Eat Your Landlord
Devised and performed by Long Cloud Youth Theatre
Directed by: Ben Ashby
Te Auaha, 25th May 2021
Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera
Eat Your Landlord is a full-course meal of student life from chef (director) Ben Ashby. Entrées consist of freezing flat, the main dish certainly is Courtenay Place, add a side of lazy flatmate and uninterested landlord, and top it off with after town kick-on dessert. There is plenty to chew through and a substantial amount to digest later.
A movement-based piece, Eat Your Landlord is highly conceptual. Though I struggled to understand the full storyline, I believe Long Cloud Youth Theatre presents various scenes from the typical student lifestyle. The actors twist and contort themselves into various character tropes, forms, feelings, and situations. A single desperate tenant confronts the massive conglomerate that is their property management firm. Two flatmates attempt diplomatic discussion about dishes and toilet paper within a cage, but formal pretense quickly devolves into carnage. A night in town borders on pagan ritual. The ensemble channels frustration, rage, confusion, helplessness, love, and awe through their bodies into the performance.
Eat Your Landlord makes great use of space. The show is roving; the audience wander around the room while the performance happens around, behind, or above them. I often felt uncomfortable or in the way, as if I stumbled upon a tribal ceremony but was welcome nonetheless. As much as I did feel a part of the performance, I also felt alienated.
The lighting and sound design, both by the talented Bekky Boyce, bring the show together. The ever-dripping tap keeps you alert and on edge, while the brilliant soundtrack brings life to the dank room. The lighting (as well as the mismatched carpeted floor) consists of detachable lamps hooked up to hanging extension cords or bare bulbs creating the dark, stark setting, reminiscent of a dingy, but oh-so-cool student flat.
Though at times too conceptually complex to be accessible, Eat Your Landlord is a one-of-a-kind banquet full of young energy, pointed and overdue protest, and chaotic (but free) student life.