Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pokemon Live! by Temple Theatre Company

Pokémon Live! is Temple Theatre Company's debut production, and it's awesome just how this unsavoury and crusty execution managed to entertain the audience. I couldn't control my excitement for seeing the show - I grew up with the songs, I knew all the characters and the storyline, and I understood all the intertexual humour. And because of all those reasons, I was willing to forgive almost every disastrous aspect of the show and appreciate it in its horrifying glory.

Ash (Adwan Dickson) and his friends Misty (Rhiannon Moushall) and Brock (Thomas Pitiris) are on their latest adventure, which is to win the new Diamond Badge from a new gym leader. Unknown to them, the Diamond Badge is a ruse concocted by Giovanni (Zane Weber) and his minions Team Rocket (John Vizcay-Wilson, Xanthe Jones, Phoebe Ballard). Team Rocket have captured Ash's mum Delia (Georgina Purdie) and Professor Oak (Patrick Aiken), and plan on capturing Pikachu (Elizabeth Witt) so that the new super Pokémon MechaMew2 can learn all the known battle moves, and allow Giovanni to take over the world.
Pitiris as Brock, Dickson as Ash and
Moushall as Misty (Source: Facebook).

For a show that was conceived as a multi-million dollar spectacle, the production value is seriously lacking and in some areas hilariously bad. The music, lyrics and book are puerile and banal while the directing is shambolic, however with material like this, it's very difficult to not make that entertaining - the fact that the team admitted they set out of make something that veered on 'so bad it's good' certainly prevails as a victory. My friend next to me's mouth hung open in sheer horror while I wailed with laughter. There are backouts that have no function, in some instances where NOTHING on stage even changes and the audience are just left in the dark listening to random instrumental reprises. There are pointless dance breakdowns where the story doesn't progress and there is no insight given to character. The lighting rarely does anything emotive and seem to serve as a homage to schizophrenia, and the sound is poorly mixed, usually being too soft but occasionally achingly loud.

All of those elements fed directly into the enjoyment of piece and to top it off there are several great aspects of the production too - the actual performers made the most of their ridiculous material and were clearly having a fantastic time, and the cast was sprinkled with veterans of Brisbane musical theatre with all being apt singers and several members pretty good dancers. Comedic timing was excellent and scenes flavoured with random elements, such as entering on scooters or 'falling' into holes, were glorious. It felt like, seeing as the show was noted suitable for audience under 15, there could have been more tounge-in-cheek comments, and the fact that Pikachu was scantily dressed set itself up for some jokes that just never happened. Regardless, references to the games were fantastic - stepping into the eyesight of trainers, the music, but in particular the voice over at the start is one of the most ingenious introductions and executions of house etiquette I've ever heard. Certain songs were just stellar - 'Misty's Song' was hilariously inappropriate, 'PokéRap' a brilliant opener, and the ridiculously flamboyant 'Double Trouble' were glorious.

I'm amused that I enjoyed Pokémon Live! for the same reasons I didn't enjoy Next to NormalPokémon Live! is probably one of the stupidest things I've ever seen, but Temple Theatre Company has completely embraced this puerile work and transformed it into a glorious trainwreck which was hilarious and completely enthralling for 90 minutes. Hopefully this ambition has paid off and the troupe can now afford some real props, costumes and material to perform. But for what it was - wow. My childhood came to life, albeit a little more sexy than what it was.

Temple Theatre Company's Pokemon Live! played at Brisbane Arts Theatre from April 23rd - April 27th.

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