Attila The Hun – comedy with heart

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Arts Festival Dunedin and Arcade Theatre Company presents Attila The Hun
By Abby Howells, directed by Alex Wilson.
Wednesday, September 19 – Underground Market.

The night-shift staff at Fat Burger are just your regular folk – those who cook, those who serve, those who lead and . . . Attila the Hun.

In Abby Howells’ lively, funny take on life at a late-night burger joint, the terrifying ruler of the 4th century Hunnic Empire, scourge of Europe, is a popular member of the crew.

Directed by Alex Wilson, this production of Attila the Hun offers a nice mix of verbal and physical comedy, while examining themes of friendship, leadership, and the battle to survive in the modern world.

Arcade regular Orion-Carey Clark tackles the title role head on, bringing plenty of humour to Attila’s fearsome, yet strangely kind-hearted, persona.

Kate Schrader is superb, flouncing and flapping as newly-appointed duty manager Jo, whose grip on the situation is nowhere near as firm as she hopes and believes.

Bringing the remaining late-night crew to life with maximum comic chops are Sofian Scott as Tom Cruise – who finds his famous name an unbearable burden; Rebecca Thompson as surly malcontent Mary-Anne; and Harrison Kennedy as the anxious Ian.

Strolling in and out of Fat Burger in a variety of hilarious “general public” personas, from drunken fools and giggling taggers to syrupy-sweet lovers, are Shaun Swain, Heidi Geissler, and Kat Kennedy.

Costumes by Courtney Drummond help to evoke every fast-food joint you’ve ever been in, and excellent choreography by Sara Georgie supports the cast in a hilarious, slow-motion fight scene that brings the show to its climax.

Dunedin’s Underground Market does a creditable job of doubling as the Fat Burger premises, with clever set design by Shannon van Rooijen and building by Alex Martyn.

Unfortunately, the many load-bearing pillars in the space create some issues with sight-lines, but the Arcade team mostly counter this by moving the action around.

Arcade Theatre Company’s final show for the year, Attila the Hun is yet another imaginative, energetic offering from this young and vigorous team. Recommended.

Attila the Hun continues until Saturday, September 22, at the Underground Market, 175 George St. Performances at 9pm.