The Better Best Possible Album Party Anyone Has Ever Been Two Review
Part-Play, Part-Concert, Part-Group-Therapy, The Second Better Best Possible Album Party Anyone Has Ever Been Two (SBBPAPAHEBTT) is an attempt to try to break down (both in the analytical sense and the hip-hop sense of the phrase) what it means to be a “celebrity” in a country fundamentally uncomfortable with the concept.
More than that, though, the play is a warm, charismatic hour-and-a-half. It works best when it allows itself to exist purely as a charismatic back and forth between the performers and their audience.
SBBPAPAHEBTT is a follow up to last year’s Better Best Album Party (BBAP), and the play presents itself as a comeback tour that play’s lead characters - Deni$&TYGA, the diva alter egos of actors Kate McGill and Frith Horan.
The duo are Kath and Kim x Britney Spears. That is a somewhat risky conceit - Deni$&TYGA are at least somewhat intentionally annoying. The show is essentially a two-woman performance, and it’s very easy to see how the same characters in the wrong setting could alienate, rather than charm, the audience.
However, McGill and Horan work hard from the opening minutes of the play to build a rapport with the audience. Past lives are delved into, glow-sticks are handed out - it is honestly very effective. By the closing number, almost the entire crowd felt comfortable getting off their seats and joining the performers on stage.
Also worthy of praise is the show’s overall production value. The “Album Party” part of the title is no joke. The duo sing eleven original songs throughout the night. Each are polished and well performed, enjoyable rather than grating.
The choreography is to an equal standard. Horan and McGill have managed to recruit some of Auckland’s best high school hip-hop dancers to join them onstage. It means the “concert” parts of the show - when Deni$&TYGA get up to perform their latest banger - always feel professional and plausible.
It’s unclear what, exactly, SBBPAPAHEBTT wants to say about what it means to be a “famous” New Zealander. Deni$&TYGA are too far removed from reality to feel like a cogent comment on well-known New Zealand cultural exports in and of themselves, and the show doesn’t seem to have a cogent train of thought as to the significance of the issues they work out together while onstage.
SBBPAPAHEBTT’s real strength is that it nails each of the little parts of the performance - making sure that the audience is engaged, that their songs are good, that their dancing slick. It means that the show as a whole is consistently entertaining, which is really all anybody can want.