The Intricate Art of Actually Caring

Went on Friday Night to The Intricate Art of Actually Caring at Downstage. This is a quirky New Zealand play which was a lot of fun. The first thing that strikes you is the three overhead projectors on the stage. It was like being in a timewarp. But the OHPs worked as a great device to not just take up through the chapters of the story, but with hilarious effect when used to show a boss sacking Jack.

The show is about Eli and Jack (played by themselves). The plays start’s in Eli’s room and Jack wonders about how thinsg come to be. He thinks every object has an amazing life story about how it came to be in that flat, with a camel rug especially captivating him. This then moves on to exploring their heritage and wanting to travel to Jerusalem to visit the grave of James K Baxter, Eli’s great uncle. So they do a road trip to Jerusalem.

The road trip is a classic Kiwi experience. You have the possum road kill, the painful parents they stay with, the arguments and the poetry. There are plenty of laughs and good Kiwi black humour.

Having been to Jerusalem myself, I especially enjoyed the descriptions of it, and the final scenes set there.

There is (as usual) a darker side to the play, with the death of their friend on his 21st birthday hanging over Eli and Jack. This is part of the context to their discovery of caring about heritage and where we come from, and what we do.

Probably a play more targeted at a younger audience, especially with a plethora of swear words featuring, but I saw Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon there enjoying the play, so all ages can appreciate it.

The director was Eleanor Bishop, who also has a production currently at Circa. A rare thing to have two active productions at the same time. She oversaw a good pace to the film, where you never feel things are dragging on. Each chapter is different from the one before, to keep you interested.

Overall an excellent play which makes you laugh and think in equal measures.

Readers may also enjoy the review at the excellent Theatrereview.