cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
[personal profile] cyphomandra
This is an endearing and rather sweet show that contains a great portrayal of an established relationship (both professional and personal) without feeling the urge to break it up and/or start any new ones. It is also the only theatre I've seen with actual cooking on stage (I've seen a fair amount of eating, not least of which the sequence in Shopping and Fucking that means that one actor is now forever Noodle Boy to me and fellow attendees) and is also very, very New Zealand, in equal parts embarrassment and affectionate nostalgia.

Anyway. Hudson & Halls were a gay couple who had a cooking show on NZ television from the late 70s to early 80s. They were funny, flamboyant (and all those other related code words) and very popular. For context, the homosexual law reform bill, which decriminalised consensual sex between men aged 16 or over, finally passed in 1986. Hudson & Halls, and the Topp Twins (I'm glad they exist, although I don't usually like their material) managed to be acceptable enough to the mainstream while also creating acceptance and pulling the mainstream along with them.

There is, I think, only one episode of the show still extant - viewable on-line here.

This show is done as if the audience are the studio audience at a live taping of a Christmas special; outside, a floor manager with a headset and a jumpsuit introduces herself, welcomes us, outlines basic studio etiquette and, almost as an afterthought - tells us when and how both characters will die. And then we're all ushered into a recreation of the set - tape marks on the floor, applause signs overhead, a grumpy wordless lighting tech moving ponderously through the overhead rigging - and an awful lot of major childhood flashbacks on my part due to seeing all the cutting edge kitchen equipment (the microwave is the same one my parents got - I think it was one of the first major home commercial models, the Kitchen Whiz is the same, the crockery, the tupperware...). And then the stars appear, off-stage but still conscious of the audience in their interactions, and the show begins. Again.

The food (cream of cheese soup, a hot carrot and raisin salad, turkey, a cream pastry castle) is fairly dire, the alcohol consumption is amazing (the logo for the TV show was two wine glasses clinking) whether cask wine or sherry or champagne cocktails, and the tension between what the audience know - that the leads are gay, the fate of the show, the fate of the characters - and what the characters can say or show is very impressive. It has moments of great sadness and also moments that are genuinely touching, as well as doing comedy/farce - the set up reminded me of Noises Off, but Noises Off does not have the characters being aware of one of their audiences (the fictional studio one, which is also the real theatre one) and it's a really nice dynamic that I don't think I've seen played out so effectively before. It is a limited show by nature of this frame, but it uses all those limits really well.

The leads are brilliant. One of them - Craig Parker [edit: Chris. Momentarily confused with Shortland Street cast] - has a one-man show in the Silo season next year, and I'm looking forward to it.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. It's also a great Christmas show, although I won't - this year - be trying out any of the recipes.

Date: 2015-12-02 10:25 am (UTC)
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)
From: [personal profile] china_shop
Ahaha, I just watched the first segment and a half of that episode -- I'm honestly not sure I've ever seen them before -- and they're SO MARRIED! *hearts to pieces*

Date: 2015-12-02 02:40 pm (UTC)
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
That sounds like a fascinating show. I am always sad I cannot see All The Theater, but alas. Geography.

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