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Ladylike; Salonica | Auckland Fringe 2018 (Week One)

There were moments that were quite beautiful in Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette and Salonica. These included some rough ideas which gleamed with potential; others touching but undeveloped. Both productions toyed with the idea of truth and its various iterations – occasionally successfully, other times, not so much. Louise Beuvink’s Ladylike included some interesting moments: a cooking class on a budget (you’ll never think of chicken pate in the same way), an exploration of modern feminine hygiene technology involving heat (worth googling if just for the images) and a fascinating finale drawing upon kabuki. There was plenty of promise here but it blurred genuine storytelling with faux and some flimsy character constructions.

Salonica, on the other hand, with its multiple languages (Serbian, New Zealand Sign Language and English) suggested a more authentic experience as it examined war and friendship. Although the storyline was conventional in its plotting, it’s delivery and characterisation were profoundly touching. There were excellent performances from Shaun Fahey and Mihailo Ladevac but the deeply personal journey has a strange, almost prosaic, twist towards the end – one that, like Ladylike, forced the truth of the performer to rub awkwardly against the world created by the performance.