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Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2012
Present Company

at Bats Pit Bar, Wellington
From 22 Feb 2012 to 25 Feb 2012

Reviewed by John Smythe, 24 Feb 2012

"Don't expect to see a remake of Pulp Fiction," director Hannah K Clarke cautions in her programme note. "It's not plagurism [sic], it's homage!"

Wedged into a corner of BATS Theatre's tiny Pit Bar, bursting-with-punters, she operates the laptop that throws up titles, credits and location backdrops on the large flat screen that separates the puppeteers from the table top on which their string puppets perform.

Lovingly crafted by Jon Coddington, who is joined by James Nokise and Anya Tate-Manning, the superb puppets are instantly recognisable as Travolta, Jackson, et al. The tiny props are brilliant too.

When Tate-Manning's Honey Bunny delivers a prologue debating whether it's worth holding up (as in ribbing) this theatre bar with gags about Marty (Bats' programme manager) and Chris (Bats' business manager), I think for a moment we're in for a full-on Kiwi parody. But no, it quickly reverts to the stock schlock – and hey, it wouldn't be 'pulp' otherwise, would it?

At 6.45 on Thursday we get the first of 'The Bonnie Situation's 3 parts. [This week and next week, 3 stories play out in 3 parts on Wed ('The Gold Watch'), Thurs ('The Bonnie Situation'), Fri (Marcellus Wallis' Wife) and Sat is a mash up of highlights and requests.]

Coddington plays it relatively straight as Vincent while Nokise ad-libs so well as Jules (e.g. when a leg won't move, "I think I got a dead leg from the car ride"), that you want more things to go 'wrong'. Tate-Manning fills in all the other roles with alacrity.

Plush pink bench-seats set the diner, then, encased in a box, create the car, then furnish the apartment where Vincent and Jules may or may not be saved by a miracle.

Aficionados await the accidental shooting of Marvin in the car with high anticipation and are not disappointed. Somehow the awkwardness of some of the 'effects' just adds to the fun.

The tight team works hard beneath their relaxed exteriors.  It's a big and arguably insane task they have taken on.  But this is a homage to a cult classic that made a big impression in their teens, while creating a seismic shift in Hollywood values, and judging by the packed Pit Bar (with many turned away), there are plenty of punters of their generation and others who share their nostalgic passion. 

Get there early (it's a koha/donation show, so no bookings.)

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 Hannah Smith
 Terry MacTavish