for letting in a couple of latecomers during the opening fight scene. Really madam, was your view that impinged?

The first act was nearly as exciting as Oceania contender Nicki’s flaming shaving foam trick. A pint-sized Mercutio snaps, crackles and pops his way across the stage, an engaging mix of arrogance, coquetry and tragic fool. Romeo is a wistful, hormone-filled, flirt – primed to fall passionately in love with the first girl that grabs his attention.

Romeo and Juliet is about doom and pre-destined fate. Tracy Grant Lord’s set portrays this excellently. Dark greys and blood reds are lit by a portentous moon which looms like the sword of Damocles over the stage.

Meanwhile back at Showgirls, Kylie takes the stage. Her dance is a homage to Baywatch, complete with shower scene. Despite struggling with her life saving ring and banging into her surfboard she is so far the hot favourite for the opportunity to represent New Zealand in the finals in Australia.

And then there is a break. The showgirls break sees two of the clubs exotic dancers take the stage offering gartered legs to money waving blokes. Incidentally, my lemonade cost four bucks and my change came in the form of a dollar note only to be used for tipping strippers.

The interval at the Edge is a more sophisticated affair, if of course you like the theatre tradition of queuing fifteen minutes for a drink that you then have to consume in two minutes. I can’t stress my dislike of intervals enough – they break the magic.

A disgruntled boyfriend sneaks outside for a cigarette telling a mate on his cell phone that it’s “not his cup of tea.” A woman in the toilet queue complains that the beginning was too “fighty”.
There are several scenes that really work in this production of Romeo and Juliet. The ‘fight’ scenes are excellent as is the dance where Romeo first meets Juliet – the high point of Prokofiev’s foreboding score.

Mercutio is portrayed with just the right measures of loyal friend and pompous fool. His dancing duels with the bullying Tybalt are full of Baz Luhrmann and the fights of martial arts legends.
Other scenes are slightly awkward. When Romeo and Juliet are married in secret the priest joins in their dance in a disturbing triumvirate that just looks and feels plain wrong.

The tragic ending is rushed and consequently the pathos is not sufficiently eeked out. I want to be an emotional wreck at the end of Romeo and Juliet – instead I went to the supermarket.

There was no such problem with the ending of Showgirls. Malaina, who had rushed from a job as a naked human platter to be the night’s final contestant, paraded down the stage as a sexy secretary. She actually had a sense of eroticism and won hands down, or knickers down as they say round here.

Romeo and Juliet is about passion over-riding the brain and Miss Oceania is about lust doing the same thing – it really just depends which is your cup of tea.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Tsvangirai's actions are humane not cowardly

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been criticised in some quarters for not having the guts to carry on in the struggle for power in Zimbabwe.

It is exactly this decision that contrasts him from despots such as Mugabe. His respect for humanity and human life distinguishes him from leaders for whom power is everything.

He may not be fighting fire with fire but he is fighting fire with compassion and diplomacy.