Binge Culture's artists have a formidable repertory of tactics for making their audience feel at ease while simultaneously taking them out of the comfort zone of conventional theatre and into more exciting places. It's worth asking: how do they do it?
To start with, there is no stage separating ‘us' from ‘them': you arrive at Thistle Hall to find an open space with a bar (hurray!). While you chat with people you know over beer and samosas, the performance space gradually takes shape around you (you may even find yourself helping to set it up without really thinking about it), but it's never more than a few semi-circular rows of chairs.
By the time Joel focuses the audience's attention, you will have already started to feel like you're among friends, not one of a group of strangers, and in a safe space (since after all, you helped set it up). Also, the absence of stage lighting (which typically separates performers and spectators into lit and unlit areas) reinforces the sense that everyone present is part of a collective venture.
We're performing it until Sunday in Wellington, then we're in Auckland Tues-Saturday.
Beep Test* is up next, at Thistle from the 4th March. Just had a run through of it, and it's going to be sweaty and outrageous.