Retail Therapy is the brainchild (and first play) of writer Grace-Amelia Vernal and is on at The Basement Theatre as part of Auckland’s Theatre Month. Set in a *fancy* clothing shop, the show is based around the shop’s farcical employees who are battling it out between themselves to be the next store manager. All the bases are covered – we have the resident druggy employee, Mercy, who’s super alty and probably listens exclusively to alt-J; the pretty boy employee, Darren, who can’t stop checking himself out and definitely uses a ring light to take selfies; the funny man, Charlie (who omg I swear is Dave Grohl’s doppelganger); the loveable employee and definitely my favourite, Nina; the borderline evil employee, Vicky; the boring as a square store manager, Stewart and the precocious daddy’s girl shopper, Stefani (as in Gwen, y’know).
The cast (most of whom I hadn’t seen before but are now popping up in every KFC and VTNZ ad on TV) gelled well and the show provided a number of laugh out loud moments. With that said, there were some lulls – the first half was probably 15 minutes too long and the second half had so many catfights and bitch slaps in it, it was hard to keep track. The storyline may also have been better suited to a web-series or mockumentary/The Office/Parks and Rec-style format rather than the theatre show it found itself in. All in all, Retail Therapy was the therapy I needed to make my rainy Tuesday night a lot better but I’m not sure it’s what I would call a must-see. But there is definitely promise in Vernal’s work and I’ll be interested to see what she comes up with next.