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Janeece Gunton: Herstory

Tue 25 Jun 2013 In: Performance View at NDHA

A gay couple who want a baby sure pick the wrong woman to help them in Janeece Gunton, a pointedly gross exaggeration of a stereotype, whose 'herstory' is on stage at The Basement in Auckland. Janeece Gunton: Herstory is the work of utterly talented writers and actors Yvette Parsons and Thomas Sainsbury. Parsons brings the title character to the stage in all her crass glory, while Sainsbury plays a gay man who gets caught up in her world due to his desire for a baby. The gist is that Janeece is a pokie addicted “wife, mum and gran” who has had enough, and decided she wants to move on from Sky City and go on a casino cruise on the Mediterranean. She turns to dope dealing, benefit fraud, turning tricks and offering to have a baby for a gay couple to make the cash for her trip. “We decided on this storyline because of what's going on in politics at the moment,” Sainsbury says of the surrogacy plot. He explains it’s driven by the legal inconsistency, where a single gay person can adopt, but a couple can’t. “You can adopt as a solo parent but not as a loving homosexual couple, and our character, Travis, thinks this is a denial of human rights. So he decides to father a child taking a more controversial route around the government's restrictions on adoption. “He gets more than he bargained for with Janeece though...” Sainsbury and Parsons have worked on a number of scripts together over the years, most recently on the gothic horror comedy Dolly Mixture which they put on the Auckland Fringe Festival this year. “But this show, Janeece Gunton: Herstory came about firstly because Janeece was a character I wanted to put on stage,” Parsons says. “She just came out of nowhere really, out of me,and we interviewed her inand her story came out. Tom and I experimented with stereotypes and looked at satirical ideas around class and privilege and the script just grew organically.” Parsons says at one level, the play is ‘schlock,’ pointing to a reviewer’s description of it as "a cheap holiday in other peoples' misery". “And yes, it is very bad taste, but that's actually the point. What we're presenting is a dystopia. “This is at heart a deeply political play. It's an experience. The Guntons are our fear - scary because they're dehumanised by violence, poverty and ignorance. And they're powerful. And they're us - without our advantages.” Parsons says we all know that the Guntons and their ilk do exist in the world, though you won't usually find them enjoying a night out at the theatre … but they're at the same time real and a fable; and they've become the playthings of our politicians. “And,yes, it would be nice to fix the Guntons. But they are not fixed. Janeece Gunton: Herstory spirals into an absolute fiasco at the end. And Janeece's attempt at aspirational triumph is bleak. There is no simple answer.” Parsons warns that Janeece Gunton: Herstory is not for “under 18s or anyone who is too earnest”. “You can laugh and walk away from this play. You're allowed to do that. If you feel you want to be redeemed, or that you want Janeece to be redeemed you will come up against it. There is no redemption. “And if you don't want to laugh and walk away, if you seek to understand, then I commend you for that. But there is no simple answer. Tom and I are not offering any solution here. The audience will have to do that for themselves or at least go on asking questions.” JANEECE GUNTON: Herstory Till Sat 29th June 8pm, Basement Theatre Tickets here Jacqui Stanford - 25th June 2013    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Tuesday, 25th June 2013 - 3:10pm

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