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REVIEW: "Banging Denmark" at PIP Theatre

I recently attended the Saturday matinee performance of 'Banging Denmark' at PIP Theatre, and I'm thrilled to share my impressions of this captivating production. The play, written by Van Badham, is a rollercoaster of emotions, seamlessly weaving humour and social commentary, leaving audiences (mainly the women) oscillating between rage and empowerment. 

The story revolves around Aussie Jake Newhouse, a management consultant with a dubious side gig as a toxic male podcaster and self-proclaimed pick-up genius. Aptly named ‘Banging Denmark’ as Jake pursues a Danish librarian in an attempt to 'bang' her, although she is not interested in the slightest. It takes a hilarious turn as he enlists the help of his enemy, academic feminist Ishtar, for flirtation tips. This was my first visit to PIP Theatre, nestled in the charming corner of Park Road in Milton. The venue's inviting ambiance, complete with a delightful terrace adorned with plants, and a fully air-conditioned theatre, is adaptable for a variety of productions.

While my schedule did not permit lingering for post-performance discussions, I wanted to commend the cast for their immersive portrayals. Rijen Lane, embodying the character of Jake, successfully lives up to the stereotype that 'J' names are often trouble; he truly embodied the essence of a red-flag persona. From the play's outset, Jake's awful advice on seduction sets a bold and infuriating tone. Ishtar (Tegan Braithwaite), on the other hand, emerged as a quirky and passionately driven personality, captivating the audience with her unconventional and unpredictable charm. Denyse (Janaki Gerard), Ishtar's hilariously protective and intelligent best friend, contributed to the ensemble with her adorable presence. Toby (Dudley Powell) emerged as a lovable mathematician who navigates the complexities of love with endearing cluelessness. Amelia Slatter, brought the character of Anne to life with flair, complete with a Danish accent and attitude. But she’s not all that she seems… 

The staging, characterised by simplicity and intimacy, fostered a genuine connection with the audience. Laughter echoed throughout the theatre, a testament to the cleverly crafted script and the ensemble's adept and authentic delivery. The chemistry between the actors, under the astute direction of Heidi Gledhill, was the highlight of the play for me. The pacing ensured a seamless transition between scenes, sustaining audience engagement throughout both acts. I will say that Jake's journey to redemption is highly satisfying, complete with a random dance number at the end that adds a delightful touch. 

The unexpected camaraderie with the strangers seated next to me added an extra layer of enjoyment to the theatrical experience. The shared laughter, whether in response to the cringeworthy moments involving the misogynistic lead, the brilliantly delivered one-liners, fantastic physical comedy, or even the breaking of the fourth wall, created a unique bond among the theatregoers. Theatre, after all, is as much about the collective energy of the audience as it is about the performance on stage. 

'Banging Denmark' at PIP Theatre emerges as a compelling piece of theatre, blending laugh-out-loud humour, social commentary, and poignant moments. For those seeking an evening of thought-provoking entertainment, this production proves to be a commendable choice. Now playing until March 23rd. Note: Contains strong coarse language and adult themes... duh.


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