Hard News by Russell Brown


The force is strong with this one

Having autism in the family means living with, and learning to love, irreducible difference. But that doesn't mean you can't all share the joy of certain things. Our family convenes over sci-fi and humour: Sunday night is presently reserved for eager viewing of the latest episode of Doctor Who, and at some point every day my son and I drop what we're doing for a "lolcat break".

So it was a no-brainer that we'd all get along to a show that combines both sci-fi and humour.

That show being Charlie's Ross's One-Man Star Wars, which condenses the three movies of the original trilogy into an hour-long solo performance that combines comedy, mime and microphone tricks. There are no props, no costumes, and no music that Ross doesn't make with his mouth. The only external input to the performance is the lighting.

It's brilliant, and surprisingly intense. Ross hurls himself around the stage, impersonating not only a huge cast of characters (Jabba the Hutt is particularly impressive) but the vessels in which they travel. At one point, he landed on the concealed transmitter for his microphone, at another he actually banged his head on the stage. And it did look like it hurt when the AT-AT Walker did its face-plant.

That he can keep this much energy in a show he's been touring with for six years is remarkable. It seemed appropriate that he should conclude the performance not with a big finale, but by winding it down, kneeling at the front of the stage and talking to the audience about the show itself.

Warning: if you're not reasonably familiar with the original trilogy, this might not be the show for you. I got lost a couple of times in the flurry, but the boys (remarkably, given that all three films were made well before they were born) seemed to be there with every beat. They laughed and applauded and were afterwards able to explain to me the origin of the little fellow with the big eyes and the big bottom lip who is at Rebel command during the final assault on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Ross says he'd like to come back next year with his other show, One Man Lord of the Rings. We'll be there. And given how long he's been doing Star Wars, it seems certain that this week at the Sky City Theatre in Auckland will be your last chance to see this show (don't hold your breath for a version of the prequel trilogy, because really, what was that about?). It's not cheap (and unfortunately there are no kids' concessions) but you might just feel you owe it to yourself.


Meanwhile, despite recent confident noises from Telecom, Vodafone gets the Jesus Phone for New Zealand, in a deal done at international level. It seems fair to speculate that it's Vodafone that has come to Apple rather than the reverse.

And Anthony Doesburg's experience with Orcon's unbundled ADSL 2+ underlines the problem with any company offering service across lines it doesn't have a deep technical grasp on. Anthony's not the only Grey Lynn dweller to have had a nightmare with Orcon. The company needs to get up to speed, pronto. I hope Vodafone (where it took a call upstairs and a third ticket raised to get my DSL line fixed last week) is taking notes in advance of its own venture into unbundled services. It's not tiddlywinks, as Tana Umaga used today.

PS: I've established a discussion thread for the latest Democratic primary round in Indiana and North Carolina. Post yer links and commentary there.

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