Loving Helen

by Anna Chinn / 26 April, 2008
A passionate entreaty to the Prime Minister.

Perhaps because in politics she has always been about cranial and not carnal knowledge, has favoured rhetoric over the erotic, the Prime Minister's sex life intrigues and/or perplexes the nation.

In 2005, before the last election, essayist Richard Meros used that intrigue as the founding block from which to build a discourse on such topics as Rogernomics, gender studies and bodily fluids. He called the philosophical and satirical result On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover. Then, in 2007, mindful of the next election and with funding from Creative New Zealand (thus indirectly from the arts minister herself), actor Arthur Meek and director Geoff Pinfield mined that essay for dramatic possibilities - and struck gold when their one-man show premiered at Bats Theatre in Wellington in January this year.

On the Conditions is now touring nationally. In it, Meek plays Meros, presenting his essay as a PowerPoint-aided lecture and trying to convince us: a) that Clark must take a young lover to ensure her political survival; b) that Clark's acquisition of a young lover will benefit the country; and c) that he, Richard Meros, between whose brown wool vest and brown tweed trousers exists a certain chemistry, should be that young lover. (The latter conclusion bringing a spontaneous applause from the near-capacity audience on the night I attended.)

Meros, furthermore, intends the tour of his lecture to bring him to Clark's attention, so that he can gain the proximity necessary for him to persuade her to take him as her young lover.

Absurd. Brilliant. Delightful.

Meek is the ideal thespian suitor to Meros' satyric satire. Watching him, as Meros, enthuse earnestly and volubly about his fantasy must be what it's like to be transfixed by one of those evangelist types. His left eyebrow alone is worthy of note. The essayist hopes to persuade. The eyebrow, in being set in an ever-so-slightly-raised position, is beneficial to the persuasiveness of the essayist's face. Hail, eyebrow. And hail, Meek's command of intonation and comic timing, too.

The show lasts a mere hour, and is so thick with ideas that you barely have time to notice whether Enough is Going On for it to be Theatrical (one of those things only reviewers consider).

But it certainly has its climactic moments - one involving Hayley Westenra, and the other Clark in a secret, sumptuous chamber of Premier House. And the PowerPoint helps, with its illustrations ranging from bullet-pointed lists to a photograph of a potato substituting for Jim Bolger.

Pinfield and Meek have done an excellent job of whipping something from the page up on to the stage.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Transport Ministry whistleblowers feel vindicated by inquiry's findings
76707 2017-07-21 07:07:09Z Politics

Transport Ministry whistleblowers feel vindicated …

by Jane Patterson

Whistleblowers forced out of their jobs welcome a State Services report, but question the culture at the Ministry of Transport that ignored them.

Read more
Airways spends $11,417 on farewell book for departing CEO Ed Sims
76704 2017-07-21 06:41:19Z Business

Airways spends $11,417 on farewell book for depart…

by Zac Fleming

Airways says a review has been launched after a photobook which cost $11, 417 was gifted to its outgoing CEO Ed Sims.

Read more
A toxic culture may not be why Uber’s CEO was ousted
76421 2017-07-21 00:00:00Z World

A toxic culture may not be why Uber’s CEO was oust…

by Donna Chisholm

Travis Kalanick’s departure from Uber followed the firing of more than 20 staff after an internal investigation.

Read more
War for the Planet of the Apes – movie review
76658 2017-07-21 00:00:00Z Movies

War for the Planet of the Apes – movie review

by James Robins

The final instalment shows the Planet of the Apes trilogy has continued to evolve.

Read more
Whistleblowers forced out of job too early - inquiry
76671 2017-07-20 14:35:27Z Politics

Whistleblowers forced out of job too early - inqui…

by RNZ

Ministry of Transport whistleblowers suffered "unnecessary hurt" in a restructure process involving convicted fraudster Joanne Harrison.

Read more
Win tickets to Auckland Theatre Company’s Nell Gwynn
A Maori seats referendum is a bad idea – Brexit proves it
76639 2017-07-20 10:07:41Z Politics

A Maori seats referendum is a bad idea – Brexit pr…

by The Listener

The folly of reducing complexity to a single question has been amply demonstrated in the aftermath of Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

Read more
With Shane Jones, NZ First is hoping to tap into the Trump zeitgeist
76375 2017-07-20 00:00:00Z Politics

With Shane Jones, NZ First is hoping to tap into t…

by Bevan Rapson

NZ First finally gets its long-awaited transfusion of red-bloodedness, and aims to appeal to the same kinds of disaffected voters who supported Trump.

Read more