September 27, 2016

RCRD: Double Header Home Season Final with visitors Whenua Fatales

Saturday 24th September saw the last home team 2016 bout for Richter City Roller Derby, and they presented it as part of yet another double-header.  The curtain raiser before the final featuring Comic Slams vs Smash Malice saw "turd place"  Brutal Pageant face up against Whenua Fatales from Levin.

Starting as they meant to go on, Pageant put 14 points on the board in the first jam courtesy of Vicious Vegie, who along with Gael Force featured heavily as jammers for this bout, occasionally supplemented by almost every other skater on the short schedule (9 skaters). Two recent transfers to Richter featured in Brutal Pageant's line up - Nixtreme from Santiago Derby Rollers (Chile), and Nerd'iator who most recently skated for Terminal City (Vancouver, Canada). Both brought some strong defense work to the pack and look to become valuable new versatile assets for Richter City. On the other hand, the Fatales brought with them a couple of skaters in need of their cherries popped. Alongside long time Levin skaters Crazy Crab, Battle Panda and the returning from injury Sticky Knickers, were newbies Soul Stealer and Gina-Mite, both of whom took a shot with the star on, with Soul Stealer managing to score against the ladies in pink. Ship Stirrer and Sare-rated Edge also had some notable jams as jammer and blocker respectively.

Despite giving it their all, smiling the long while and being cheered very loudly by the Pageant bench (especially when wining lead jammer status), Whenua Fatales couldn't match Brutal Pageant's force and vigour, with the resulting score being 471 to 52.

The headline of the evening, the final between Smash Malice and Comic Slams was underway after a quick break barely just long enough for the refs and officials to grab some feed, and the Pageant skaters getting dressed and rushed off to relieve the Malice and Slams skaters manning the bar, barbeque, fresh meat table etc.  After a zero all first jam, the leopard print wearing ladies soon asserted dominance as it seemed the Slams jammers were landing penalties left right and centre - primary jammers J'Knee Dodgem and Princess Slayer did end up fouling out later in the game. Moose Hoof and Gnome Diggity did their best to close score gaps with some impressive point scoring jams, but Tu High and Volcanic Ash has some impressing to do themselves. Blocker Bailey's Comet was on form as usual, with Melpractice continuing to grow in her blocking skills.  I did not at all envy the Smash Malice jammer who had to battle to get through an impressively tough three wall put up by Margaret Snatcher, Tuff Bikkies and Gnome Diggity.

The half time score of 119 to 76, Smash Malice ahead, was a foreshadowing of the final score.  There was confusion in the last few seconds of the bout where Slams (and the MCs!) were trying to call a 'one more jam' time out, without realising they had no time outs remaining, so the final whistle blew while Malice were already celebrating their 234 to 140 win.

While this is the end of the home team season, keep an eye out on the Richter City Facebook page for more derby action before the end of the year. National Top 10 finals are coming, and I heard so is another Fresh Meat graduation bout!

September 20, 2016

Hutt Valley Vanguard vs Otautahi Roller Derby

Saturday saw the first ever home bout for Hutt Valley Vanguard, a full contact co-ed derby league based in Lower Hutt, hosted at the still relatively new Walter Nash Stadium in Taita. Joining them on the track was a coed team hailing from Christchurch league Otautahi Roller Derby League.

