“...But aren’t you biased, Diesel?”
Of course, I do admire Cain greatly as a performer. Yet the sentiment stands regardless. Gift of the Gab is thoroughly engrossing, and clever as all hell. Believe me. This is a remarkable piece of theatre.
“So this review honestly reads more like a love letter, an ode to James Cain would you say?”
“Okay. Well, you know what’s interesting about the future production of this performance?”
It totally has international appeal, amirite!?
This should be performed in Hollywood, for Alan Rickman, for Ian McKellen. Cain should be the jester in the courts of acting royalty. This play left me fantasising on their reactions, whether they’d be offended or not (I doubt they would be, though I still did wonder). I want them desperately to see it. Gosh, I’d be first to donate towards the crowdfund that wants to make this a reality.
The play was so much fun that it felt as if watching a child at, well, play. A child who is utterly absorbed in what he’s doing. This ‘play’ is namely apparent in Cain’s innovative use of video projection, and is both fantastic and fascinating at embodying the spectacle of a Hollywood blockbuster. The writing is clever, building off the plot of your classic action film, though transposed for stage. This is entirely appropriate and the familiarity of this narrative arc; the confused car chase, the training montage, the final confrontation, all allow him to stretch these moments to absurd and hilarious heights. To expand further, I think he has struck gold with incorporating projection into performance; an instrument I hope he continues to explore in future works.
The lighting and music, by James Ruscoe and Oliver Devlin respectively, is seamlessly integrated. These design elements, along with the acting, are completely in sync and in constant motion, like a well-oiled machine.
There’s a great musicality to everything as it unfolds before the audience’s eyes. A dance with many moments to hit, and Cain rises to the challenge of keeping up with the show’s brisk pace, never missing a beat.
To point out sufficient criticisms is difficult because simply put I rather enjoyed myself. There were a couple of unclear moments, though this was more than likely me not catching on to a particular reference. Given such references were in abundance, this was bound to happen, and so it’s easy to forgive.
Perhaps Gollum could have had a more defined role, especially since the impression was so spot on. I was at times a little confused as to where he sat in the mix as one of Gab’s cinema-goers. I did entertain the thought post-performance that he would make for a great manager/overlord of the cinema where Gab works (which I assume to be in either Wellington or small-town New Zealand). Given the generalisation that Hollywood knows New Zealand most notably for the Lord of the Rings, maybe there’s something in that to explore?
To spoil the show (I am sorry), there was one missed opportunity for our beloved villain, Alan Rickman. I had hoped his response to Ian McKellen's confession of love would have been “Always,” à la Harry Potter, followed by a montage of McKellen/Rickman fan fiction.
Though perhaps that would be taking things too far…
Overall, it’s a shame the season's over, and my review comes so late, because I want sorely to be highlighting these things, and for people reading to feel encouraged to go see it. There’s just so much entertainment value and love for film apparent in Gift of the Gab. I left the theatre inspired to dive into a cinema.
So I think James Cain will just have to crack out his fabulous impressions again sometime in the future.
He definitely should.