February 26, 2012

Rock'n'Roll Vs. Burlesque

I haven't been to Bodega since it moved to its new home on Ghuznee Street. It is decorated in the retro look, that is the current rage, and much bigger than its predecessor. The stage is small for shows and it did prove difficult for performers to be seen.

Sadly the time for this event was advertised incorrectly; the Facebook invite said it started at 8pm but that was when the doors opened, the show itself did not start till 9. The lead singer of the band warmed us up by telling us about the pole in his lounge that his and MisRed's child is better on than either of them. Um, ok. As always at burlesque events there were more females in the audience than males and most very well dressed

MisRed opened the evening with a tribute to 80's punk in a red wig and tights under cut off shorts. She appeared to have issues removing her tattoo corset so leaped into the crowd for their help. MisRed later told us she was going to America to perform, I sincerely hope the routine she takes there is more polished than this one.

LadySin performed two belly dancing routines. In her first her coin skirt was strangely paired with shirt cuffs, a little top hat and fishnets. The dance itself was more structured, more calculated than I am used to seeing in belly dancing, the choreography however could have been more dramatic. The later performance was more themed, she showed some emotion by singing along to 'Don't Say a Word' accompanied by a finger placed to her lips (a little too often).

Atomic Ruby who performed a superhero themed routine was a highlight. Her costuming; cape, gloves, boots and eyemask all in sparkly red were perfect. Best of all her set had a storyline; she moved from her superhero self to her street self, from corset and cape to boots and dress.

The band, the Rascal Kings, hit all the right notes, or at least didn't obviously hit any wrong ones. For a cover band they were pretty good. Most of the songs were dance-able but I switched off by the third song. I only stayed because there would be more burlesque. One or two songs interspersed between burlesque would have been better. I had expected 1950's Rock'n'Roll, perhaps modernised, to match the burlesque theme but they played music by the likes of Metallica, Guns N Roses and ACDC, I was one of the few in audience old enough to actually remember these bands. At one point the lead singer said "as I care about your ears, I'll tune up," shame they couldn't shut up - the sets were far too long. There was meant to be back up band but they didn't show up, the audience was informed of this with unnecessary vulgarity which took me back to primary school when swearing was still funny. It would have been interesting to see the burlesque routines performed to the live music, this was a wasted opportunity.

There was a graffiti on the wall in the bathroom saying 'run while you can' advice I took and left during the bands second set. Over all I was very disappointed with weak performances but I guess you get what you pay for.

Venue: Bodega, 101 Ghuznee Street
Price: $10

February 24, 2012

Divas and The Beast

Full of absurd scenarios yet delightful, light hearted enjoyment.

Set in a daytime talk show style, we have our hostess and her three co-hosts who play out improvised scenes based on problems or “beasts” provided by the audience.

We have the local avon lady, the youtube vlogger, the channeler of spirits and the dompost columnist with a talent for bringing sex into any conversation.

The ladies take turns at playing out solutions to the audience problems there by "taming the beast". They deal with anything from the simple; teaching sisters to get along, to the more off the wall, building a deep bond with your cat to discover why it’s spraying everywhere.

Most of the improvs were quirky and humourous if slightly bizarre twists on every day problems, which definitely hit the right note with the audience. Others however were frankly a bit too far-fetched and some badly worded lines had me turning to my companion, both of our faces bearing a “what the?!” expression.
Naturally, being improv, there is very little in the way of set. Anything in the way of furniture is represented by little red boxes carried on and off as needed. The start and finish of each scene is indicated by a slight fade in the stage lights, this also allows set up to be a little less obvious, when the cast manage to complete it in the time it takes for the lights to come up again. Each scene has musical accompaniment by a lone musician who switches instruments depending on the setting.

While I quite enjoyed the show, my companion thought “that was rubbish,” he didn’t like that occasionally the ladies would explain what was happening “my reaction was slow there, but that hurt my hand” so it really depends on your sense of humour.

 It’s easy watching, doesn’t involve deep intellectual thought and gave me a fair few laughs over the hour. When our hosts said “we have time for one more “beast” I was honestly disappointed that it was ending so soon.

On at BATS from 23rd to 26th at 8pm
Full: $16
Concession: $14
You can find out more details here

Transit of Venus VS Nosferatu

An interesting concept which didn't quite hit the mark.

Imagine going to a live rock show seated in a dark room while a silent movie plays on a projector screen. Spoilers, I know, but that is really all there is to this show.

