I mean, it is that. But it’s also a wonderful, 50-minute poem about a city cresting a peak of cultural and social success. It’s about the “harbour and the hills, the hills and the harbour”. It’s about falling in love in these times, when things were kind of good.
But we don’t get to that stuff for a while. Instead, the audience walks into a set dressed like a dilapidated Video Ezy, complete with all the signs demarcating genre, but with too many copies of the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy.*
Dressed in a black suit with black shirt (salesman vibes), Potts is our strange, but friendly tour guide and lover of video shops. Although he knows “we all want to get to Kilbirnie!”, we’ve got to go to Brooklyn, Aro Valley and Miramar first. We don’t go to Kelburn and Karori, where they are video shops, but we do go to Hataitai, where there are none.
So far, so funny – especially if you’re, like most of the opening night audience, a Wellingtonian. Around the show’s midpoint, the tone starts to shift. Potts’ energy starts getting manic, and lighting cues begin to break with the show’s reality. Our tour guide stops speaking about video shops, and starts conjuring images of condensation on glass, coffee cups on window sills, hot desire between two people in City Gallery.
I loved this show. It’s one of the most complex solo performances I’ve seen, winding from narrative stand-up to poetic abstraction and back again. It’s about a specific loss – the death of video shops (and Wellington, to encroaching corporate greed). And yet, the feelings of sweet, nostalgic sadness Potts hits – and you do feel like you’ve been thumped with them – are so simple.
The Best Show in Town is at Your Place Every Night is a 2020 NZ Fringe production. It runs until the 6th of March at BATS Theatre.
*You know, for kids!