In front of a packed house of 150 in the Basement Theatre, Read My Lips is a clever mix of media blended into a theatre show unlike one I’ve seen before. Dancing, painting, paint fights and even an overhead projector all play a part, woven together by Ashleigh Hook, Shelley Waddams and Monari Flaepeau amidst a tale of three friends – Eden, Leanne and Val – adapting to the fact that Val has lost her hearing.
Everyday activities are thrown into a whole new light as Eden and Leanne try to carry on their life of pizza, boys, personal security and pumping Spice Girls tunes, all the while learning a whole new language and culture, which Val is now part of. The mix of music, signing and action all take part in a simple set that is by turns Val’s flat and a nightclub.
This could easily have fallen to become a dry lesson in signing but instead, the tale of friends adapting, and some failing, to new circumstances, is a fun, laugh-filled and poignant tale told with bouncing energy as all three take a turn to the fore. The competitive attempts to learn new words and occasional wringing of tired hands all serve to show how the worlds of those with and without hearing can blend but also where the differences lie.
In a close environment, the Basement Theatre is a great venue for drawing you into the action, and in a fast 45 minutes, Read My Lips leaves you smiling, thinking and probably having learned a thing or two.
The cast and production team have cleverly brought together motion, music and some cutting dialogue to tell a new tale of how friendship can and will bridge any divide, except perhaps the all too common failure to remember the small promises that have been made between friends!
The cast nimbly skip between the two worlds and all inhabit their characters with a zest and sense of fun, each clearly drawn and with a real sense of friendship binding them together.
Catch this show on at The Basement until 27th July, you’ll be engaged, enlightened and highly entertained.
In Read My Lips, The Embers Collective has created a lively, fun piece that celebrates one of NZ’s official languages, while showing how friendship can bridge any divide.
Reviewed by Mike Hales.