Raiders of the Lost Script

Concept and Direction: Andrew Johnson & Jeffrey Clark
Drama Soc Production. 14 March 2002

The concept for this week is improvisation, that strange beast where the actors decide to rebel against the harsh confines of the script and do what the heck that want, taking their lead from suggestions made by the audience. This format always runs the risk that a cast might be having more fun than the people who paid good money to get in, but from the audiences reaction on the night Dramasoc successfully avoid that trap.

The poster for this pretty much sums up what to expect, with the basic plot coming straight from that treasure trove of cliches Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this play, Albuquerque Jones has to go on a quest for (Insert audience suggestion here), along the way having to battle Evil Nazi. Along the way he teams up with his ex-finance, Lara Co-Croft and his loyal friend, Wisecracking Sidekick.

Things get off to a rather slow start, as the audience had to sit through some introductory dialogue which got us up to speed with what was expected of us and the set up for the lead character, Albuquerque Jones. Brendon Bennett does his best with this, but his role as the main liaison between audience and players means he can't let loose like the other actors until well into the play. Alice Carmody's Laura was rather low key, but she manage to survive the improvised' song with her dignity intact. As usual, the villain's role give the most scope for scenery chewing, and Matt Powell gets his teeth into everything with a great line in maniacal laugher and self-referential dialogue. As wisecracking Side kick, Javier Jarquin did justice to the role of character actor, being the only player who gave the impression of playing a character instead of making fun of a type of character.

Of course, the bottom line in this sort of thing is whether it is funny or not, and the answer on the night was yes. From some snappy dialogue to hilarious work by the Swing Improvisers on scene transitions and special effects, this made for a fun evening out. (Insert your suggestion for a witty closing remark here.)

© Darren Schroeder

Cover of the Book

The Reckoning: The Murder Of Christopher Marlowe

Charles Nicholl

Prompted by the lack of concern shown by most biographers of Marlowe to the circumstances of his violent death, Nicholl sets out in this book to discover what brought about the death of one of the best remembered Elizabethan literary figures.

Of the exact cause of his death there is no doubt; the inquest was overseen by the coroner to the royal household. It found that that during a scuffle the blade of a 12 penny dagger entered Marlowe's forehead making a wound two inches deep and one inch wide, killing him instantly.

Beyond these facts Nicholl points out that much that has been taken as fact should to be re-examined. The four people present at the death, Marlowe included, were all in some way involved in shadowy intelligence war being fought between the Protestant government and Catholic groups at the time. These were men of changeable allegiance; swindlers and liars whose only motivation was profit and survival. Nicholl's presents details from records and documents of the time in order to support his argument that the testimony of the three survivors of the scuffle should be called into question and that more was behind their meeting than a simple meal.

Throughout this Marlowe himself remains an elusive figure. Of his motivation Nicholl's can only guess, his work for the government as a spy against the Catholic cause and rumoured atheism, and the tone of his works, set up a contradiction that Nicholl can not explain. This said, the result of Nicholl's work has much to recommend it. The book is a well balanced mix of literary criticism and historical research which presents a vivid depiction of a brutal society in which torture and public execution were commonly used by the government. The clear presentation of so many fascinating details of Elizabethan life and the facts surrounding the political and religious workings of the state at the time, (such as the entrapment that lead to the death of Mary Queen of Scots and her supporters) make for compulsive reading, not only for students of the Renaissance.

© Darren Schroeder

Ocean's Eleven

This is a concept film, and the concept is glamour. From the tastefully shinny shirts to the beautiful cinematography this movie makes you realise how dull and washed out the real world is. Even at his parole hearing Danny Ocean (George Clooney) looks glamorous, with a prison issue beard and attitude. I guess the parole board figured so what if he is bound to break five laws in his first day of freedom, at least he would break them in style.

Where a plot usually goes, this film has a robbery. It is carried out by a bunch of cool looking guys and one computer geek. Even the old con-man who spends his days loosing money at the dog track gets to don some European designed glasses and a few shiny shirts. Julie Roberts has to provide most of the female glamour, and she does a pretty good job of it. There are also some strippers and erotic dancers in one early scene of the film, and you guessed it, they make their rather trashy profession look classy.

Director Steven Soderbergh's impressive talent as a director is in evidence, with editing that seamlessly combines everything together with style. Acting wise, everyone does a very nice job of smirking at the right bits, looking slightly nervous when some tension is needed, and appearing to be genuinely impressed by their co-stars' wardrobe changes.

It has to be admitted that this film is a pleasure to watch, but there is very little in it to engage the viewer. Apart from a few nervous moments as the stars try to blow up a vault door the only engaging bits are when it looks like the bad guy might spill some food on Danny's clean shirt. File this one under eye candy, and check out Soderbergh's The Limey on dvd if you want some more substance with your style.

24: Midday on Day 1

So what is the concept this week? Real time. The producers of 24 have amalgamated reality TV with X-files paranoia and modern parenting to bring us a show that tries for every demographic they could think of. The hook of course is the real time aspect. Over the course of 24 shows we get to see everything that takes place in one day of the life of counter terrorism agent , played by Kiefer Sutherland. Keifer got a Goldern Globe for his work on this show but so far we haven't seen much from him to suggest why he won. He emotes into a cell phone quite well and is gradually changing his expression from bored to concerned, but so do the animated characters on the cell phone ads. Maybe the Globes felt sorry for him 'cause he doesn't seem to have any lips.

The show has more interwoven plots than any soap opera would ever attempt to juggle and has yet to fumble them. The I can't trust anyone at the office plot involves lots of suspicious glances and exposition about leaks and rats. All the other agents act like petulant kids in a dorm instead of professional law enforcement agents. I want to use the big gun... No, it's my turn....Is not.. Is too!. These people can't even keep their affairs to themselves, how are they supposed to cope with state secrets?

Things are on far more solid ground when dealing with the families. Jack's daughter ignores her parents, sneaks out of the house after dark and gets into a whole lot of trouble. His ex-ex-wife is left to try and find her. Events here are genuinely scary as things turn from joy riding to kidnapping and violence. All parents of teenagers should make their child watch this and they'll never want to go out with their friends again. Along side this we have a Afican American presidential candidate who has gotten on the wrong side of a eurotrash death squad because of his political policies, or maybe they don't like the idea of the Huxtable family living in the white house. Senator Palmer does a good job of looking stately while trying to deal with a teenage son who may be a killer. His intelligent and supportive wife keeps pestering him too tell her what is on his mind. My guess is that like Jack he wished he had used birth control.

All this is held together with some seriously cool split screen effects, lots of cell phone calls, shoot outs in dimly lit warehouses, explosions, and a nifty soundtrack. As an action thriller it sure beats any other US TV show, we just have to hope Jack can avoid the office for the rest of the day.

P.S. the live telecasts for the contest screened in the New Zealand ad breaks were brought to you by a bunch of idiots.

palmer for president