ATC – Polo review

At the National Party symbol that is SkyCity we watched a play that satirised core National values and the Auckland elite.

Auckland Theatre Company’s new production Polo, from Dean Parker,¬† sees the lives of nine people intertwine in a scandalous and witty story that ultimately sends the message that Aucklander’s should come together and embrace our similarities, not our differences.

The story is set around the annual Clevedon Polo event that sees fashionistas, politicians, fancy pants rich folk and international polo players get up to all sorts of shenanigans.

Lisa Chappell plays Gillian Hancock, a National politician. She’s a staunch and well meaning women who, like us all, has to balance the pressures of her work and personal problems. Chappell is wonderful throughout as she gallops¬† through her witty lines. I enjoyed her going full ‘Ab Fab Patsy’ in the second half making for a very fun performance. Her husband Mungo, played by Adam Gardiner, is not the straight-laced clean-cut businessmen she’s like him to be and he’s certainly got a few skeletons in his closet. Gardiner has fun with the part as Mungo inevitably and quickly descends into a classic middle-class soap opera character.

Gluing proceedings together was Sally Hunt, played with relentless comedic energy by JJ Fong. A well-meaning PR sort that people generally like to underestimate. She’s got her own agenda is isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. More great female comedic performances come from Katrina Wesseling as spoilt but enlightened Annabel, and Kalyani Nagarajan as her polar opposite Amber.

Gathering a fair chunk of the laughs, and sporting an at times overly charactured accent, is Harry McNaughton as South African Polo star Jaap Du Plessis, AKA Jaapie. Lots of fun is had with his character and McNaughton delivers with confidence.

A slick and clean set design works fantastically well enabling more focus on the actors and their dialogue. It took me a while to get into the characters and the dialogue pace of the show, some of the jokes felt a little too delivered, but as the story unfolded so did the laughs and ultimately is was a fun and wicked ride. Expect binge drinking, gossip, scandal, fall outs and sexy secrets.

Polo is on at SkyCity Theatre until 28 February.

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