Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Case for the People in the Neighbourhood

First off, the Jetstar report: while an indulgent cup of tea and ridiculously congested cross-town traffic meant that I arrived at JetStar check in at Wellington Airport one minute late, and was subsequently growled at by the check in attendant, I was (mercifully) allowed on the plane. My initial panic was not relieved when I saw the queue to go through the scanner (half of whom turned out to be not on the flight but a family who were - unthinkingly - following one woman as far as they could go to embrace her, but holding up everyone behind her and them in the process, meaning everyone had to skirt around her and them once the family decided they had to embrace her one final time), but then, as I rushed to my seat, I noted a small train of latecomers blithely boarding the flight, obviously experienced travellers used to arriving with little time to spare and expecting everyone else to wait for them.

That was a sobering JetStar experience, not quite the friendly face I was expecting. But once the door shut and the flight proper got under way, the crew adopted a more relaxed demeanour and the evidently Australian captain mangled a few Kiwi place names ("Off to our left is Mount Egmont, or Mount Teereeneekee), and the plane itself was incredibly quiet and my ears did not get horrendously blocked as they have the last few times on Air NZ. We arrived on time, and were quickly herded off so the plane could take off again.

Suffice to say, for the return journey, I was at Auckland Domestic very early (and even had the time to play on free internet - listen up Wellington Airport!), and there were no return issues, the flight even pulling in to Wellington early.

And yes, I did get my allocated seats, both ways.

One interesting phenomenon though is the people on the plane. I may start up a classification system as per the book fair folk for these, though that will have to wait for another posting as...

... the second part of this is about the show I went to see in Auckland, Avenue Q.

Thanks to the Bananaboat, we had amazing seats overlooking the stage. It was interesting to note that the Civic in Auckland was not full, though they had curtained off the rear section of the upper level which gave the impression of the session being fuller than it actually was. The whole atmosphere was very relaxed, unlike the buzz and excitement I remember experiencing for the Priscilla show about two years ago. But then, this show was very much lower in key, with no big Barbie bus and no large production numbers featuring a multitude of dancing paint brushes. No, this was an altogether different, more humble affair, and the smaller audience reflected that.

For those not in the know, Avenue Q is a musical about a guy, Princeton, who moves into a poor neighbourhood and has many lessons in life and love and getting by in the big city. Of course, the twist in this is that Avenue Q is based on Sesame Street, so a lot of the characters are muppets as is Princeton himself, but the dialogue and songs come more from Deadwood than the Children's Television Workshop.

The songs are all irreverent and amusing, the stand outs being the frank "Everyone's a little bit racist" and the brilliant "The Internet is for p0rn", its refrain ringing throughout the rest of the show. The muppeteers are all incredible, handling at least two characters each, some working in perfect unison with one of their colleagues to handle one muppet. It's very odd, but after a while, you kind of forget about the actors and focus on the muppets, seeing the legs of the actors as extensions of the muppets rather than the other way around. The actors portraying Kate Monster and Princeton were singing power houses, and it was incredible to reflect back and realise that they had been singing as either the main characters or one of the supporting roles for almost the entire time.

As the show is based on Sesame Street, there are human characters living on Avenue Q as well, though these are a bit less entertaining than Kate, Princeton or the scene-stealing Trekkie Monster (no relation). One character is based on Gary "wotchatalkinabout, Willis?" Coleman, but the jokes around the character to me fell a bit flat, either because I didn't know the actor's history that well or because the jokes just weren't any good. That is not to blame the actor for anything whatsoever, as she is, as well as her muppeteering colleagues and other human residents, including the incredibly gifted singer playing Christmas Eve, absolutely superb.

Surprisingly, with a cast of only 8 actors, the show never flags and there are never obvious "pauses" as people change characters and catch their breath after major songs. As the show was created quite a while ago, some of the show feels a little dated (the hilarious muppet $ex scene is very reminiscent of a similar steamy encounter in Team America: World Police), though a few popular, and some New Zealand, references are incorporated as well.

Verdict: All up then, Avenue Q is a great show. It is very funny, light and entertaining. It won't blow your mind, but it will make you laugh and think and tap your toes a bit as well. 15 letters out of Q.

Verdict 2: JetStar performed really well when my own lateness nearly caused a problem. The ground staff are not as friendly as the cabin crew, and the airline's Australian origin is on display as brazenly as one would expect. But, for this trip at least, I will give them 4.5 stars out of 5.


kiwilauren said...

"The Internet is really really great." "FOR PORN!" "I've got a fast connection so I don't have to wait." "FOR PORN!" Hahaha. "Grab your ______ and double-click for porn, porn, PORN!"

PS - I am going to be on kiwi soil in 38 days! Our reunion will be glorious! I'm starting in Auckland but will obviously let you know when I'm heading the Welly way! LOVE!

Off-Black said...

Just saying, but which airline you are flying probably has nothing to do with how blocked or unblocked your ears are :)

Kiwi in Zurich said...

I think Off-Black is probaby right judge.

R said...

I actually wondered if it was the newer airbus that made the ear difference, but then it was probably just because this time I was not flying with a cold. Little things...