Cameron Jones in High Rise

High Rise

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Hawke's Bay Arts Festival /
24 October 2019 /
By Ian Thomas

Cameron Jones’ theatre is fresh and physical. As he plays out the rise and fall of one man he draws us in to witness a character and a time that most of the audience well remember. The go-get-em eighties: “You’re in business to make money, not friends!” 

The venue is the warehouse that once was home to the presses that churned out the Herald Tribune. At the far end of the hall, as we enter, our actor plays out the humdrum repetition of an office worker: sleep, ablute, commute, work, pub, drink, commute, stagnate, sleep, repeat. He leaves, and we follow through to the main hall. It’s huge and bare save for some seating and lighting. The set darkens, the audience as hushed as they will ever be. Our (anti) hero Henry Lewis, appears beneath a single spot light, skipping (a fighter’s training) as he tells us the beginnings of his tale. Jimmy Kirkpatrick has told him, in a pub, to get into property if he wants to make money, and boy does he want to make money, he wants to be somebody! Cameron Jones’ dynamic one-man show, based on a true story, takes us from entry-level real estate agent to record breaking property tycoon. 

The physicality of the performance is remarkable. Jones skips, dances, contorts, and does a headstand on a briefcase. He covers the large performance area with grace and ease. Using audience members as characters so adroitly and seamlessly that they don’t have a moment to question their inclusion. His use of simple props is clever and often comical; the swivel chair as a crane and briefcase as a fax machine are stand-outs. His silhouette against the back wall is a running effect. It gives the simple setting another dimension including alter-ego images of Lewis. 

Although set in the eighties, it’s a cycle and a story that are familiar throughout all ages. Jones is masterful in his storytelling. He mixes mime, clowning, dance, audience, and space beautifully. Certainly one of the best original works of the festival. 

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