Review: Heat

Went on Saturday Night to Circa to see Heat, accompanied by Auckland Girl, and Mother of Auckland Girl (MAG).

Auckland Girl is in a wheelchair at the moment, and kudos go to for being so disability friendly. They moved the ushers from their normal seats, to allow the wheelchair to go there.

Heat, created by Lynda Chanwai-Earle, is described as “an original love story between a woman, a man and a penguin”. As this blog is infamous for its google visits on the keywords “penguin sex”, I just knew I had to see this film 🙂

It’s a three person or creature show. John and Stella are a husband and wife team (played by Kate Prior and Simon Vinvent) who are going to live in a hut in the Antarctica for a year – he is an  atmospheric scientist, and she studies penguins. Bob is an emperor penguin.

John and Stella are obviously in love, and well if you are stuck in a hut for a year, there isn’t that much to do but make love also. But underneath their happiness is profound sadness as when they move in, they place a photo of a child and an urn on the top shelf. At some stage in the past they had the awfulness of losing a child.

Enter Bob. Bob is played by Byron Coll and he is totally nude, only covered with body paint. I hadn’t noticed the warnings of full frontal nudity, so when Bob first appeared on stage both Auckland Girl and I were casting nervous glances as MAG to see if she was offended. Luckily MAG was not.

All three actors performed well, but for me the star of the show was Bob. Despite having no speaking part, he made the show with his facial expressions, his walk and especially his flipper attacks. I’d say it is worth seeing the play for his performance alone.

The play is about how Stella comes to care for Bob after he is rejected by the penguin colony, and how over time it becomes obvious she is starting to see him as a substitute child. This causes dramatic scenes of conflict with John. Stella and John made a very convincing couple – from the playfulness through to the fights.

Some plays are pure comedy. Heat certainly has many funny moments, but it has moments of great sadness and drama. Your emotions go on a real roller-coaster watching the play, and you don’t know whether it will end in tragedy or not.

The play was 90 minutes long, and I enjoyed it greatly.

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