In Brief: Outstanding show of a kiwi Billy Elliott. Very funny, very personal, brilliantly performed. Five Stars.
Wow. This is a terrific show, and the studio is pretty small. And it’s only on till Saturday. Buy a ticket now. That’s all you need to know. If you must know a bit more about it, then read on, but you are using up valuable booking time . . .
Chris Parker presents the ‘dance of his life’, a deeply personal rite of passage story about a kiwi kid who loves ballet, performing for his friends in the good room, where the family heirlooms are kept, and the carpet is difficult to clean.
He completely inhabits his childhood self; intense feelings from joy to shame to anger to sorrow. With a blonde wig and change in physicality, he becomes the mother he remembers, who doesn’t mind, but JUST DON’T DO IT IN HERE. With another wig, the father he more felt than knew: big, masculine, and determined to make his clearly gay son fit in. Parker battles with the desire to both please him and be himself. ‘I’m not doing it’, he yells as his legs start to move when the music plays. ‘I play rugby!’ He transforms himself instantly from one character to the other, telling his story so vividly, so quickly. Parker performs with every cell in his body: big, bold, physical, sometimes ridiculous, but always truthful, and he nails every second.
This has been beautifully rehearsed, developed, and explored. The set is simple: a room with white sheets over the ‘good’ furniture. A ceramic cherub is indicated by a rolled-up scarf. Nothing distracts from the performance.
The lighting operator/designer must be congratulated for their perfect timing, too. In the first scene, Parker is under a white sheet where no one can see him. In the final one, the sheet becomes a screen on which is projected a video of his childhood self: boy Chris and man Chris dance together. It is one of the most beautiful and simple moments of theatre I have ever seen.
Parker thoroughly deserved his standing ovation: he is a very special talent, and this show deserves a much longer run in Auckland and beyond.