Idiots: Back 2 School

Idiots: Back 2 School
BATS until 21st May
NZ International Comedy Festival

Lots of fun, even hysterical in places, with a large and talented cast. It appears to be angling for a sitcom pilot, which would be probably be dreadful once it had been diluted for the screen. It has five different directors (including Salient editor Uther Dean) and is structured as a series of long sketches set in St. Peter’s School for Boys (and Girls, Since 1982).

There are many things to love about the performances, including Jack Shadbolt and Melissa Reeve’s halpless nerdiness as they flirt during band practice (which culminates in his clarinet becoming jammed in her saxophone), Jessica Robinson as a frayed headmistress (who accidentally sprayed the stage with Mum’s Deodorant and very nearly got the giggles) and Bryony Skillington’s pop-eyed seagull, later inexpertly mounted by Hayden Frost (from Predicament and The Almighty Johnsons).

It must be a drag for the actors having to cool their heels backstage for most of the show (the entire cast are only assembled for the school song at the beginning and a fateful Formal at the end), and some of the actors are consequently underused, and someone’s obviously been watching The League of Gentlemen a bit too closely, but this was very entertaining and even managed to keep a large school group of teenagers in the audience engrossed… before the show their harassed teacher was standing on the staircase in the BATS foyer and shouting “You must turn your cellphones off! Look, I’m turning mine off right now! Remember, behave yourself! This is how these people make a living!”

It was also a weird evening for me as I kept bumping into people I haven’t seen in years, including the radiant Laura McQuillan, a co-survivor from Salient 2007 and one of the few people who knows the full horror of that experience, and comedy superstar Steve Wrigley and gorgeous publicity maven Brianne Kerr.

Which is quite enough namedropping for one day.

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