A predominantly derby playing crowd was present in the stands, there were a handful of locals who'd popped in to see what it was all about, but I can't help thinking a bit more advertising in the complex itself in the lead up to the bout might have increased the amount of new faces in the crowd. I realise HVV is still a fairly new league and the budget is likely not there for much print advertising, but I'm hopeful next time the venue staff are at least aware there's derby on, as when I rang with an enquiry last week I was distinctly told there was "not much on that day".
In addition to the derby players in the crowd there were plenty of familiar faces on and around the track, from Skanda Lass and Tino Turnher on the mic, Richter City aligned refs and officials being, well, refs and officials, to Bubs and Trubs as bench managers for Vanguard , and Zam and Jet guiding the visiting skaters as their benchies (with some interesting things being yelled at times!). Among those skating on the home team were ex RCRD ref and frequent bench manager, Professor Scrape, long time crowd favourite, Meat Train, complete with her signature tights in her first time back on track after a hiatus, along with a few lesser known skater who've popped up at RCRD once or twice. I was excitedly anticipating seeing a number of ORDL skaters again I had seen earlier this year and they didn't disappoint, chiefly Amygeddon and Bionic Ninja. It was also great to see ORDL skating in the North Island after many years without a visit and hope to see them back up again next year.
Side by side with those who've been skating for years were a few skaters from both teams popping their bouting cherries, notably Willie B Hardigan from ORDL who showed enough skill to make me forget he was on his first public outing. Many fantastic hits and walls made against some strong speedy jammers, and the couple of near misses with the stadium wall made the crowd simultaneously cheer and gasp.
Vanguard showed early on they weren't going to make it easy for the visitors, but despite that Otautahi put in all the effort with smiles on their faces and very nearly no signs of slowing down.  They fought to the end, with an impressive final jam from Show Pony bringing their score to 85 against HVV's 270.

Hopefully this is the first of many more derby events at Walter Nash over the coming years.  Until then, don't forget, double header at Kilbirne Rec this Saturday!

September 6, 2016

Richter City 2016: Home Season #3 and NZ Top 10 vs Auckland

The Third and final of the Richter City intraleague pool play occurred this weekend just passed, Comic Slams vs Smash Malice. Though before it got to that, we saw the All Stars take on The Bolts, the A team from Auckland Roller Derby League (ARDL, or Arnold as Zam proudly announced she called them) as part of the pool play for the NZ Top 10 tournament.

Having not seen ARDL for a while, there were some new names to get to know, along with those recognised from previously, such as Arsenall, Baker, Mackenzie and the very well known Terror Satana. RCRD All Stars put forward a team of well recognised ol' faithfuls, with the delightful addition of Margaret Snatcher, giving a strong all around performance and looking like they've been an All Star for years.

The neck and neck and see-sawing lead changes of the first half saw some graceful and on point (and often backwards) jamming from J'Knee Dodgem, and multiple demonstrations on how ARDL jammer Mackenzie earned their slippery fish nickname. At one point it was a struggle of who to be more impressed with, the combined blocking power of Flirty Harry, Resident Evil and Terror Satana, or the Richter jammer up against them. Half time score was 108 to 85, in favour of RCRD. The second half brought more of the same impressive work with at least one foul out for each team, and an interesting display of no advantage no penalty, when Vicious Vegie made a false start but yielded, yet once allowed to skate again, still managed to get through the pack first. Unfortunately for ARDL, the score gap continued to grow, but that did not wipe the smiles off their faces, not even when the final whistle went to a score of 157 ARDL, 238 Richter City. This bout can be seen on Youtube.

After a relatively short break, seven of the All Stars took to the track yet again with their other team mates in Comic Slams and Smash Malice. For the most part, these seven didn't look like they'd just skated a fairly intense bout, and even when Volcanic Ash visited the Wellington Free Ambulance officers, she was still back for more after her mandatory stand-down, her earlier 30 point jam wasn't enough it seemed! A close half time score of 79 to 62 in the favour of Comic Slams. Relative new comers Frankenslide and Sweet Mama Mia continue to show improvement in jamming and blocking respectively - will be looking out for them both next year.

In another few weeks we get another double header, third place in pool play Brutal Pageant take on Whenua Fatales as a curtain raiser for the race for number one Wellington intraleague team for 2016, another Comic Slams vs Smash Malice on September 24th. Details on the Facebook event page.

