Peer Gynt [recycled]

presented by Auckland Theatre Company
ASB Waterfront Theatre, March 9 2017

Peer Gynt [recycled] is 3-hour wild-ride deconstructing Henrik Ibsen’s classic, transforming it into a self-reflective piece of meta-theatre. With Trolls. And Air Emirates hostesses. And Yoga.

The play opens with writer Kent Eli onstage to introduce the show who gives us some insight into the writing process and how he started on this project. His mother (Lisa Chappell) shows up in a dressing gown and curlers, to read over the first draft and give her thoughts on it. This won’t be the last time she drops in to guide him.

As it turns out, there are two journeys; the journey of Peer Gynt’s an his adventures; and the journey of Kent, the writer, as he struggles to finish this thing.

Peer Gynt, by Eli Kent; dir Colin McColl; Auckland Theatre Company production; photographs Michael Smith

There are so many ‘wow’ moments in this play – the first the opening scene revealing a set with striking modern lines. A long wall cuts a sharp diagonal with a row of doors getting smaller and smaller, giving the whole stage enormous depth.

Then there’s Huhu (Brynley Stent), the Norwegian translator, hired to teach Kent a bit about Ibsen’s Norway – brandishing a sword at the end of Act 1. She delivers hilarious dialogue in a convincing Norwegian accent, and uses brilliant physical comedy as she struggles to get off stage. All the while Eli Kent’s ex-girlfriend (Ana Scotney) returns via Skype to give her definitive opinions on his work and call him out on his narcissism, demanding a writer’s credit in exchange for her help.

photographs Michael Smith

Next up are the Trolls – including the Troll Princess (Ella Gilbert), the Troll King (Adam Gardiner) and an assortment of other gnarly who decide to adopt Peer. Then ‘The Boyg’ (Peter Hayden) who Peer encounters after he’s escaped the trolls and gets lost in a void. By now we have a second actor playing Peer, (Jordan Mooney) who’s wearing a protective cone/dog collar around his neck lined with fairy lights as he wanders around in the darkness. When he asks “Who are you?” the simple reply is “The Boyg is only itself.”

Peer Gynt, by Eli Kent; dir Colin McColl; Auckland Theatre Company production; photographs Michael Smith

From there it’s all on in Act 2 as Peer continues to seek enlightenment in all its forms, while Kent and Ibsen bemoan the fate of the play and Peer’s soul-mate Sol (Ana Scotney) patiently awaits his return. We also have a series of contemporary cameos, including director James Cameron turning up to reenact a scene from Titanic as Peer is on a ship homeward bound for New Zealand. At last we approach the end of the journey.  But how will this story end? It seems no-one, not even the writer is all that sure.

Review by Dedee W

Peer Gynt [recycled] is part of the Auckland Arts Festival and is playing from 9-18 March 18 at the ASB Waterfront Theatre. Click HERE to purchase tickets.