Taking a hard look

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Thomas LaHood and Jo Randerson, of Barbarian Productions, will perform the comedy Soft 'n' Hard at Repertory House next week.

THEY’RE husband and wife, parents, business partners and entertainers – and now they’re exploring their lives together on stage.

Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood will perform their comedy Soft ‘n’ Hard at Repertory House next week.

The couple have made different projects together, but recently they were both looking into creating their own solo shows.

Randerson said she was focusing on how there was sometimes a limited range of female roles to play, such as a very upset female character, or passive female character.

LaHood said he was also looking at his peers, friends and himself and how they had ended up becoming stay-at-home dads or primary caregivers for their children while their partners were in more full-time employment, “yet sort of still struggling to change some of our more entitled male habits”.

LaHood said at one point they just looked at each other and thought they were in similar territory.

“They’re both about being stuck in a way of seeing yourself as a man or a woman that you don’t actually really believe in, but you still can’t really get out of.

“We decided to smash them together and make it into a show together.”

The design of the show was also important, and had been nominated for production design at last year’s Wellington theatre awards.

“The design is very integrated with the performance in a really, really exciting way.”

Randerson said the topic of the show was quite a tricky one to talk about, as the area was prone – like other sensitive or difficult topics – to spring quite quickly to argument.

“We are both clowns and comedians. We care about using those tools to soften quite tense discussion areas.

“It’s definitely a funny show, but you can feel the audience also relate at different points or feel challenged at different points.”

Each audience also brought something different to the show, she said.

“One of the joys for us I think, is kind of feeling the different reactions of people.”

Sometimes people were very moved, she said, while another asked if they had been recording the arguments they’d been having in their kitchen.

“A lot of couples said that it really rang true with them.”

Randerson said she had even been told that one couple had used part of the show in their marriage vows.

Randerson said the show wasn’t a play, but rather featured a lot of physical comedy, and the set was quite a strong element.

“It’s a great date show for people in new relationships or old relationships, straight relationships, gay relationships, any sort of relationship,” LaHood said.

“Our son describes the show as, ‘it’s a show about two monsters who turn into people, get married and then have lots of arguments’.

“I think that is a really good description of the show and it’s super funny and a little bit close to the bone and will probably leave you feeling like you really relate to it.”

Along with performing Soft ‘n’ Hard, Randerson and LaHood will be holding a Dress Up Jam during the White Night on Saturday, May 5, in the Invercargill Public Library foyer from about 6pm.

“It’s for all ages, we just provide a lot of cool dress ups and facilitate a little bit of dressing up and playing,” LaHood said.

“We thought it might be nice to bring something that was for all ages as well and contribute to a bit more kind of community-level programming.”

LaHood encouraged the public to get out and enjoy as many shows during the festival as they could.

“I know there are a lot of really great shows in the programme that I’ve seen already, including Julia Croft’s wonderful one-woman show If There’s Not Dancing At The Revolution, I’m Not Coming.

“It could be a good companion piece to ours in a way, it’s sort of a different angle on some similar feminist questions. It’s a wonderful, wonderful show.”

Soft ‘n’ Hard, Repertory House, Thursday, May 3, and Friday, May 4, 7.30pm. Book at TicketDirect.

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