If you can't wait that long, on Saturday 17th September, head out to Taita (it's not that scary, really!) to the Walter Nash Stadium to watch Hutt Valley Vanguard take on Otautahi Roller Derby League from Christchurch, a match up this reviewer is keen to see as Otautahi has held a special place in their derby heart for many years. Doors open 5pm, follow the Facebook event page here.

If you can't wait even that long, zip down to Christchurch to see Richter All Stars take on the other league from the Garden City, Dead End Derby, in both their final Top 10 pool play bout. That's this coming weekend (10th September), so if you can't make it, keep an eye on the respective Facebook pages for updates on the night. Convicts are also visiting Dunedin Derby that night also for their final Top 10 pool play appearance. After all this, October and the finals aren't too far away, so derby isn't near done for the season yet!

August 10, 2016


Alexander Sparrow is Enigma a white American male of questionable sexuality here to teach you how to pick up women.

There are homoerotic undertones that you'd expect from anyone wearing guy-liner, a look I thought would work well for him but the beanie and steampunk goggles somehow make it harder to focus on his handsome face. Let's be fair, part of the reason for attending is to see the cute guy.

His comments on NZ politics were sound - we may not like John Key but at least he isn't Trump. You've gotta admit in comparison John Key is an awesome leader of this country contrasted to what hell Donald Trump will lead America into if he ever gets elected.

I've seen many of Alexanders shows, I think that Enigma is probably his least offensive character yet, which might be why it just wasn't as funny. It lacks the shock value of De Sade though it does feel like he's trying to make a point with these two pieces that isn't there in his non-character standup. Something about relationships and how the sexes relate to each other or maybe I'm just reading into much into a comedy show.

Tickets: $20

9 August, VK's Comedy & Blues Bar, 8.00pm;
10-12 August, Cavern Club, 8.00pm;
13 August, The BoileRoom, 8.00pm;
13 August, VK's Comedy & Blues Bar, 10.30pm

July 28, 2016

Legendary Divas

Ali Harper is a diva in her own right, she has a beautiful voice and a talent for mimicking others voices too. Her range is huge, not just in notes but also in genre. Amongst what you'd expect she manages to sneak in a little opera . The only part I didn't enjoy was her poke at Julie Andrews, who I consider a queen.

I had expected a static show, an empty stage, a woman singing. Ali has such a huge personality it doesn't feel like one person and her banter with accompanist Michael is right on key. Together they make a singing show a comedy. A normal Circa show creates an emotional reaction in me but Legendary Divas I felt in my blood. I admit to wanting to sing along and thoroughly enjoying the bits where we were encouraged to do so. Then I sang all the way home.

This was great feel good show, though there were bits that touched your heart too. I recommend this for anyone looking for a good time, I think those over 40 would appreciate it most.

Tickets: $39
Performances: 27 July – 20 Aug, 7.30pm (Tues-Sat); 4.30pm (Sun)

July 20, 2016

Young & Hungry 2016 Festival of New Theatre

The Young and Hungry Festival of New Theatre on now at Bats invites you to watch three shows in one night. Not something I would recommend doing but you could. They are timed half an hour apart to allow you some breathing space but it's not enough for me, Bats shows tend to be more confronting than other theatre and I need the time to digest. Each of these shows is achingly, self consciously millennial which may make them painful for anyone over the age of 30.

Show 1: Bloody Hell Jesus (Get Your Own Friends)

This is like every 90's TV show cliche rolled into one. It starts too early so it drags. I think that it tries to make some good points but it misses them (apart from the one about religion being an excuse for people to be fucktards). Apparently seeing Jesus isn't really a big deal but having sex, which doesn't occur within the plot, is. This really has some potential but it needs paring down and a solid ending.

Trigger warnings: loud music, drug use, underage sex, swearing, religious prejudice

Show 2: Like Sex

I think this show is intended to make you uncomfortable, well it succeeds. You'll cringe as every character gets off with someone on stage. But apart from that it is pretty good. The casting and acting could do with some work but the script is solid. The flow from scene to scene with all actors playing either a Greek chorus or scenery is great up till right at the end where they weave in and out of each other and their differences "magically" are fixed. Remove that and change up the actors and this is gold.

