My Wrestle Mania

Mon 6th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Steve Hartill

at 19:43 on 6th Aug 2012

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Entering the venue in Princes Mall by the food-court, I was handed a cardboard sign that showed my allegiance to the mysterious Captain Reality, (Matt Skinny) the protagonist of the piece. The show started with a death and, as the audience was thrust into the play in media res, we had to slowly piece together the plot of the play. The main focus of the plot was that of a typical wrestling storyline, wherein the WWF was in danger of ending due to the actions of the villainous manager, Venom Nelson (also played by Matt Skinny) and the only one who could save the franchise was Captain Reality. This was all handily explained by the commentator, Butch Steele (Stan Skinny). Over this plot was the story of Martin, Captain Reality’s alias, who seems to have created the Captain Reality persona as a way of dealing with his real-life problems in working in an unsuccessful butcher’s (hence Captain Reality’s nick-name, “the Butcher”).

However, there are a number of problems that have a negative impact on the play, and distract the audience from the plot. Many of these are associated with the venue and technical issues: for instance, the one and only example of different lighting was an early blackout that plunged the audience into complete darkness - there was no middle ground between full lighting and no lighting. Another tech issue was that, to run the music, a member of the small cast has to stand by the side of the room working it during scene changes. This means that the audience is often distracted from what is happening on stage by what is happening by the side of the stage. These problems were more associated with the venue, one that doesn’t lend itself to theatre anyway.

The play has various moments of inventiveness, such as a creative use of a counter for the commentator’s entrance, the use of action figures to depict various characters in Martin’s life, and occasional moments of audience involvement. However, characters like Doctor Berrymen (Mel Donaldson) were left undeveloped and other background characters had little opportunity to make much of an impact on the story. For example, when the identity of Joe Fink (Alex Hughes), the unfortunately murdered trainer figure, was revealed, it was less dramatic than the plot seems to anticipate.

At the end of the play Martin deals with his inner demons and there is a happy denouement in the sometimes difficult to follow plot. Although the play contains entertaining moments, they were few and the cast seems almost as uncertain of where the play is going as the audience.

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Mel Melville

at 09:04 on 7th Aug 2012

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After a successful mini-quest to find the hidden venue in Princes Mall, the cast members lure you in and the scene is immediately set. The audience surrounds the actor’s space as though you were watching a ‘real’ WWF show. It is clear from the start that the audience has the opportunity to be heavily involved.

The lively host, Butch Steele (Stan Skinny), begins the show with Randy Tornado (Alex Hughes) dominating as a wrestling commentator. In this show the ring is just a small plastic table with rope around it - only large enough for one human being to stand in. Fear not, however, as the majority of the wrestlers that enter the ring are action figures. You heard it, action figures. This is an interesting idea and could be hilarious to the right audience. One liners in the show are occasionally very witty with one wrestler described as ‘no Andrex puppy.’ But other than that bizarre use of action figures, the real wrestlers enter the room in a pro wrestling fashion: flexing and growling, hollering and stretching. The entrances are strong and had the rest of the play and the audience had this level of energy throughout, this show would have been a far bigger hit.

Like the official WWF, the plot is ludicrous and stupidly entertaining yet somewhat confusing. The main character Captain Reality (Matt Skinny) is taken on a rough ride faced with psychological relapses and soon becomes Martin the butcher: the plot thickens and becomes increasingly more bewildering.

Audience participation is encouraged, but in the particular show that I saw it was not accepted. This show has great potential, however, it is for an audience that is willing to scream and are aware of the sheer foolishness of professional wrestling.

The play is a Skinny Theatre Production consisting of two brothers, Stan and Matt Skinny. With an accepting audience willing to egg on wrestlers, this show could be great.

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