Live Through This
Direction: Jonny Potts and Jean Sergent (written by Jonny Potts and Jean Sergent)
Circa Theatre; Circa Two (October 23 – November 13)
Live Through This comprises two solo shows, two separate monologue-based one-person plays. Jonny Potts writes, directs and performs The Best Show In Town Is At Your Place Every Night and after the interval Jean Sergent arrives to deliver her show, Change Your Own Life. But there’s many reasons for the two to live together through this duel/dual presentation – and not just because Kiwis prefer value for money.
Sergent and Potts, both multi-faceted writer/performers have been friends for years and so this collaboration speaks to a creative synergy, am empathy inherent in the roles they are living through, not just the ones they’re offering up in this show. But also, the two shows take themes of grief, of loss, and apply them in different ways to different things.
In the case of both performances there is a lot that could be spoiled by a reviewer quick to want to pass praise. It’s a bit like those daft comedy reviews where all the punchlines are ruined, all the jokes shared but without the context. So I’ll tread carefully.
The Best Show In Town is about the death of video stores, about the death of a city due to its culture corroding – but it’s about more than that. It’s about memory, about how memories are formed, friendships are forged, about the passion that burns deep in those of us that seek out ‘the thing’ – the physical copy, the artefact and/or artifact. Hey, it’s how we get to drop our arty facts on people at parties!
There’s an intensity within Jonny’s writing and delivery here that is all at once warm and invigorating, never alienating. He cares. He really cares. And we are swept along on his tour of the city, a city that’s no longer there in the way that he presents it.
Change Your Own Life is more overtly about grief – the death of two people who were very close to Sergent. This is no spoiler. This is in the opening lines, and in the promo material. This is less a one-person-play, more a dramaturgical monologue. Movement, a stage set, great use of lighting, and props, all there of course. But it’s about Jean Sergent, the role of actor/character/writer all blurred – and through that cleverly subversive way that theatre has we are being given a staged version of honesty (for the stage). There’s an authenticity of character here that is so compelling from the opening notes.
Both shows are brilliant on their own – both debuted last year in separate performances. But they deserve to live together. And we’re lucky to have them in this shape. Clever writing, strong performances, lovely ideas and though grief is at the heart of both performances – and perhaps the truest version of ‘nostalgia’ you’ll see in the 21st Century – there is humour, heart and wisdom. There is warmth.