December 4, 2017

Reflections: New Zealand Women in Art

"Small but perfectly formed," a woman murmured as she passed me on her way out of the New Zealand Woman in Art exhibition. I had to agree.


Exhibitions at the Katherine Mansfield House and Garden in the past have been a little stifling. So many things in one room you could barely move without bumping something. No space for contemplation.


This exhibition is a bold endeavor "to create a space which reflects women's perspectives and expands the conversation" by showing images of women by women.


Ten, well selected, pieces from the BNZ art collection are given room to breath with just one poster board narrative as accompaniment. Even though I generally don't appreciate modern art I found two pieces I could engage with. This speaks well for viewers who are more open minded.


The museum has been updated too. I can't place my finger on exactly what the changes are but the house seems lighter; a layer of clutter has been removed, furniture and trinkets have been slightly repositioned but are now visible. It's believable that it was once a home.


Open: 15 November - 25 March
Cost: $8 (museum entry fee)

November 24, 2017

Sing it Wrong

The concept is great: take any popular song and write a humorous version of the lyrics. Add a bunch of different performers and that pretty much sums up Sing it Wrong. It's easy to see why this format has been nominated for Best Regular Show but unclear why it's not more popular; the majority of the audience appeared to be there in support.

The host(esse)s introduced all the acts like we should know who they are but I only recognised one name. It would have been nice to have a run down on who each person was, especially as it was promoted that not all of them were normally performers.

There were some good lyrics, some good singing but only one act really bought the two elements together without relying on sex or swearing for cheap laughs. Emma Wollum's voice was exceptional, it sounded like she was recorded. Her lyrics were topical, amusing and thought provoking. Yes, Paddles death was an assassination. You're no ones favourite Mallory, a version of Valarie about The Babysitters Club, deserves honourable mention.

Based on the fact that it's nominated for "Best Regular Show" there should be another one coming up soon. But, unfortunately they haven't promoted when that is or I'd tell you.

November 22, 2017

Peter Pan the Pantomime

All of Wellington mourned when Circa announced 2016 would be the last Roger Hall Pantomime. But this did not mean the demise of the ever popular summer production. Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry, the wonderful pair who wrote the hilarious Destination Beehive 2017, took up their pens to provide us with this years appropriately heavily political panto; Peter Pan the Pantomime.

It was a shame neither of them acted, it would be a treat to have Helen Clarke wonder on stage and face off against Captain Hook (Simon Leary). He was excellent, dashing and dastardly, a very strong performer. The lost boys of New Zealand parliament (who lost their seats in the recent election) were great dancers too. Mother and daughter, Katie Pie and Xena Lily, could have carried the whole thing themselves if they'd needed to.

The first song was a little iffy, we were unable to understand any of the lyrics, and a couple of the others questionable. But from Captain Hook's Hooked on a Feeling things picked up, the full cast rendition of Reach for the Stars was excellent. Wendy (Camilla Besley) had a sweet voice and should have been given songs appropriate for her, especially when paired off with strong singers Katie Pie (Gavin Rutherford) and Xena Lily (Bronwyn Turei).

As is tradition, there was a large local flavour though at times it felt laid on a bit thick. There didn't appear to be any original songs, opting instead to repurpose pop songs. They were familiar to the audience but didn't always fit well. It'll be interesting to see if this writing pair will do next years show also.

Aside from all of that, it's a great time. Singing, dancing, bad guys, audience interaction. The kids loved it and there are plenty of jokes for the adults too.


Performances: 18 November - 13 January (times vary)
Tickets: $18/52

November 10, 2017

Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2017

The Show Me Shorts Film Festival opened in Wellington on Thursday night with a screening of the award winning films. It was a sparsely populated theatre that applauded at the end of every piece.

The selection started strong with the multi award winning Do No Harm, then lost speed till the last two; best international film Downside Up and best local film Fire in Cardboard City. The others varied between boring, cringe worthy, and pointless.

However, short films have that same strange essence as short stories; they are difficult to grasp, vague, you're left wondering "what happened? What did I just read or see?" The three listed above are complete in themselves, following more the requirements of a full length film which is why I found them more satisfying.

The festival programme boasts a staggering 55 films so there's sure to be something for everyone.


For programme and ticket details visit the website
Dates: 9-22 November

October 4, 2017

Mousing Around

There were quite a lot of songs. I liked how they used the Winnie-the-Pooh quote. It would be good for younger kids cos there were all the Frozen and Moana stuff and younger kids really like that.

They just do singing and they did dancing. Very lots of dancing. It was a bit cheesy. You couldn't see them too well when the smoke machine was on.

