Featuring in Auckland’s 2016 Pride Festival and presented by Lydia Zanetti and FCC, Puzzy opened this week at the Basement Theatre. A comical yet expressive look into stereotypes surrounding Pacific Island lesbians, the late night show is unapologetic and hysterical.
Puzzy centres on the sexual exploration of Mele (Frankie Adams), a young Samoan girl struggling to pinpoint her sexuality. This journey is complicated by Mele’s faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, with this added religious element creating even more opportunities for laughs throughout the show. Alongside Mele is her best friend, Tina Turner (Nora Aati), another eccentric Pacific Islander. The all-female cast is rounded out by Gaby Solomona and Malia ‘Ahovelo. With the exception of Adams, all three other actors take on various roles throughout Puzzy. These roles all seem rather similar for each actor, though this could be more about style than ability. This interchanging is really part of the magic of the play, as the actors grapple with not only the various tropes of homosexuality, but also stereotypes surrounding Pacific Islanders and religion. With so many complex topics in one show, it is a huge feat that Puzzy manages to treat them all with a respectful hilarity. Maybe this is because Puzzy seems to deprecate each one equally, with all themes facing equal parody.
The stylistic switching element of Puzzy is supported by the lighting and sound efforts of Marshall Bull. Black costuming and a bare stage allow for quick and easy changes, however it is the upbeat music and movements of the actors that create the most satisfying scene changes. Puzzy includes a number of bangers, both over the speakers and from the actors own mouths. Highlights of these include Aati’s short covers of ‘80s hits, as well as a quick tribute to Parris Goebel’s choreography of Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’.
Last night’s performance faced a particularly merry crowd, likely as much due to the comical content as to friends in the audience. Puzzy explores an obviously very non-conservative topic, making it definitely not a show for your more modest friends – Mele even remarks to God at one point, “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it”. Yet, ultimately Puzzy does not come across as crude or inappropriate. As well as humour being the overriding aspect in every sexual encounter, these scenes are presented not quite abstractly, but with the actors separate from each other. This technique not only minimises the vulgarity of the show, but also engages the audience in the characters gaze – creating even more amusement.
Puzzy is a contemporary piece written by debuting playwright Kiana ‘Kiki’ Rivera (feat. Victor Rodger) that is entirely worthy of the shrieks it receives. A play that left me more giggling than enlightened, Puzzy serves as a hilarious night out with friends this weekend.
Puzzy runs from now until Saturday, with tickets available here.
cred: Priscilla Northe