January 26, 2012


From the rubble of the February Christchurch earthquake rises this documentary style offering from Bare Hunt Collective. Pieced together from interviews with people affected by the quake, this show presents us with a new look on the stories of the survivors.

Admittedly, this is something we’ve seen a lot of from the media in the past year, the supposed “intimate one-on-one.” Munted however really does go a level deeper. From a three lady ensemble we are given a bevy of characters like; four year old Alex, a store owning family, a long distance couple and even the media. The cast do an excellent job of differentiating between characters, giving each of their characters their own voice, posture and distinct personalities.

Simple lighting draws our attention from actor to actor to the character/s currently in focus. The set is a jumble of chairs and tea cups set up to show each separate ‘setting’ for the various characters. They make use of sharing the set with Lonely Heart (on immediately afterward) by disguising the scaffolding with windows.
Munted walks us through the shock, grief and even humour faced in the aftermath of the February quake and I found the emotions very real and accessible. It reminds us all how lucky we are to live in such a small close knit country where “people from Auckland were giving money to people in Christchurch who they’d never even met!”

Funny, entertaining and informative, Munted is an inventive, refreshing view on a sensitive subject which I’d especially recommend to anyone who was not there to experience it first hand.

Munted is on at BATS from January 25-28th at 6:30pm
Price: $18/$13

January 24, 2012

Wholly Bagels Lower Hutt

[Please note: Wholly Bagels Lower Hutt has changed management since the time of this review - Ed]

Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this review after a big long weekend and my first day back at work but I am, so be warned.

I've been to Wholly Bagels before, I'm sure every Wellingtonian has visited one of their stores at some point, usually on a slept in/didn't have time for breakfast morning to grab the breakfast bundle. For those of you not in the know this is a coffee (or hot chocolate) and bagel filled with cream cheese before 11am any weekday. Like your regular bagel order you get your choice of bagel and cream cheese (ranging from low fat to chocolate and strawberry). I used to buy this maybe once a month and I was unreasonably upset when the price was raised by $1, even though it is still a good deal.

So now I launch into the bitchiness of the review. Problems I had with Wholly Bagels that morning:
1. I had to wait to be served (I don't mean wait in a line, I mean wait for a good five minutes before someone came to the counter),
2. there was a mere scraping of cream cheese in my bagel (they are pretty dry and hard to eat without enough cream cheese),
3. I had to ask for water (usually it's sitting up on by the coffee for customers to pour themselves),
4. I like booths with couches and (in my bad mood) I noticed they are looking worse for wear,
5. the girl at the counter needed to be wearing a more supportive bra, I'm sorry, but it's true.

Having said all that, it's still a good deal and they still make good bagels (though I hear the ones in New York are better - someone want to send me there to try them out?). Well, Wholly Bagels, I think that perhaps neither of us was at our best that day.... but it's ok, I forgive you.

Price: $6 (breakfast bundle: coffee and bagel with cream cheese)
Location: 34 Knights Road, Lower Hutt (find them online on Facebook and the web)
Hours: 9-4 Monday-Sunday (different hours for WhollyPizza)

January 19, 2012

Lonely Heart by Michael Nicholas Williams

I will admit I am a sucker for musicals so this review may be slightly biased.

Based on a true story of the notorious Lonely Heart Killers and inspired by the film of the same name, Lonely Heart is a musical full of dark humour one might compare to Sweeney Todd (minus the messy bloodshed).
Martha has lucked out in life, her story so far is one of heart break and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. That is until a friend sends her on a blind date with murderous results.

I did wonder at first whether, with a cast of only five, the actors voices would be drowned out by the music from one man band Michael Nicholas Williams. I needn’t have worried, Bryony Skillington (Martha) and her fellow cast members definitely aren’t ones to be drowned out. The cast flow well from dialogue to the songs, which all have individual feel yet there is repetition which links the story together from start to finish. I should also give praise to all for maintaining the various American accents through the whole show.

This is the first time I’ve seen a multi level set at BATS and the cast make good use of it, whether it be simply to show a second story scene or to separate story elements, creating scenes within scenes.

There are many dark tones and unpleasant topics dealt with in this play but it is done in a way that doesn’t exclude the audience but rather has us empathetically tumbling down the rabbit hole with Martha as she succumbs more and more to the sinful escapes from her former life. Lonely Heart toys with the audience’s perception and really makes us question where we stand as we judge/sympathise with each character.
This show really holds the mirror up to society and asks us to take a good look at ourselves, where we draw the lines on morality, decency, love and why.

Prices: Full $20 / Concession $14
On 8pm at BATS until January 28th (no show Sun/Mon)

January 12, 2012

Soul Beach - Kate Harrison

I was looking forward to reading Kate Harrison's first Young Adult novel as I am a fan of her Secret Shopper series for adults (being somewhat of a secret shopper myself) and Young Adult novels in general (which these lovely ladies have taught me to be not-quite-so ashamed of).

The cover is a silhouette against a turquoise sea somewhere between an actual photograph and a computer generated image, almost a dreamscape. The more I look at it the more fitting it seems for the story it contains.

The book opens the day of small time reality star Meggie's funeral following her murder four months ago. Alice, the younger sister, is distraught over her sisters death and her parents aren't coping much better; her mother is obsessed with sharing huggy therapy groups and her father drinks. Alice receives an email from her dead sister asking her to join her in an online community. Initially Alice thinks this is a hoax but becomes more and more involved to the point where it seems more real than reality. Alice is a little empty since her sisters death, she has distanced herself from her friends and life in general - reacting to what happens rather than participating. Her grief and the confusion this lays over the past is her main motivator.

Soul Beach asks questions about alternate realities/dimensions and life after death - is it/are they real? better? It brought to mind Tad Williams Otherland series, a quartet of heavy tomes based around an online virtual reality which when you login you can't always logout. I devoured the book in two days, despite the many others things I was meant to be doing, finding it difficult "logout."

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy discussions on the afterlife, the internet, and mysteries (there is an element of this too!). I think that this book could easily be an adult novel; age Alice ten years, take her out of high school and give her a job (that she's under threat of losing because she has been so distant since her sisters death), throw in a sex scene, double the length and you've got a full blown adult novel. A reedit of the text wouldn't hurt either as you will notice several incorrectly placed quotation marks. The ending was in some ways satisfactory but it almost seemed like the book finished somewhere in the middle of the story. A lot of loose ends indicate that there is probably a sequel in the making or even a series.

The book has its very own website and can be ordered online from Whitcoulls as a paperback or ebook, or borrowed from the Hutt City Library (hopefully Wellington and Porirua will follow suit and buy a copy too), or if you're very lucky I might lend you my copy.