Essentially, a rock band has written its own soundtrack to the 1922 silent film, Nosferatu.

At 85 minutes with no intermission this show did start to drag in the last half hour. I found myself wondering, just how much longer could this film possibly be? It’s not that the elements weren’t there, the band played great music and I love Nosferatu, but two greats put together don’t necessarily make something better. Chocolate is delicious and so is a good smoked ham, but you don’t see anyone walking around eating smoked ham and chocolate sandwiches, do you?

This is the fatal flaw of this show. I would love to have seen a live gig by Transit of Venus in say, Mighty Mighty or a similar venue, I really enjoyed their music. However, in this setting, it just didn’t work.  I did get a good giggle out of them working in the music from Tetris to the scene in which the boxes of dirt are arranged for the boat trip, but this was the only highlight.

I’m sorry to say you wouldn’t be missing anything by not seeing this show. Go home, find their music online, put on a DVD of Nosferatu (is it available on DVD?) and you have the exact same thing in the comfort of your living room.

However, if Transit of Venus put on a live gig purely as a band, they are definitely worth seeing. You’ll find me right up the front dancing like crazy.

Playing at Bats Theatre as part of Fringe Festival. You can find details here

February 22, 2012

Sweet Pea

The ingredients of a good high tea:
·         Lovely surroundings
·         Cute china
·         A variety of teas
·         Tasty food
·         Lots of it

Sweet Pea in Petone mixes all of these ingredients together, with the icing on the top being a cute cupcake to take home!

As soon as you walk in and see the delicate china you know that this is not just another cafe in Petone. The pastel ‘lady like’ colours of the decor and the gorgeous aprons of the staff set the tone for a different experience from your usual latté and brownie with the girls. (Which I do enjoy as well...)

Not only do the staff look the part, they are very welcoming and friendly. We had a gluten intolerant person and a vegetarian with us. Both of them were looked after with discretion. The ladies left us alone to enjoy ourselves, but they did pop by every now and again to check that we were OK.

Now, I have to admit that I am not a high tea virgin, I feel I know what I am talking about when it comes to ladies nibbling delights from tiered plates. Sweet Pea definitely delivers delights; flavoursome food from the savoury sandwiches through to the sumptuous sweets. I would recommend booking for the early afternoon and not eating lunch. I’m glad I did because I had enough room for all of the tiers, including the obligatory scones with jam and cream.

The range of teas on offer means that everyone should find something to their taste. For the non adventurous type there’s the tried but true English Breakfast, but if you want to try something new there are white teas, infusions and the list goes on. I’m not into drinking something that is supposed to taste like flowers so I tried Paris (only two down on the list from English Breakfast). It had a lovely vanilla flavour to it, but is still felt like I was drinking tea. I was a little disappointed that I could only try one, but the apron-ed ladies did come back to refill our hot water. If you are adventurous and you really like your tea, you can purchase a very cute tin of it to relive your experience at home.

In my non virgin status I feel I can safely say that Sweet Pea delivers an amazing high tea experience. I think that it helps that they are set up for ladies enjoying themselves. It is not just the food, it is the staff and the decor that scream ‘high tea anyone?’. Even the toilets look like something you’d expect to find when you go for high tea. Lovely pastels, cute mirrors and not a urinal in sight!

Like this place on Facebook and take your friends to the cutest little cafe Petone has ever seen. They’ll thank you for it, especially when they get to choose their own cupcake to take home! If you are not in the mood for high tea, you can just pop in for a quiet cuppa or a coffee, their cabinet food looks delicious too.

What are you up to next Sunday afternoon?

Venue: Sweet Pea, 259 Jackson Street, Petone
Price: $23 (high tea)
Times: 10-5 Wednesday-Sunday

February 18, 2012

Cricket: South Africa V New Zealand Blackcaps

Last night, a mate and I went to see the first big match in the South African’s tour of New Zealand.  Having passes, we went to the members lounge, had a beer and chatted to some acquaintances until the game started.

New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl, inserting the Proteas and opening with one of a number of spinners in their side from one end and a quick from the other.  This combination worked well with the Blackcaps capturing regular wickets throughout the early part of the 20 over match, forcing the South African batsmen to a lot more careful in their shot collection during the middle overs in their innings.  Towards the end of their allotted 20 overs, the Proteas, with wickets in hand, were able to open up a bit, lifting their scoring rate including four consecutive 6’s off one over finishing their innings at 147 for the loss of 6 wickets.

