VICE – Basement Theatre

Going to Auckland’s Basement Theatre is more often than not an enlightening experience. It’s a haven for the brilliant, the colourful and the weird. The latest experience on offer is VICE, a production that features writing from Thomas Sainsbury, Dan Musgrove, Benjamin Henson, and Jordan Mooney.

VICE is as challenging as it is entertaining.

The show is dissected into seven individual performances that displays human vice amongst our modern, consumption driven existence. There is a mood of discomfort from the outset as the audience are ushered upstairs by a stranger in a black morph-suit and enter the small theatre that is plastered from floor to ceiling in catalogue cut-outs.

The stage is set in stark contrast, decked out all in white as the actors stand patiently in character waiting to deliver the madness. There was not a seat left available in the small upstairs theatre. The room was a perfect size to achieve the intimate atmosphere that was integral to the production.

The first performance addresses porn addiction and its detrimental effect on our perceptions and expectations of sex. It also introduces the voyeuristic element that drives the script and transforms the room into a confession chamber, where the confessions are deep and the details range from the devious to the bizarre. Happy Meal was my favourite tale and performance, written by Benjamin Henson and performed by Sam Sneddon it characterised the underlying anxiety and fear that threatens to consume each and every one of us.

For those who do not enjoy monologue-heavy performances I would still recommend this production. The monologues are extremely well written and performed while the idle actors serve as both spectators, and participants, throughout the show. The lighting and sound act as startling cues between performances and are used sparingly enough to deliver a startling pulse-like shock through the audience.

Another original and provocative work lurking within Auckland’s thriving theatre scene. Disclaimer: this is not a show for the conservative prude as it deals with themes of incest, drug addiction and other disturbing afflictions, in other words, don’t take your parents.

Vice is on at the Basement Theatre for a limited season until 19 April, so get in quick!

Reviewed by Ben Blackman