Comedy Festival 2008, BATS Theatre
May 6-10 | Reviewed by Melody Nixon

THIS SHOW is not all about Indian Radio; it’s true. There are multitudes of obscure references and wildly tangential side-stories strung about the loose frame of a loose premise that comes out of nowhere and goes almost nowhere. Opaque, mish-mashed and blinding in a bad sense (why must theatre companies still face spot-lights towards the audience?), this is definitely a comedy festival feature that should be put back in the incubator until next year; or not at all. To be fair, they did warn us. The publicity notes state that this show is the one that ‘“may just disappoint” audience and critics alike.’ Alack, if only we had taken heed.

Through the muddle of white bee-suits and flashing lights, four radio presenters emerge to bring us four varying stories from around Wellington. Ironically battling with enunciation issues, these ‘All India Radio Show’ presenters become embroiled in tricky situations with the subjects of their stories, fending off samosa-welding wives, xenophobic? Hutt residents, step-off Playstation champs, and gun-touting school principals. There seems to be some pertinent racial commentary buried in there somewhere, and there are some good moments. People moving slowly across the stage in bee-suits (not sure why) is one.

The hour of chaos is wrapped up with a catchy tune; and catchy it is. The Mr. “Asian Sensation” song – and the Bollywood style moves of the dancing cast – is gleeful. It hints at the potential The Untouchables had for making this show into something more than just a frolic in the props closet.

Toi-Whakaari graduates who shone in last year’s production of Arcadia gave themselves little room to move or challenge this time around. Nonetheless the talent of Bryony Skillington was still evident, particularly in her role as jealous ‘wife number 2.’ Similarly Ahilan Karunahara injected a lot of crazed humour into his role as the ‘Principal of Wellington High,’ bearing down upon fellow cast members with a focused intensity.

The little sparks of enjoyment came as too little too late however, and to be honest the (Not) The All India Radio Show was an hour of pain and endurance. Imagine high school drama students gone wild on V in the back room after school. They should be at detention, but they’re not. At least it seems like someone is having fun.