presented by School for Gifted Children
at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 28 Aug 2013 to 31 Aug 2013
Reviewed by Fiona McNamara, 23 Feb 2013
Corner Diary is a late-night laugh – the perfect way to chill out after dashing between Fringe shows, or to liven up your Friday night drinks.
Four performers, MC'd by the self-titled Shame Shaman, Jean Sergent, share the deepest, darkest, strangest (and in the case of this weekend's theme, straightest) moments of their past selves, by reading their own diary entries, love letters and fan mail to seventy people who have shown up to spend their Friday night revelling in some Schadenfreude.
The idea came from Seattle writer Ariel Meadow Stallings' Salon of Shame diary readings. This is the second season of Corner Diary in Wellington, and I hope there will be more. This series, for Fringe, runs over three weekends, each focusing on a different topic: ‘Love', ‘Fame' and ‘Friendship'. This first ‘Love'-themed show features the love of an eighteen-year-old girl for her boyfriend, the love of a 20-something-year-old boy for the girl he wants to be his girlfriend, the love of a twelve-year-old girl for herself and the love of a thirteen-year-old boy's self-created imaginary stalker for himself.
Cherie Jacobsen reveals her twelve-year-old dream of writing in a diary in the hope that it would be published, make her famous and “people will wonder in awe about it.” I guess, in a way, she's succeeded. Her twelve-year-self would probably have been stoked to know that people paid money to hear her words read on stage.
Freya Desmarais tells us about when she and a boy at school called Jordan declared their “unadulterated love” for one another, when Jordan had “pretty much broken up with Jo.” The high point of their relationship was when Jordan stayed at her house for a week “with a bottle of rum,” which showed “so much commitment […] When I have my first boyfriend the potential in that is endless.”
The prize for the most bizarre is a toss up between Nick Zwart and Jake Preval's contributions to the show. Jake Preval reveals that as a thirteen-year-old, he loved a girl at his school – “Lola” – so much that he was compelled to create a stalker to write him love letters to make Lola jealous. The love letters would turn up in various places, such as his locker, until he was one day snapped posting them in his own letterbox. The letters include such gems as “your hair is so soft, yet so hard” and compliments on his tight white cricket pants.
Nick Zwart reads the letters he wrote, and posted, to the girl he loves, with part one entitled “Darwin has a place for flies.” That so much of this letter is still so current makes this a hand-biting, painfully hilarious finale.
Fringe is the time to see a variety of performance forms and I can certainly recommend adding Corner Diary to your calendar. The performers are brave and the content is hilariously genuine. It will make you feel much better about the person you used to be.
A little further editing of the entries would have made the show tighter, and created some more changes in pace; I felt some of the readings went on too long. However, any criticism is easily countered by the words of one die-hard fan, who asked me afterwards, “How do you review something so perfect?”
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