October 1, 2020

The Glitter Garden

Four drag queens enter a theatre, hilarity ensues. The Glitter Garden is the first drag show specifically for kids. Wellington showed out in full force to support the show dressed in their very sparkliest best.

Most of the jokes seem to be pitched at the adults in the audience but the kids were certainly enjoying themselves, at times running ahead of Hugo who managed quite well to pull them back into line and stay on script. All of the secondary characters had their lines and music pre-recorded which wasn't always easy to understand - but being drag there was the expected lip synching. 

There was dancing too so it may have been a good thing they only had to lip synch the singing as the performers would likely have been out of breath.

Circa has produced something unexpected for these school holidays. All the performers are drag queens, all tickets are only $15 and there's even an option to pay it forward by buying tickets for others so no one has to miss out.

If your kids enjoyed drag queens and want to see more then check out Ru Paul's Drag Race star Nina West reading stories for kids on her YouTube Channel.

Tickets: $15

Performances: 30 Sep – 10 Oct, Tues – Sat 11am & 6.30pm; Sun 4th Oct 4pm

You can find out more about the show, support, purchase books or the soundtrack on their website https://www.glittergarden.nz/

November 17, 2019

Alice in Wonderland the Pantomime

It's the Pantomime whirl season again! This year Alice in Wonderland gets Circa theatre's homegrown twist.

Alice (and panto dame Majorie Banks Street not to be confused with "Marsh banks") follows the white rabbit through the Justin Lester memorial tunnel on Mount Victoria into Wonderland. It's the sort of place where Wellington is turned on it's head and what Simon Bridges thinks of the beautiful Jacinda Ardern is what she's actually like.

And that's just the start of the political jokes. As a voting adult I felt pretty inadequate that I didn't get all the allusions. (Though I did spot Winston early on in the piece.) These, as well as references to Ru Paul's Drag Race, the orange skinned leader of the free world, walls and classic New Zealand music will sail over the head of your children. But they'll enjoy every minute of it.

There's all the classic panto elements. We're lucky enough to have two panto dames (because all the roles go to men); the traditional poor widow woman ("oh" ...though her husband, Kent Terrace, is only dead to her) and the cackling Queen of Hearts. Many "dun-dun-dun's" but no hisses for the bad guys, plenty of "he's behind you" and a lovely part where the children get to participate on stage (with photos! #circatheatre).

Even better than last years the whole family will love this pantomime.

Performances: 16 November - 22 December (times vary)
Tickets: $18 (child), $52 (adult)

October 13, 2019


Sensationally* named and erroneously ticketed as a romantic comedy Cock has made it's way to Circa theatre. John is paralysed by indecision between his dramatic ex boyfriend and his overly understanding new girlfriend.

From the title you'll expect something more explicit, certainly with more swearing, but I don't think the word is actually ever spoken on stage.

It's a full 90 minutes without an interval, probably because the dragging last scene takes up the whole second half. It does eventually end but it doesn't really conclude.

All of this would make you think it wasn't enjoyable. But it was! The acting was excellent, you can watch any member of the small cast emote perfectly whether it's their line or someone else's. It was very funny, often pulling out awkward laughs as actors simulated nudity and sex. Most of the time this was managed well but there were a few instances where actors continued before the audience had settled down.

It raises questions about who we are, what title we use and highlights our need to just have someone to hold on to.

*to cause sensation, not well named

Performances: 12 October - 9 November (times vary)
Tickets: $52

September 9, 2019

The Pink Hammer

Opening night of The Pink Hammer at Circa on Saturday was a resounding success with a clever script and spot-on casting making this must-see show for fans of Kiwi comedy.

Four would-be handywomen, Louise, Helen, Siobhan and Annabelle turn up for their first Pink Hammer workshop only to be sadly disappointed. Keenly anticipating a practical carpentry course run by Maggie, a female furniture builder, they find she appears to taken a runner. Determined to get their money’s worth, they coerce a reluctant Woody, Maggie's husband and out-of-work carpenter, to teach them himself. It’s his workshop after all and probably his fault his wife has left!

The women's reaction to Maggie’s absence reveals much about their personalities and prejudices but as the story unfolds we learn there is more going on than we first thought.

This is an outstanding performance from a strong cast, supported by an excellent set and music, particularly the poignant songs from Siobhan. Full of truly hilarious moments with a surprising twist in the tail, this play is definitely worth a night out.

July 24, 2019


An older woman and a younger woman open the show, fighting for a pair of Orchids. Are they Persephone and Demeter? Later there are references that feel like Medusa. But overall there is no discernible storyline to ORCHIDS, although it did seem like there was at points - till the dancing wandered off into something else.

A diverse cast - not the expected slim, white, young female - helped give this show some interest. They especially seemed excited to be on stage. I would have liked if ORCHIDS had managed to evoke emotions other than confusion or brief surprise.

A trigger warning for those that have issues with violence.

Performances: 24-27 July
For times, tickets and further details click here

July 20, 2019


It's not often Te Papa hosts anything on their stage other than conference speakers. Extra staff are on hand to direct people not accustomed to the venue, all museum parts are roped off and any hope of having a late night look around, or sneak peek at the new Te Taiao Nature exhibit are crushed.

