Auckland Fringe Festival Review: …HIM

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I LOVE THE FRINGE!!!! Everything I see becomes my new favourite. And, …HIM is no exception to that. Oh it’s so clever and intense. It’s funny, and sad and unsettling and beautiful and hopeful.

I blogged about my excitement for newspapers as props the other week. Well, little did I know at the time that tonight my mind was going to be BLOWN with newspaper creativity. The walls are plastered with newspapers, as are the chairs and benches upon which people are spread throughout the room. The show starts with Barnie Duncan bursting from newspapers. He creates newspaper shoes, meatballs, wings, flowers and clothing.

The 55 minutes is not tied together by narrative so much as it is a series of striking moments. These are often inspired by something in the papers- a line from a story or weather report or ad. With a frantic energy, he makes connections between the content. He bounces from calculations of article content to a crossword answer to advice from a relationship column, back to the crossword on the wall and then on to falling in love with Pippa Middleton.

Throughout, there is a growing realisation that although the man is a recluse, his newspaper obsession is an obsession with the outside world. There is longing, but there is overwhelming fear and uncertainty.

The turning point is when the man tears the paper from a window and creates a little paper bird which he flies around the room, before it leaves through the window again. It’s a slow and delicate sequence that leads to the frantic creation of a beautiful pair of wings that span the room. The man rocks back and forth, the wings slowly flapping and I am filled with awe. It is so beautiful. And then, in a flash, it’s over and he’s furious. For dreaming? for being conscious of his longing? It shakes me out of the trance I’m in and I feel really uncomfortable. He hugs his only companion, his jacket stuffed with paper. And my heart breaks a little.

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I’ve told you enough so I won’t tell you how it finishes, but it is uplifting and heart warming. I also became conscious that my mouth was hanging open in awe at this point, but I didn’t want to move so it stayed like that until the play ended.

Sunday 3rd – Thursday 7th March, 8.00pm. The Audio Foundation. Adults $15, Child $12, Conc $12, Group $12.

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