Maguire herself and Hamish Boyle co-star in this playful hour long romp. They move skillfully from scene to scene, comfortably taking on different characters with dramatic shifts in voice, physicality and movement. Boyle and Maguire utilised their physical selves to a sometimes extreme amount; their gesticulation, dance and character gestures helped communicate the theme of a scene as well as sending us audience members into fits of laughter- credit to Yule’s skillful choreography.. As the audience file in, Boyle begins in a noir-esque detective manner to ask the audience obscure questions, and dutifully document the answers. Our answers are later built into a scene much later in the piece, which works well to remind the audience that we are indeed a part of this absurd collection of scenes.
The first scene of the show is somewhat anticlimactic, I must say. Macguire, in despair, crawls across the empty stage, drinking and choking on wine, and professes their emotions. However, their expression was not quite sincere enough to seem believable, nor campy enough to create satire of the genre. The transitions between new and exciting scenes, though, quickly changes the pace and offers us more subtle nuanced considerations of love and romance. Overall the players are skilled and hold our attention as an audience throughout the piece.
Lighting, handled by Bethany Miller, and sound design, created by Maguire and operated by Yule, work to pull together this piece. Soft lighting transitions juxtaposed with hard projections and worked in unison with the soundscape. Clever and well timed voiceovers punctuate scenes, while ambient background music helps guide transitions from saucy dance scenes, to vampiric sex symbols lamenting on the difficulties of love, to a questionably sexy Shortland Street… And at each point, these scenes are supported well due to detailed construction of lighting and comical interjections of sound. The use of lighting and sound technology was a particularly strong element in this piece; for example, a scene towards the end of the show phased in soft background sounds such as children crying in perfect synchronicity with a story around childbirth- which gave this reviewer goosebumps.
Empty stages can lead to performers attempting to fill the space awkwardly; and I was pleasantly surprised that the performers expanded themselves over the stage comfortably and with grace. At times however I felt that the scenes could have used a little more refinement; some transitions felt a little clunky between scenes, where I was left wanting something more, and at times Maguire’s delivery was fast paced and difficult to understand.
Declarations of Love (And Other Useless Things) is a delightful feast of feminist tidbits; hilarious characters and meaningful stories strung together and performed with confidence and conviction. Declarations of Love runs from 3-7 March, from 8pm at Te Auaha. Tickets can be purchased here.