A small crowd gathers waiting for the doors to open. Finally, we're allowed in. There are no allocated seats. Greetings are heard as old friends find each other, a hug, a kiss then a seat shuffle so they can sit together. Pretty soon the shuffling becomes harder as more people arrive.

A dark stage. A tiny mountain of sand surrounded by a large ring (I do not envy the cleaners) are the only stage decorations. Breath, haunting, fills the large darkened theatre - a Goddess is on stage.

From flowing, sweeping costumes to throbbing beats, from lights that make water appear on stage to movements both jerking and fluid Opepū illustrates the six atua wahine (Māori Goddesses) who control the winds of the world.

The audience are enthralled, there's not even a whisper the whole performance in the packed theatre where everyone seems to know someone. As the stage lights go down at the end of the show there's a pause - is it over? - then one brave person starts clapping and the theatre erupts in cries and applause.

Contemporary dance can be a bit hit and miss, in my experience, as can culturally based performances. It might be too artsy and the audience may not understand. But with all the potential to miss the mark Onepū manages to hit it squarely.

Performances: June 28 - August 22
Check times, locations and ticket sellers here

July 10, 2019

The Dunstan Creek Haunting

"If there's something strange in your neighborhood..."

So goes the familiar theme tune that introduces the audience to The Dunstan Creek Haunting at Circa Theatre. Lulled into a sense of security by the music and the ebullient duo, David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache introduce us to the sites and the stories of the gold mining days in Central Otago. Their tales begin with the tragic tales of 'Somebody's Darling' and the Chinese miners who refused credit by the mean-spirited grocer before morphing into the world of murder.

It's not long before we realise someone or something may have followed the duo out of the goldfields. Unexplained phenomena disturb the audience, strange occurrences disrupt the performers and a sense of dread permeates the theatre before the final denouement.

The more nervous were squealing while even the more cynical were unsettled and jumpy. The excellent stagecraft, sound and lighting all contributed to ratchetting up the tension and paranoia. For those of you who enjoy the gothic and the ghostly, this is well worth making the effort. Remember to sleep with the lights on when you get home though...

Performances: 9-20 July
For tickets, times and further details click here

July 7, 2019

The Aliens

“Where are the aliens?”

“In the basement!” laughs the receptionist at Te Whaea, Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington.

The Basement is an appropriate venue for this play. Concrete and steel surrounds a sparse set, befitting of this play which makes no effort to soften it’s story.

Jasper (Jonny Potts) and KJ (Jack Sergent-Shadbolt) sit at a rough table out the back of a café. They have been musicians, perhaps they are geniuses. They certainly think a lot, but circumstances mean they have had little formal education, and they seem trapped in their world.

Young Evan (Dryw McArthur) comes across them as he is putting out the café rubbish bags. He doesn’t know what to make of them. Jasper and KJ see their role to enlighten Evan in their view of the world.

Cassandra Tse directs the trio through an intense 100 minutes. Her production is consistent. The ‘thrown together’ nature of the venue (including hired rostrum holding upright seats), the minimalist set, even the rumble of Toi Whakaari students coming and going above our heads all seem to contribute to the atmosphere. The audience is drawn into the story Jasper and KJ bring to us. What will the effect be on the innocent and naive Evan? I recommend you go along to find out. If this sounds like your sort of play, then you won’t be disappointed. (.. and remember to take some cash for the bar!)

The Aliens by Annie Baker at Te Whaea, July 2019

May 6, 2019

Waiting for Godot

You're confronted with a slab of concrete, two concrete walls either side, a lone bare tree reaching for the sky. It could be the side of a highway anywhere. It's a desolate landscape. A huge achievement within a theatre.

The actors are all excellent including one who threw himself on the stage. They created believable characters despite the odd subject matter...and odd characters to be fair.

Waiting for Gadot is a literary classic but it's also pointless and boring. I was warned beforehand that nothing happens but I assumed it would be like Friends or Sienfield, where it would still be entertaining and manage to come to some sort of conclusion. Theatre can be thought provoking but also enjoyable, this wasn't.

Negative reviews aren't popular but we pride ourselves on honesty. The production itself was great but the material wasn't (sorry English teachers of the world).

Performances: 4 May ‑ 1 June (times vary)
Tickets: $52

May 2, 2019

Conversations with Dead Relatives

Do you know your whakapapa? You may think you do, but you do you really?

Imagine being mocked by an ancestor for losing connection with your roots, for mixing up your memories. Was that story about this uncle or that one?

I'd expected crying, sad stories about how much you miss your grandmother. This was so much more, it was story telling at it's best. Finding how my story intertwines with yours - whether it's by location or, if we go far enough back, our shared ancestors.

Interesting points were made about the intersection of Māori and Pakeha culture. How it's our joint history, and there were forces keeping couples apart on both sides. A point was made that a picture of a Māori ancestor was missing her moko but it also could have been the technology. Let's be honest, we'd be more comfortable if the technology was at fault.

It's not clear if the stories that make up this play are factual or, if they are, if these people are related. Regardless they tell the history of the people of New Zealand, back to their homelands.

It was a little hard to focus on the performance as the person next to me was manspreading so I was forced to nestle close to my companion. Perhaps he was made too comfortable by the warm welcome we recieved to the theatre; they even had a tin of homemade baking, a lovely touch.

Performances: 1-11 May (times vary)
Tickets: $35