Trigger warnings: loud music, sex, rape

Show 3: Dead Days
This was my favourite which I almost didn't stay to see because the blurb in the programme said nothing about the actual show. Of the three it was the best crafted with the most complete and cohesive storyline. And hey Zombies! or are they? This is a huge selling point and should be front and centre to get people in the door. There are only two improvements I could suggest; remove the funeral scene, it's irrelevant and; there needs to be more indicators that someone is 'on the spectrum' other than them stating they are.

Trigger warnings: death, suicide

Side note: someone needs to teach these playwrights about trigger warnings

Performances: 15-30 July; 6:30 Bloody Hell Jesus (Get Your Own Friends); 8pm Like Sex; 9.30pm Dead Days
Tickets: $18 per show

July 8, 2016

Zombies on the Horizon

The title of this exhibition refers to a quote from Douglas Lilburn about the introduction of electronic music. Sadly I'd expected a more exciting subject than experimental music in Aotearoa.

"Music" plays through the small space of the hidden gallery. Who would expect music in a library? The tracks play in a round but there is no indication of the length of any individual piece let alone the whole collection.

There is some range of sound from the dreamy Urban Taniwha to the purely irritating Touché . I'll be honest; more were irritating than weren't. Crackling on Live at Om the Space is identifiable as a bass guitar. Spirit Catcher is spoken word but Orchestra of Spheres sounds like actual music and Live at Off The Deep End sounds like a jazz jam.

It explores new ways of creating, performing and, notating  music. A bit like modern art it can be made with found objects, pretty much "anything capable of making a noise". I freely admit to not being a fan of modern art and I'm not fan of this either. The arty, high brow content may miss the target market and certainly anyone who is attracted by the promise of zombies.

Turnbull Gallery, National Library
23 May - 19 August

July 6, 2016

Richter City home season 2016: #2 Comic Slams vs Brutal Pageant

Game two of the intraleague season for Richter city this year coincided with something called rugby at the cake tin, so crowds weren't the greatest, with suicide seats looking remarkably empty 10 minutes before skate out, but quickly filled out come the announcers Tino TurnHer and Greta Growler introduction of "the team that always wins".

Brutal Pageant skated out first, entering to a 90s hit from Aqua, but were shown up by Comic Slams also entering to an Aqua hit (Cartoon Heroes, of course!), complete with unnerving blue eyebrows, and in the case of benchie Professor Scrape, a strangely enticing sparkly silvery beard, their twirling entrance perhaps indicative of the night to come.  The video clip seen last bout did not make an appearance this time, instead a revisit of the live demonstration which made me giggle, with the ref team looking reminiscent of flight attendants during pre-flight safety debrief, showing us the penalty calls in near complete unison.

The smaller crowd made it seem quieter, with Tino struggling to get vocal support for each of the teams when asked, blaming our reluctance to cheer on the cold. We soon warmed up though.

Slams started as they meant to carry on it seemed, soon after the first whistle, Moose Hoof got in a 29 point jam. It felt like an age since last seeing J'Knee Dodgem skate, it was good to see she hasn't lost her touch at jamming. Looking at the Comic Slams roster, it seemed quite jammer heavy, but so it was good to see some blocker action from traditional point scorers such as Princess Slayer.  On the other team, strong and formidable Pageant blocker Cher Trouble had two jams in the game which had Tino and me, if not others in the venue, positively excited the times she donned the star panty, each time outscoring her blue opponent.

Much like last time, there were a lot of star stashes, with occasional sneaky passes (usually involving Suffer Jet), several quick moving packs, and again it seemed there were a lot of jammer penalties, at one point during the first half Vicious Vegie was on for three jams in a row due to finishing in the box. It was beautiful to see Slayer appearing to check Vegie was okay at the end of the third of those jams after a particularly big hit and looking a bit ragged after the effort.

