LIVELY WHEELER’S LUCK TURNS AT FULL THROTTLE
by Nigel Collins, Toby Leach & Damon Andrews
performed by Long Cloud Youth Theatre
presented by Whitireia New Zealand
at WHITIREIA THEATRE - return season, Wellington
From 4 Dec 2012 to 7 Dec 2012
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 6 Dec 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post
You have until this Saturday to see this gloriously funny production of Wheeler's Luck, which was originally a comic tour de force back in 2002 for Nigel Collins and Toby Leach.
The End of the Golden Weather and Toa Fraser's No 2 have been transformed but not distorted by being filled out with more than one actor and now Wheeler's Luck has been expanded from two actors playing fifty roles between them to twelve actors playing the forty-nine characters of a remote coastal town and one outsider, a slick Auckland developer who wants to turn the rural backwater into another Queenstown.
In Aaron Cortesi's inventive comic production it becomes a mixture of Marx Brothers farce at full throttle and what appears to be inspired improvisation.
It is, of course, meticulously planned and choreographed and the highly talented and uninhibited cast excel with spot on timing, exhilarating energy and the creation of some marvellously wacky characterisations from the hayseed chicken farmer with a penchant for dynamite to the overly aggressive local cop who wears to work a police cap, shorts, and gumboots.
The climactic helter-skelter horse race between the city slicker and Murray, the postie and defender of the town, is played at a furious pace back and forth across the stage, though they are given moments of respite when the race is seen in shadow play, which is a feature of the production right from the start.
There are flashbacks to the 1880s telling us the local legend and how the annual horse race came about. It is staged as a shadow play but the Victorian melodrama characters keep bursting through the curtains to tear a passion or two to tatters.
What is amazing about this production is that it was first seen in October for a run of only three nights and it has now been revived for four nights but it is still as fresh and spirited as it must have been on its first night in October.
It may not have anything to do with Christmas but it is perfect holiday fare for a hugely enjoyable night out.
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