The set design matches the show’s flavour of mediocrity, in a good way. It has the vibe of having been thrown together; it’s all crates and pallets and bin bags and a hand-written sign reading ‘Pony Poo $2’. It’s pretty simple, but in a way that feels intentional. I can believe that in the world of this play, the mediocre central character has pulled the set together herself. The tech (Leki Lyons) is fun and playful but could use some tightening up. The show makes use of audio well, though. I am a big fan of the commentary-style voiceover that is used to open the play, and there are some nice audio moments throughout (one that springs to mind is the sound of a doorbell at a local dairy). Personally, I always feel that audio flourishes are kind of a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’, so when they are not that well executed they can feel a bit unnecessary and drag the pacing of the show. At this particular showing there are some audio delays that make the whole thing a bit stilted, but on the opening night of a development season I think this is forgivable. With some sharpening up, they could be quite effective.
The Shit Kid is a well-written play. It’s quippy and fun, and it deals with the insecurities we all feel about whether the lives we lead actually live up to people’s expectations. Harpur plays grown-up bogan teen mum Sharni, who is the sister of an Olympic gold medallist. It explores her feelings of mediocrity from the years between her teen pregnancy and her late 30s, when she is stuck teaching the rich kids from the farm next door to ride horses while she can’t even afford her own horse. You can tell that the show is Harpur’s own; she is a good fit for performing the character she has written. But my thoughts on the performance largely line up with my thoughts on the audio. In the show’s current form, I’m left thinking that it’s ‘good’ but maybe not ‘great’ or especially memorable. It needs some polishing up. The script has a lot of potential, but I want more oomph in the delivery of it, more energy. If, in the formal season for Comedy Fest, Harpur really commits to her character’s rage and envy and snark and takes the delivery just 10 percent further, it could shape up to be a pretty impressive show.
As it’s a show about a largely rural experience, I’m not sure that Wellington offers the ideal audience, but I can see The Shit Kid doing well somewhere like Christchurch or in smaller towns around the country.
The Shit Kid is showing at the Fringe Bar at 6pm until Saturday, 26 February as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival. To book tickets, visit the Fringe Website.