Reviews of Hillary Clinton / Young Lover and Discharge goes back to school

by librarykris on February 4, 2016

Review: Hillary Clinton / Young Lover

Richard Meros is back. Older, more travelled, more ambitious in his attempt to bring about a golden age of trans-pacific partnerships.  He’s convinced Hillary Clinton needs a young lover to boost her poll ratings so that she can get into the White House. (And be in charge.) (Of the country… etc etc.) His aim for the evening is to convince us that he should be that young lover.

Arthur Meek is undoubtedly charming as Meros. He expresses a whimsical aura of self delusion as he unpacks truths (and half truths) about intergenerational relations using Powerpoint on giant screens as a visual aid. His interactions with the audience are well judged with an old-tech hiccup seamlessly integrated.

However. Despite his assertions in the preview, Meros is angling for a physical relationship which makes this show challenging for me as it becomes first another example of a man turning a woman into an object, and then an exploration of obsession masquerading as harmless amusement.

Uncomfortably funny. The film version will be released late March.


Review: Discharge goes back to school

It’s the final day of the final term for Eastland High. There are two assemblies and some classes to get through then they’re finished for the year.  Five performers play multiple characters – the principal, the receptionist, teachers, and students.

Discharge Collective have woven together stories to make an entertaining show exploring the high school experience. Much like timetabled classes we get to see the individual subjects one after another.  Abby Howells is hilarious as a homeschooled student professing to love her P.E. class at school. Heidi Geissler is adorable as the girl trying to make small talk in the bathroom. I loved Harriet Hughes’ insolent trouble maker and Alayne Dick’s cheerful student-losing-her-best-friend. My favourite scene featured Josephine Byrnes as a chronically chirpy school leaver giving her teacher some tips on a better school leavers’ reference letter.

A nice way to start NZ Fringe.

  • Discharge goes back to school, directed by Heidi Geissler, written and performed by Discharge Collective, on at BATS Theatre to 13 February 2016.
Arthur Meek February 18, 2016 at 11:56 am

Hey Kris,

Thank you for your review. The discomfort you feel is very much a part of what we’re trying to encourage in our more reflective audience members – the fictional character Meros is an embodiment of what we perceive to be a generational tendency to happily gaze inward to identify the complexities of oneself as a person, but tend for the sake of convenience or laziness to reduce others to brands/objects, so that they can be more simply, and quickly comprehended and consumed. Whether politicians play into this knowingly – by branding themselves rather than revealing themselves as people is something interesting, but not really explored in the play. Meros certainly knows nothing about Hillary as a person, beyond what suits his argument. This is intentional and a reflection of his own limitations as a person. Yes, it is about a man offering himself to a woman. This happens in life as on stage, but we’re proud of Meros’ approach. He takes pains to offer, rather than force himself on Hillary and is at all times seeking active consent. At no time does he feel or express entitlement to Hillary or her person. If more people behaved in this way, we think the world would be a better place. But the important thing to address is this – you felt uncomfortable.

We do some things in this show to try and encourage that feeling in our audience. We think it’s something art can do that commerce, which is all about pleasing you, can’t. But we want to do it in a safe way. After reading this – do you feel that you were made to feel uncomfortable in an artistically controlled way? Or accidentally by our ignorance and limitations as artists and as men? We’d like to hope it’s the former, but if it’s the latter, we’d like to talk to you further to see if we can better understand your concerns and see if there’s anything we can change in the show to improve things.

librarykris February 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Kia ora Arthur,

Definitely uncomfortable in an artistically controlled way. Meros reduces himself to an object to fit into his Young Lover offer so it’s not only Clinton who becomes a commodity. I think it’s the fact that he doesn’t stop offering, that he interprets a warning from her security team positively, that he makes us complicit in the repeated offers that made me rethink what I’d seen when I came to write the review. There’s also the very last sequence of the show which presents him as someone who could potentially tip from being ‘very interested’ into ‘potentially dangerous’. There are reports every day on what can happen when that tip happens and it’s never a good thing for either party.
“At no time does he feel or express entitlement to Hillary or her person.” Thinking back this is true. I wish I’d consciously noticed that so I could have enjoyed it more and had fewer worries about what the show was saying about society.
Thank you for your comment & questions! It’s nice to be able to engage further re this show.

Paul Boland February 23, 2016 at 2:12 pm

I enjoyed the show a lot, but truthfully, I really think the character would have been better suited to the moniker ‘Arthur Meek’, rather than the banal ‘Richard Meros’.
Too late, I know!

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