Words Sarah Kidd
“Don’t for one moment think A Frickin Dangerous Space-Mas is just spoof and slapstick, not for one teeny, tiny moment dear friends.”
It’s that time of the year again, where Christmas jingles have taken supermarket speaker systems hostage, shopping malls resemble giant kindergartens and the promise of lazy days in the sun, BBQ’s and strawberry covered pavlovas await just around the corner. But more importantly, the yuletide season also brings with it Basement Theatre’s annual Christmas show, the comedy trio Frickin Dangerous comprised of Pax Assadi, James Roque and Jamaine Ross taking the helm in 2019 and delivering a production that will make your ribs ache and the cheeks on your face beg for momentary reprieve.
Set aboard the International Space Station or ISS for short (no, not ISIS) audiences are greeted by a stage design that is both clever and functional. Running down the middle of the room – the audience seated on either side – the walkway with its clean lines of orange and white immediately intimate that this is the interior hub of the spaceship; the doors at each end, a centre console and a ladder to the left of the main entrance, nestled amongst the attendees themselves, only adding to the illusion of the close confines that our astronauts must contend with.
Throw in thoughtful and well executed lighting, sound effects and the amusing use of props to provide attendees an outside view of the space station itself and you have the recipe for complete immersion. The creative team of Brad Gledhill and Rachel Marlow (Filament Eleven 11) well-deserved of a pat on the back for such sagacious use of a limited footprint. Setting complete and it is time to meet the six crew members of the ISS, played by David Correos, Carrie Green, Marianne Infante and Sam Snedden. Confused? Don’t be, the fun is only just beginning.
A voiceover by Snedden introduces all to Captain Chip, a self-absorbed and none too bright American who more than likely has a picture of himself in his quarters that he high fives each morning. While initially his character may come off as cliché, it fits well within the full spectrum of the cast, his incompetency allowing for Sampaguita – or Sam as she prefers to be called – and Hans to shine with their impressive space academy skillset.
Played by Marianne Infante, Sam is a Filipino fighting her own culture and constantly trying to avoid her Dad’s (Richard Perillo) video calls where he conveys how much he misses her; her best friend Hans (Carrie Green) a Maori of Swedish heritage both like a big brother and her main competition for the role of Captain, the promotion one that has been promised by Chip to be announced during the traditional Secret Santa. And then there is Calvin, a British scientist whose behaviour is … weird to say the least; David Correos bringing the character to life with side-splitting intensity and a (literal) streak of blue humour.
Green and Snedden also play the characters of Lindsay and Vlad; Green transforming completely with the mere removal of Hans’s beanie to become Lindsay, the Australian single mum who is beyond overqualified; a chef, a doctor, an Olympic fencing champion, her careers all accompanied by ‘a really interesting story’ of how they came to be. Worshipping her every move, Vlad, son of Russian president Vladimir Putin who wants nothing more than to move to Ibiza and become a world-renowned DJ is portrayed with a self-possession that is downright enviable; Sneddon wielding both American and Russian accents with ease, the removal of his Captain’s hat denoting the change between the two.
The first act builds our characters, delivering hilarious and sometimes heartstring tugging insights into their lives, raucous scenes such as Vlad and Lindsay’s frequent trysts leaving many audience members with tears streaming down their faces.
As if all that wasn’t enough, a sideline story is introduced, Captain Chip advising his crew that an engineer from New Zealand will be arriving soon to assist with the gyro-spectrometer which is in desperate need of repair. The Frickin Dangerous trio – obviously not satisfied with just staging a scripted play – taking it to the next level by introducing a different guest star every evening, which brings with it an element of improv that only contributes to the already chaotic hilarity. With a guest list that includes such names as David Farrier, Kura Forrester, Jack Tame and even Chlöe Swarbrick, each night is guaranteed to offer something completely different; comedian Chris Parker who was the guest star of this particular viewing, invoking some true blue kiwiana that the attendees threw themselves behind wholeheartedly.
“Raucous scenes such as Vlad and Lindsay’s frequent trysts leaving many audience members with tears streaming down their faces.”
Act two slams its foot on the accelerator, as the crew of the ISS are faced with co-worker tensions, relationship woes and slightly more seriously – the destruction of planet earth itself; Sneddon and Green coming into their own and cycling through their characters so brilliantly that jaws are left on the floor as to just how they manage to do it. In fact, when the evening closes and the actors line up to take a bow, the audience almost questions where Lindsay and Vlad are. But don’t for one moment think A Frickin Dangerous Space-Mas is just spoof and slapstick, not for one teeny, tiny moment dear friends; for interlaced throughout is brilliant satire, social commentary and references to current culture and memes that will have those in the know nodding… knowingly.
Directed by Jane Yong, A Frickin Dangerous Space-mas is kiwi comedy at its absolute, riotous, finest and the perfect show with which to welcome in some of that cheeky, Christmas cheer!
Writers: Frickin Dangerous Bro (Pax Assadi, James Roque, Jamaine Ross)
- DATE: 21 NOV – 20 DEC
- TIMES: VARIOUS TIMES
- RUNTIME: 90 MINUTES
- VENUE: THEATRE
- PRICE: $30 – $60