It was kinda strange how they had three Frozen songs in a row and they only had one song from the other movies (Parents correction: there were at least three songs from the Lion King and two from Beauty and the Beast).

This was a great sing along show, though the kids didn't know all the songs - I think they could have got away with just having Frozen and Moana as the kids liked those best. If you're stuck for something to do with the kids over the holidays you might even enjoy this.

Performances: 3-14 October, 11am
Tickets: $10

September 21, 2017

The Wholehearted

Wholehearted will start conversations, honest conversations. Told through what I can only call interpretive dance it's the story of all people, yet there is no storyline.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the cast where doing, what the boxes represented, what they were trying to catch (their heart? love? memories?). It's almost a stream of consciousness across several people.

It is beautifully choreographed, each member participating in another's story so seamlessly. Sheer curtains create windows to interesting tableaux, all perfectly staged.

What is it about? It's about the human experience, how we open ourselves to others and it's lovely to watch.

Tickets: $30
Performances: (Wellington) 20-23 September, 7pm
Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival (27 September)
Christchurch - Papa Hou (3 – 7 October)
Dunedin - Fortune Theatre (10 to 13 October)

https://www.massivecompany.co.nz/thewholehearted

A Doris Day Special

Ali Harper is a delight. Though this show doesn't have the breadth of Legendry Divas there's still plenty to enjoy.

Ali is Doris Day as she tells us about her life in a television special. There's video and audio accompaniment with a gorgeous rack of clothes. Doris had a tragic life but somehow managed to keep a smile on her face. Her positive outlook took her through several husbands and the loss of her best friend, her son. She was an early animal activist, still working in that area into her 90's.

The script is great, integrating costume changes with pre-recorded pieces and, of course, live singing. In case you didn't know, Ali is very talented.

The audience was a little older but the show is enjoyable for all ages.

Tickets: $46
Performances: 16 September - 14 October (times vary)

September 15, 2017

Anahera

Anahera means angel and she looks like one standing in white. Is this what I'm meant to see or am I reading too much into this?

What lies beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect family is appalling. It left me gaping in horror more than once. But somehow you feel for these awful characters, possibly because you feel for them before their awfulness is revealed - to the audience or to themselves.

The programme has only two lines about the show itself; following the annoying trend of having notes from the writer and director instead of pertinent information. The poster doesn't show Anahera but instead the actress who plays Liz - weirdly with ferns behind her which made me think it had something to do with the jungle.

You'll recognise the three main actors from TV and past Circa productions. Neenah Dekkers-Reihana as the title character is so different from what I've seen her portray before; she is innocent and righteous. Her wide eyes at the very opening making you realise how young and nervous the character is.

Anahera was harrowing, so much so that it stuck with me afterwards. I'd remember and almost shudder at the thought. I felt like the story lacked a resolution or maybe it's meant to show that they don't exist in real life. I'm left feeling unsettled.


Performances: 9 September – 7 October (times vary)
Tickets: $52

September 14, 2017

Me and My Sister Tell Each Other Everything

As a sister and a person with a mental illness I can speak to the truth of this production. Or at least my truth. When I saw the trigger warning I wanted to run away, when they mentioned it again at the start of the show I wanted to leave. But I didn't. And I'm glad I didn't.

Freya and Maria were great. They were honest. It felt like they were sisters or they were improvising the script as they went - but in a good way. I thought about my sister, who I hate sometimes and love others...though now I think about it, maybe I've grown out of hating her now.

This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but it deals with important topics and fosters important conversations. It's political too - there's a tea towel that states there's no depression in New Zealand, like so many things it's never mentioned but it's there, and at the end the actors reminded us to vote.

There's singing, not what you'd expect from this sort of thing, it's funny and beautiful.  Overall, I laughed more than I cried. I left uplifted, secure. And I know that no matter what, my sister loves me.

Please note: This work contains extended and detailed discussion and portrayal of suicide including techniques and ideation. It also contains coarse language.

Performances14-23 September, 8pm
Tickets: $22

August 6, 2017

A Doll's House

A Doll's House is an enjoyable, but I wouldn't say pleasant, play. Nora is a relatable character,  I know many versions of her. The acting for her felt forced at the beginning but considering how she developed it fit, though my companion didn't agree that it was necessary. Many women will recognise Nora's struggle to be everything to everyone and losing herself in the process.


The set was interesting but also distracting. Something simpler could have served better.


Because there is no interval I was very aware of every minute of the 1 hour and 40 minutes of this production. I'm not convinced they needed children for anything other than cuteness factor which seemed a stretch to keep them out of bed so late.


Performances: 5 August-2 September (times vary)
Tickets: $52