Words Wal Reid

Success is a strange beast of a play, and one that pleasantly surprised me. I mean, I’m no theatre fanatic or musical zealot, but now and then like to partake in a bit of the dramaturgical. Kiwi playwright Stephen Sinclair’s wears a myriad of hats, his latest show Success is a precocious jab at the comedy fraternity while exploring the kindred connection between three comedian mates, Derek, Jules and their famous friend Carl.

This comedic story has mass-market appeal written all over it and like previous Sinclair outings Blowing It & the Full Monty-esque Ladies Night has franchise potential. The scene is set in the living room of two mates, comedians Derek Turnbull (Daniel Pujol) and Jules Donovan (Karlos Wrennall), both regulars on Auckland’s comedy circuit, they find out their best friend Carl Evans (Paul Roukchan) returns unexpectedly on their doorstep from a very successful tour of the USA.

Evans touted as the biggest thing since “The Flight of the Conchords”, is forced to tell them why he’s on the run and the story quickly escalates from there – drug use, call girls and a tirade of expletive-deletives all add to the authenticity of the story, without glorifying its inherent demons.

Roukchan perfectly portrays his overweight, narcissist alter-ego to a tee. His bold as brass personality giving gravitas to the role as we find out the pickle he’s in. Giant Papier Mache Boulder’s Pujol as Derek is great in tandem, the peacemaker of the trio is inadvertently knocked back by the very cynical and by the ‘rule book’ Jules, stoically played by Karlos Wrennal.

Success seems hell-bent on replicating some of that International interest that has seen favour with Sinclair’s other shows. The trio play their individual parts convincingly to the end, their unabashed personalities executed well amongst the furore of the performance, which is nicely resolved at the end.

The only quibbles I had were Wrennal’s loose lines, forgetting or tripping up is probably a thespian’s worst nightmare, I don’t know if it was nerves or not but he did make up for it later, also the small audience didn’t help for a comedy club backdrop as the crowd interaction was minimal when the guys in the club scenes.

Lets hope Success emulates some of the attention of its namesake – it’s a novel premise to an interesting story that is enjoyable from start to finish.