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QUIRKY INTELLIGENCE

Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2013
SIGNFELD & FREINDZ
Written & directed by Jonny Potts
Produced by Mary Laine / Hair of the Dog Productions

at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 20 Feb 2013 to 23 Feb 2013

Reviewed by Nancy Catherine Fulford, 24 Feb 2013


This show is funny, really funny. If I was an old fashioned talent scout, I'd be congratulating myself on having found a gold mine in this company and sighting a particularly shiny nugget in the main dude. That is Jonny – as in “Hhhhheeeeeere's Jonny!” – Signfeld (Jonny Potts) our versatile host, dressed casually with his cap on back-to-front and with an unending supply of premixed drinks under the lid of his school desk.

He is an irreverent raconteur on various subjects pertaining to the New Zealand life, in the arts in particular, but specialising in theatre ‘craft' and things that have no bearing on anything in particular.

Sport for instance: Racquet ball as Americans do it; the essential nature of Badminton … But it's all in the delivery, really. Jonny's charm as a blithering ‘idi-wit' is enormous. He creates strong dramatic irony for the audience around his character and also has us alongside his efforts to find his ‘craft'; something solid he will create and hold onto for fifty years, “like Nelson Mandela or Cliff Richards.” I love it.

Jonny is the main act but he's got a straight-man and straight-woman to work against as well as a very bent AV manager named Patricia Disappointment (Uther Dean) who is very funny in his own right. ‘Patricia' brings on the media clips that I'm guessing are the work of Hair of the Dog Productions, the umbrella group that brought us Signfeld and Frendz. These are news casts or how-to sessions and I would have enjoyed greater linking between these and what is happening on stage. 

The straight woman is Jonny's sister Jerri (Morgan Bach), born glum and destined to be his helper, handing out drinks to the prize winners of the ccrumping (Jonny's spelling) competition and supervising the scrabble game several audience members are commanded to conduct. They work well as foils for each other.

The straight-man is a Dr. Russell (Sam Smith), purveyor of anti-advice, describing to us the minute details of his life coming undone, one bad decision after another. He is not a laugh a minute in the same way as Jonny but what an impressive characterisation all the same.

All in all the show could use a bit of tightening and, again, more linking, but that's nit-picking. I value the comedy for its intelligence and quirkiness and the characterisations are all excellent. I will be sure to go to any Hair of the Dog Productions in the future. 
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Comments

Uther Dean posted 27 Feb 2013, 12:58 PM / edited 27 Feb 2013, 12:00 AM
 

Thanks for coming and for the review, Nancy!

We should just clarify that Hair of the Dog productions were not the creative team behind the show but rather they are Mary Laine's rather brilliant little production company that was in charge of the logistics of putting the show on - they are the people who also bring us PSAs and the Chapman Kips. The videos were written and directed by Jonny with a lot of help from Ro Tierney. Together they make films as Cinema in Decline.