Gods steal too much of the show

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Take a bunch of squab­bling deities, lock ‘em in a room, and then in­tro­duce a cou­ple of all­too-hu­man el­e­ments who have to make an earthly de­ci­sion about their heav­enly fu­ture.

That’s the premise be­hind this quirky lo­cally writ­ten com­edy by Shivarn Ste­wart.

The Massey Univer­sity Drama So­ci­ety (MUDS) en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­braced the Cen­tre­point stage and would have gained im­mensely from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Greet­ing the au­di­ence on en­try was a dis­ci­plined pha­lanx of classically robed hu­man stat­ues, who main­tained their dig­ni­fied poses, mak­ing only sub­tle move­ment shifts, un­til ev­ery­one was seated.

That dis­ci­plined ap­proach epit­o­mised the rest of the pro­duc­tion, and was es­sen­tial given a cast of two dozen on the tra­verse stage, with di­rec­tor Ethan Burmeis­ter mak­ing ex­cel­lent use of the space.

Among the well decked-out gods of ma­jor world re­li­gions were Yah­weh aka ‘‘Chris’’ in Hawaiian shirt and jan­dals, a slinky fe­male Lu­cifer, Shiva, a chilled out Bud­dha, strik­ing Jade Em­peror, Gaia, Loki, ornery Ares, and dipso Diony­sus.

No­tably miss­ing was Is­lam’s Al­lah, any Maori or Poly­ne­sian gods - per­haps the odd­est omis­sion in a New Zealand play, or Fly­ing Spaghetti Mon­ster.

So, no in­dige­nous south­ern hemi­sphere deities, but en­ter a cou­ple of Palmy stu­dents, ar­bi­trar­ily se­lected to de­cide a mil­len­nial ques­tion about the de­gree of di­vine in­ter­ven­tion in hu­man af­fairs.

Hav­ing so many ego­cen­tric self-jus­ti­fy­ing im­mor­tals, plus Death, along with as­so­ci­ated philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sions, meant there was lit­tle room to de­velop those hu­man sto­ries.

There were hints, but the back-story of Kevin, and Michelle, did get glossed over dur­ing this novel ex­plo­ration of com­par­a­tive re­li­gions.

De­spite some clever, funky and funny ban­ter, in any talk-ori­ented piece, pace is king.

While the lines were flu­ent enough, mo­men­tum sagged in places, and quicker cue pick-ups would give this en­ter­pris­ing pro­duc­tion a lit­tle more punch.

SUP­PLIED

Matthew Schaw as Kevin and Tessa Mitchell-Anyon as Michelle in ‘‘God Aw­ful Com­pany’’.

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