Created by: Brynley Stent
BATS Theatre, 16th May 2023
Reviewed by: Zac Fitzgibbon
The frigid winter Wellington climate changes shortly after thunderous applause as Brynley Stent walks onstage. Within seconds, BATS is warm with laughter. Frigid is a hilarious, somewhat semiautobiographical, absurdist sketch comedy about Stent’s seemingly fruitless love life.
I find it clever that Stent manages to create a set with no set. Through her excellent acting capabilities and comic audio effects, we can clearly imagine where each sketch takes place – be it a football field or a family room. What else is clear is her obsession with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, an obsession that somehow remains after whatever that 2019 film was. Refraining from opinions on this feline flop, I will say her takes on the songs Memory and Mr Mistoffelees are very on-brand and downright funny.
I love the frequent audience participation and unbeknownst to me, I somehow become part of one of the sketches. I must say it’s one of the best in the show. There is definitely no bias in the previous statement. As a result of it, Stent makes me acutely insecure about the state of my pillows and mattress.
Projection designs created by Stent herself strongly reinforce the sketches, especially humorous magazine covers and their clickbait headlines. They are utilised excellently throughout the show, through opening credits or exploring Stent’s animalistic childhood.
While most of the comedy is respectful, I am not sure about the segment of the show where the audience participates in whether dating profiles of men holding fish are ‘hot or not’. Nevertheless, the rest of the show gets me bursting with laughter so much I think I was a bit sore afterwards. There is not one quiet moment in Frigid.
It’s easy to see why Stent is a Billy T Award winner, as I don’t think there ever was a New Zealand comedian so clever as magical Brynley Stent. If you want to see a piece that will warm you from the inside out with laughter, Frigid is the show for you.