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

February 25, 2019

Side by Side by Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim is the greatest composer you've never heard of or so this show will have you believe. He does have some recognisable music but you won't see much of it in this production; some is squashed into a medley at the end but huge chunks are missing.

Sweeny Todd and Into the Woods are so well known because they've been made into movies but they weren't even mentioned. There was only one song from West Side Story another well known show, though not as recently on the big screen.

There were several songs performed that were cut from shows and one from a show that was only ever seen once. It's like they were trying to bore the audience with the unfamiliar.

It began a little forced and was sadly marred by continued issues with microphones. Despite this, the performers were excellent, lovely voices, great dancing....but the show lacked a storyline, something for the audience to engage with, and as the songs were by and large unfamiliar there was nothing to hold on to. An exception is the broadly comedic songs which were well received.

As previously mentioned there were snatches of several familiar songs in the ending medley which unfortunately was stretched out into three separate songs, when the one medley would have been sufficient - a bit like the many endings of Lord of The Rings.

What could be a great show is hampered by poor song choices and sound issues.

Performances
: 23 Feb – 22 March (times vary)
Tickets: $52

January 20, 2019

Cool As Lower Hutt Summer Drink Challenge 2019

Following on the tails of the super successful Sweet As Hutt Chocolate Challenge comes a Summer Drink Challenge, Cool As. With three weeks and 15 drinks, that's enough to have one each week day. (Come back to this page for updates as the challenge progresses)

See the full list of participants here

*Our top picks

Fellow Freak Shake – Fellow Café on The Green
Delightfully messy and vegan this is the most expensive pick at $14. Go with a friend and share though you might still have left overs as we weren't really fans.

Hokey Pokey Summer Fix – Fix Federation
Most highly anticipated as it's from the winners of the hot chocolate challenge but it was disappointing. Cheap, waxy chocolate and tasteless shake but a hint of the award winning salted caramel sauce.

All American Berry – Roadhouse Bar & Grill*
Super (toothache) sweet and refreshing. If you like strawberry you'll like this but drink it slowly to avoid a sugar rush.

The Buzz Soda Bar – Buzz
There's something for every taste as it isn't technically a drink but a menu (which seems a little unfair to other participants and very hard to judge).

Capricious Capricorn – The Crooked Elm
The description doesn't give any indication of what flavour it's meant to be and after drinking it I still couldn't tell you. It just tastes like syrup.

Old Fashioned Lemonade – Bellbird Eatery
The first sip is bitter but then you adjust. Lovely. Might be more for those of us that are old fashioned than the kids (but give it a try!).

Citrus Breeze – Hot Gossip Café*
Somehow both sweet and a little bitter at the same time, beautifully citrusy. All drinks should have crushed ice (and a light-up decorative stick you can take home).

Tinc in the Pink – Fellow Café on the Drive
The watermelon ice cubes are a great innovation. The ginless gin tastes like gin, so this drink only works if you like gin.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake – Chai Coffee*
The peanut butter wasn't overpowering and there was a good mix of chocolate, nice amount of cream and sauce on top too. The best so far unanimously.

Berry Delightful Summer Shake – Colab Café
Essentially a strawberry shake with lots of trimmings. Sweet and messy.

Passionpunchy – Gotham Cafe Lower Hutt
Fizzy and sweet but not really to our taste. 


Wish I Was There – Shine Café
The description isn't appealing but the drink is. The kids will love this one - jelly and smoothie and crumbs and an umbrella. Bonus: it's vegan too!

La Vie en Rose – Beforetime Express
Another one where the description put us off and we were pleasantly surprised. A beautiful pink drink that reminds you of Turkish delight.

Summer Breeze T-licious – Cuffs Café
The first mouthful felt sour, then weird then the lovely sweet aftertaste hit. Accompanied by a gorgeous piece of lindt chocolate.

Giuseppe’s Italian Summer – Giuseppe’s
The service was sweet but the drink was bitter.

Overall thoughts: this was a lot harder to critique than the hot chocolate challenge as you aren't comparing like with like. There was more "paper" hanging around but no way to track which drinks you'd already tried; we preferred the booklets.



Rants in the Dark

Emily Writes first came to my attention when she wrote a beautiful piece about abs. Next I heard, trolls had bullied her off the internet for the crime of being a woman who expressed an opinion. Then, magically she was back with a book, Rants in the Dark, which this play is based on.

Her return is triumphant, as is her story. Despite all odds she had kids, despite illness they're ok, despite sleepless nights she's still functioning. Her writing is so honest it's comedic. Motherhood, parenthood is hard. It's being in the trenches. But it's also delightful. It's your heart growing from love for your children, for your partner. It's realising that life is hard but you're harder. She speaks her truth and she speaks to many people.

