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THE MUTLIX (article first published : 2005-06-16)

Running at Kwasuka Theatre is The Mutlix presented by Bryan Hiles and Oded Rouche and their new production company, Long Time Overdue. Rowan Bartlett makes up the third member of the cast.

Their press release includes a description of the show which says it all: “It is a barber-shop trio meets Homer’s Odyssey meets Alice in Wonderland meets a dyslexic bumble-bee meets a one legged duck.”

Throw in more than a touch of Monty Python, vaudeville and Morecambe and Wise and if you can get your head around all that, you’ll know you can’t expect a structured theatre piece of focused dramatic intent but rather a highly amusing, whacky and entertaining diversion! The hour-long show also features the best performances I have seen to date from these young actors.

Bryan, Oded and Rowan Bartlett scamper through a series of nonsensical situations on a relatively bare stage in front of a back-cloth painted as a brick wall. There’s a screen which at one point shows an amusing frolic in a park with our hero and a dog costume character which supposedly represents the unseen character of Shihtzu who gets lost. Any similarity between the costumed dog and a Shihtzu is purely coincidental – but that’s part of the fun!

There are lots of amusing running gags including the panacea for all ills – a bunch of blue pills that look remarkably like Smarties. Beware, though, they obviously have hidden powers as our hero (Oded) single-handedly defeats his opponents in a number of warlike sequences. Good to see Oded moving away from the children’s theatre style of delivery that he was in danger of becoming entrenched in. This show allows us to see glimpses of a deeper and stronger capacity and his performance was consistent and nicely-controlled.

Rowan Bartlett vigorously puts the Aarrrgh into Aaarrghracle (Oracle) as a pirate in a wheelchair with a fake parrot that has its uses; a Mad Hatter attempting equally mad magic, or a Marilyn Monroe (believe it!) look-alike. That’s when he’s not being long-suffering about the situations he’s thrown into or rigging up a fantastical contraption … but to say more would be to give the game away for an entirely new dimension of theatre not seen before at Kwasuka.

Bryan Hiles just gets better. Lithe, quick, highly articulate and focused with good voice production – you can hear and understand every word he says – he has much potential as a comedy performer. He hops in and out of costume and character from a brooding black bewigged sinister figure or a casual Frenchman to a dapper theatrical agent.

The show makes strong use of sound effects and well-known musical numbers although the backing needs to be considerably reduced when the actors speak over music. There are some nifty choreographed sequences and I particularly enjoyed Bryan and Oded’s tango!

While the production needs much stronger direction, I urge readers to see it – it’s a brand new piece of theatre, three young actors are proving their worth and its loads of fun, besides.

The Mutlix runs at Kwasuka Theatre until June 25. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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