Review: Juan, Two?
“New Zealand. Beautiful. Wow.” So begins Juan Vesuvius the international DJ. He wastes no time in conveying his almost speechless appreciation of our scrag of land at the tailbone of the world. We’ve heard it all before, but somehow it’s still endearing. To this half-cut audience on a Friday night it’s all gravy and as Juan makes someone in the front row lower their finger slowly into a chutney jar, the less coked up members of the audience relax: we’re in the hands of a master.
Barnie Duncan’s hour long (give or take twenty minutes, so be prepared) Juan, Two? appears to go in some strange and opposite directions. The aforementioned condiment makes an early appearance (you may never want to eat it again, at least not the brown variety); the history of the United Fruit Company and Freddie Mercury’s Indian heritage are all highlights on a tour that dovetails into a dissertation about Soca and its roots in Calypso and Indian music.
Only someone suffering chronic delusions or someone gifted with massive talent would even think of trying to pull this off on a Friday night at 10pm. So much of of what Duncan does is traditional craft: the crowd is worked off the cuff, motifs are introduced and then referred back to at just the right time, peculiarities of the venue are incorporated, the audience provides the finale. Within all this is a show about Latin culture and how the western world sees it and appropriates it and what’s good and bad about that. Wonderfully, it’s also a show about having a really, really great time.
If all theatre is a magic trick, then Juan, Two? has to rate as one of the most effortless and most masterful I’ve seen this year. We could really do with more of this and more of Barnie Duncan.
Basement Theatre, 14 – 17 May, 10pm
Tickets available through Ticketek