Of course, it's not always about the jammers. Gnome Diggity was doing some glorious blocking, so often being in the right place at the right time, and at one point Slayer single handedly managed to move an entire Pageant wall just enough for Moose Hoof to squeeze past her without going out of bounds and barely noticed. There were also demonstrations of solid walls keeping jammers from breaking out for nearly a minute.

Half time scores were 130 to 79, in Comic Slams favour.  While initially Brutal Pageant came out of the half time break strong and meaning business, Slams also showed this, in a distorted echo of the first half, Slayer soon scored a 29 point jam. Pageant, already down a jammer with Tarenosaurus Wrex managing the bench, lost Vegie to her 7th penalty partway through the half, couldn't keep up with the Slams jammers, and wasn't helped with an injury to Cher Trouble. This was quickly followed by all on track taking a knee for a second injury, this time for Moose Hoof. Here's hoping these two aren't kept off skates for too long.

Final score was in favour of Comic Slams, 263 to Pageant's 149.  Next bout will see Smash Malice face up against the victor, on Saturday 3rd September, a double header also seeing the All Stars taking on Auckland Roller Derby League as part of the pool play for top 10 champs. Keep checking RCRD's Facebook for details of this bout closer to the time.

If you can't wait till September, the Convicts take on Bay City Rollers and Swamp City Roller Rats in a double header in Palmerston North on 30 July, for their pool play in the champs. Keep an eye on SCRR's Facebook for further information.

July 4, 2016

Stage Kiss

I had expected Stage Kiss to be a romance but was surprised to find it a comedy. If there was romance I somehow managed to miss it.

All the characters were irritating but I assumed that was intentional. They were caricatures rather than representations of real people, appropriate for a play where most of the actors play, well, actors.

It got very meta - a play within a play which mimicked aspects of "life" within the play. Actors questioning why an audience would view a play and comparing sex on screen and on stage to masturbation caused scattered self conscious laughter.

I found the play enjoyable, though I laughed often it wasn't uncontrollable nor was I was in stitches. The second half dragged unnecessarily, it could have been halved with no loss to the story.

It's good fun but not raucous. Although the play raises interesting questions about relationships, including those of the audience to the actor, it lacks any real depth.

Performances: 2-30 July (check for times)
Tickets: $46

June 16, 2016


solOthello is a one man show (solo-Othello, see what they did there?) based on Shakespeare's Othello. Don't like Shakespeare? That's ok! Neither did the guy who wrote it! (Regan Taylor - he stars in it too)

Othello is a tragedy and it did get pretty deep at the end. But don't be turned off, three quarters of the show is very funny. Regan isn't shy about adapting his show to his audience, asking late comers where they'd come from (overseas it turned it, I assume it was the difficulty finding a park due to the Noodle Markets), and telling one patron to answer their phone when it rang. Weirdly, another phone rang later in the performance - have people forgotten their manners?

The most amount of laughs came when Regan forgot a line and improvised with "a rhyming couplet I don't remember". When one member of the audience congratulated him on this he said he could try to remember. It should be noted that the lights were up on the audience for the whole performance, this made it feel like a dialogue between us rather than a show.

Regan is an amazing actor. With the aid of three masks (and his own handsome face) he plays three characters. Othello; Desdemona who never actually speaks; the scheming Iago and; Roderigo as a fool providing great comedy. Even the way he moves changes.

I will admit to sitting down with a sense of dread. Who really wants to watch a tragedy? (You could cross the foyer to the other theatre and watch King Lear) I was pleasantly surprised, this wasn't high brow; it was funny and accessible. Yes, there were the obligatory dead bodies but they never littered the stage, another bonus of the actor having to stand up to play the next part.

Tickets: $25
Performances: 15-18 June, 7:30pm