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Sunday 11 October 2015

Bringing slasher to the stage

Posted in: Performance
By Jacqui Stanford - 16th August 2015

After his all-male Titus and time-jumped The Importance of Being Earnest, gay Auckland director Benjamin Henson is taking his boundary-bashing work into the slasher genre with new show Not Psycho.


Henson formed theatre company Fractious Tash when he moved to New Zealand from London. Since his arrival in Auckland he’s been winning audiences over by pushing theatre convention to its limits.

That’s been possible thanks to agreat relationship with Q Theatre, and its scheme ‘Q Presents’, which has allowed young companies like his to bring new works to the stage.

Described as Henson’s most ambitious experiment yet, Not Psycho was devised by the company of six actors and written entirely by Henson, who has tried to retain the filmic qualities of Hitchcock-inspired classics.

“The idea came out of where we wanted to go next as a company. And we felt with the previous shows, with Titus and with Earnest, we had done pop culture twists on classics, and what we wanted to do as a company now was to see if we could put that same lens onto a show that was completely original and completely our own.

“We also wanted to have that same sort of pop culture twist, but work the other way, and use the Alfred Hitchcock Psycho as the springboard, and then build an original story from there.”

Benjamin Henson
Henson hopes it gives people that slasher thrill and scare. “We wanted to play on people’s expectations of what that would involve. We’ve actually gone quite far away from Psycho as just the starting point for the piece. And what we’re looking into is the age-old question of whether violent films make violent people.”

Film techniques will be used through stage design, which will reference the voyeuristic feel of the slasher genre and widescreen feel of movies.

“The piece is full of beautiful and striking images that we’ve been playing with in the room,” Henson says. “And once that all comes together with the lights and the sound at the design, there’s a few moments that even though the piece is primarily quite violent and very dark, we’ve gone for beauty as a base. It’s about finding a beauty in that darkness – and that’s what stays with us. That’s what haunts us.”

But don’t be too worried – Henson promises it’s a great night out, despite the darkness. “The whole show is like a psychedelic trip. It’s an exciting piece that we hope people are going to be talking about. The kind of piece you could watch more than once and you’d always get something different out of it.”

Not Psycho is Q Loft until August 29th.

Tickets here

Jacqui Stanford - 16th August 2015

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