How on earth does this translate to the stage? Renee Lyons is the face of Emily while Bronwyn Turei and Ameila Reid-Meredith play every other character from voices on the internet to Emily's child and husband. Scenes and characters jump and flow to create the story in vignettes. Featuring actual text from the book including Emily's words, those of her supporters and detractors. It's like a dance, as the actors twist around each other, twirl apart then come together again as entirely new characters.

If you're a parent, if you know a parent, you will find something to relate to. This is real life on the stage.

Performances: 19 January – 16 February, Tues-Wed 6.30pm, Thurs-Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $52

December 4, 2018

Santa Claus

Santa Claus isn't just for children. This show is not recommended for children, but it is recommended for everyone else.

Four "French" performers invite you into their Christmas. Expect family fights, board games, presents, singing and a man in heels. No member of the audience is safe from participation. Though scripted, parts of the performance are improvised to include audience members; it's done so well that even the improv seems scripted. I had to tip my hat at their ability to remember audience members names. It really did feel like everyone was acknowledged and involved - anxiety inducing for some of us.

Favourite parts were the music, which had me dancing in my seat and the cute guy with the eyeliner and heels (call me).

The first performance each evening is early enough to head to straight from work, or after work drinks - what a great impromptu work Christmas outing!

Performances: 4 -15 December, 6pm & 8:45pm
Tickets: $25

November 28, 2018

PSA: The Ghosts of Christmas Parties

It's the night of the staff Christmas party at the beehive. Every member of parliament that's been in the headlines this year is there. The man we love to hate, Winston Peters, will have extra guests - the ghosts of Christmas parties.

Christmas Carols are sung with political lyrics, devious plots are plotted - kidnappings and bombs and last minute Christmas shopping.

Lightening fast changes in costumes and wigs allows a small cast to be a large cast of characters - easily distinguishable by the excellent acting alone.

Of the two Christmas offerings at Circa if you can only see one I'd recommend the pantomime over this unless you're really into politics.


Performances: 24 Nov – 23 Dec (times vary)
Tickets: $35

November 21, 2018

Puss in Boots the Pantomime

After being disappointed last year I didn't have high hopes for Circa's annual pantomime but it was delightful, one might even say "o-o-oh it's magic!"

There were jokes for the adults as well as the kids, nods to current events and almost every popular meme of 2018. Interactions with the audience, adlibbing when things didn't go quite to plan really added to the performance. Of special interest was "shouty kid", the Dame admitted "well, I encouraged them" and a noise competition between two visiting school groups.

Puss in Boots had such a stage presence; singing, dancing, sassing. Though to be fair all the performers could sing and dance. It was a high energy show with twists and turns and the necessary happy ending.

The show pulled myself and my companion out of the stresses of our lives for two hours and we were very grateful. To the man who turned around every time we squealed: we may be adults but we're allowed to have fun.

Performances:17 Nov-23 Dec, Tues-Sat 6.30pm, Sun 4pm

Tickets: $18 (child), $52 (adult)

November 3, 2018

REAL[ISE]

The start of the show is boring and unhygienic as the performers share a lollipop. The weird modern theatre drags throughout the piece but once they are allowed to do their circus acts things get better. You'd think you're safe from audience participation but no, like a comedy or improv show, someone is dragged on stage for what is a pretty pointless runway walk. This show seems to miss the real joy of circus, which was evident on the performers faces when they were allowed to do what they trained so hard for. Admittedly the eye makeup was cool but the rest of the extra stuff could be left behind.


Venue: The Circus Hub, Te Whaea, 11 Hutchison road, Newtown, Wellington
Dates: 3-4 November 2018, 8pm
Tickets: $10

October 27, 2018

Austen Found

It wasn't till Penny (Ashton) introduced the show that I realised Austen Found sounds like "lost and found." An appropriate title for a newly discovered (secretly improvised) musical by Jane Austen - all the actors are lost as they perform this "found" piece.

The theatre was packed and there was even a waitlist to get in. It was one of the most popular items at the 2018 Improv Festival with good reason. The actors were seasoned professionals with excellent voices. There were a couple of hiccups when they forgot character names but they built it into the "script."

We were treated for a performance of Greed and Gullibility.  A couples greed for pineapples, a mans greed for women and woman's greed for admiration were posed against the gullibility of two young women. One women's brother constantly reminded her how stupid she was while the other only realised her gullibility when the guilt of her intended was revealed.

It was very impressive that the cast were able to pull a mostly comprehensible storyline out of thin air and have the audience cheering for the happy ending.