The set is basic, comprised of just a white sheeted backdrop draped with dozens of scarves. The balance of this works seamlessly with the piece, showing the kind of harmony between minimalism and clutter that seems to be a recurring theme throughout the show. It does, however, feel like a bit of a missed opportunity that this isn’t integrated into the show more. There are some wonderful moments, such as when Miller uses one of these scarves as a cupboard door or pulls some down in an op shop haul, and the show would benefit from returning to this convention a little more, simply because of how dynamic and effective it is.
Miller energises the space, not only giving the audience a piece of comedy, but a cabaret show as well. Some of the songs fit into the piece with ease, while others feel slightly stilted, but all are performed with commitment and skill. On the note of commitment, Miller has a surprising dedication to the comedy of the show, consuming food combinations to make the audience cringe, all in the name of resourcefulness. It walks a fine line between being commendable and a way to get quick laughs, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Miller’s ability to take a journey with the audience is impressive. She encourages involvement and is not thrown when they are reluctant to interact, but rather finds a way to improvise around it.
Waste Not Want Not’s structure borrows elements from stand up comedy as well as improv. It relies on a series of “Hot Tips” about resourcefulness, that err on the side of hoarding, placing emphasis on reusing (other people’s junk) rather than reducing. It has heart and is forward-thinking, but still manages to stay aware of its extremist ridiculousness through the way that the comedy is presented. The arc of the narrative, where Miller realises that she has a hoarding problem, comes a bit too late in the piece, and unfortunately feels like a last minute narrative resolution to a comedy without a strict narrative, rather than an organic ending for the show. It would be interesting to see the ending developed further. That aside, Miller’s solo is a piece of lighthearted environmentally conscious fun, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is more than enjoyable and well worth a watch.
Waste Not Want Not: Bethany’s Guide to the Thrift Life is on for a split season at The Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre’s temporary venue, Courtenay Creative, until Tuesday 19th March. To book tickets, or for more information on other shows in Wellington Fringe Festival, visit the NZ Fringe website.