Suri Vs Shiloh| Auckland Fringe 2015

So we know that a large portion of the world we live in today is obsessed by celebrity culture. Not just the innocent ‘oh so who’s dating who NOW?’ superficial gossip that you could pick up in your local Woman’s Weekly, but the slightly scarier version: the fans that willingly use the plastic crammed in their designer wallets to put more plastic into their butts and boobs in a last bid attempt to look like clones of their idols.

And according to the creators of Suri vs Shiloh, a quick fast forward to 2025 shows that these mind-addled star struck fans will have lost none of their former enthusiasm, gravitating with certainty to the next generation of Hollywood cherubs. Except of course now the sweet innocence of TomKat ‘n’ Brangelina’s ‘little girls’, well, isn’t quite so sweet anymore. Not to mention they seem to have more than a few issues that dominate their first world problems.

Susannah Smith-Roy and Phoebe Borwick, play the lead roles of Suri and Shiloh respectively. The story of these two born-into-fame celebs is essentially a long overdue coming-of-age chronicle celebrating the trivial lives of the rich and famous.

Scandalous headlines are broadcast from across the globe (which in this fame-centric culture is limited to the latest from Hollywood and the BBC’s Sixteen Minutes) while the girls themselves alternatingly reveal moments of emotional collapse. For instance, Shiloh simply can’t go through with her ‘nude for food’ campaign and Suri’s desire for rebellion against her father takes her to the all too clichéd desire to rob a bank; ironic, considering cash is the one shortage she’s never had to encounter.

Throw into the mix a couple of star-crazed Aussie teenage stalkers with ridiculously exaggerated bogan accents, a few protective if somewhat manic parental displays by Brangelina alongside a Peter Pan version of Tom Cruise; and of course, a variety of therapists, prison guards, talk-show hosts, all of whom are one-dimensional, and it’s a hairy rollercoaster ride for our Hollywood princesses.

The show’s underlying theme vaguely seems to assert the old adage that no matter who you are, it’s a lonely ride being young and beautiful and rich, especially in this technology indoctrinated world where your cyberspace footprint is followed by millions worldwide.

O boo hoo.

Because what’s really disappointing is that while both actors are incredibly versatile, with a swathe of impressive skills, the narrative is utterly bland. Both Smith-Roy and Borwick prance, parade and strut their stuff but their American accents are terrible, the overdone Australian stereotypes are boring and the flashback to Shiloh’s tour to Japan is offensive. If this is meant to be satire then the work needs extensive dramaturgical re-structuring to make it any more than an excuse to giggle at frivolous celebrities.

It seems a pity that director Lana Walters (who, along with Roy-Smith and Borwick, co-wrote the show) seems to be focused more on creating opportunities for quick guffaws, speedy costume changes and Tom Cruise voiceovers that never quite hit the mark. The result is an unrelentingly tortuous tale of these two divas’ lives; a narrative that is unfortunately as familiar as it is predictable.

And wait, isn’t the show called Suri vs Shiloh? Sorry girls, but if the sum of animosity between our two leads is supposed to be encapsulated in an arduous badly rhymed exchange then it might need a completely new title.

#celebrityculture #theatre #fringe #review