Then it was New Zealand’s turn to bat.  South Africa opened with pace from both ends but the Blackcaps batsmen took their time and picked the right balls to hit to good effect.  Unlike the Proteas who were at one stage 4 down for only 52 runs, the Blackcaps first wicket fell at 49, the second at 90, so they were never really under pressure to lift the scoring rate at any time during their 20 overs. Eventually winning with 4 balls to spare.  The South Africans were less disciplined than the Blackcaps, conceding a number of wides as well as a couple of No Balls!

The match itself was, as they say in football, a game of two halves.  New Zealand fielded with enthusiasm and purpose with quick changes in bowlers and in the field whenever necessary, whereas the South Africans were much slower in what they did, taking their time, changing their fielding placements regularly to slow the game down and try to fill the gaps where the Blackcaps batsmen were scoring their runs.

There was some lusty hitting by both teams, something that the just under 18,000 crowd had come to see.  One of the highlight’s being when Martin Guptill who carried his bat for an unbeaten 78 not out, nearly cleared the roof of the stadium, this shortly after hitting a ball against the window of one of the lounges square of the wicket!  And to make the match complete from a Wellington point of view, the winning runs for New Zealand was a four scored by the local hero, James Franklin!

Overall, a good night’s cricket in excellent Wellington weather before a vocal but well behaved crowd.

See the Watzon listing for upcoming matches.

February 17, 2012

Dr Sketchy - Revenge of the Redheads

The first Dr Sketchy show for the year started 2012 off in good form with a promising theme.

Mighty Mighty is usually sweltering hot but fortunately the weather gods were smiling on us and the temperature was much more bearable, no sweating over my sketch-pad!

A special sponsor this month was The Vanity Case, the New Zealand stockists of Besamé vintage cosmetics, a range based on vintage recipes and designed especially for red-heads. Claire Gormly herself is present to give the prize to the winner of best dressed.

I will admit that the ladies performing and posing for us slightly disappointed on the ‘redhead’ factor, neither were what I would call real ginger redhead, we are offered sandy-brown and dark brunette. Maybe I’m just picky, imagining something more like Jayma Mays.

They certainly didn’t disappoint on the performance factor, however.

Penny Pins starts us off with her routine “Chains” which those of us frequenting Carousel Cabaret will have seen before. This is followed by poses of varying lengths.

Hester Hawthorn (or was it Hamilton? Sadie von Scrumptious introduces her as both…) does a very clever routine in which she starts out blonde then ducks into a ‘shower’ and comes out in a towel to reveal her red hair. Again this is followed by poses.

As usual we have the off the wall challenges. This month we can compete for prizes by drawing the girls using white chalk on red card and by using the freckles on another person’s arm to ‘connect the dots’. I enjoy these challenges as they give chances to the less talented of us to earn prizes, even if just for ridiculousness.

Keep an eye out Facebook for the next show announcement. You can also join the Dr Sketchy group for up to date info and to keep track of the artists who regularly attend.

February 11th, 4-7pm at Mighty Mighty.
$14/$12 unwaged

Moving Stationary

Moving Stationary is delightfully brilliant and hilarious.

A one man show filled with object manipulation and physical comedy, Moving Stationary is definitely one to add to your to-do list.

As the lights fade for the show to start, a message is played in a Stephen Hawkins-esque voice warning us to turn off our cellphones or “any electronic device which makes a beeping sound” which got a good few laughs.

The man on stage is Sigmund, a stereotypical socially awkward nerd, complete with argyle sweater as shown in the posters. He is great at playing with facial expressions, I especially love his “see what I did there?” smirk.

Sigmund is starting his first day in a new office and throughout the show does battle with various things one would find in a typical office environment. There’s the welcome bag topped by a balloon with serious personal space invasion problems, the spinning office chair which traps legs and the rubbish bin with a hunger for shoes.

Sigmund sets up a little lunch table using some neat tricks with storage boxes and I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve seen someone make tea using a helium balloon! (We are encouraged to head to the Pit Bar after the show for sushi and Helium Tea)

The best thing about this show, I feel, is that it’s accessible to anyone. There was at least one child in the audience who enjoyed it as much as any of us ‘grown ups’ and it’s great to see a show which could easily be watched by the large Deaf community without straining to lip-read in the dark.

There really isn’t much more that needs saying about Moving Stationary. It’s sweet and simple and brilliant.

16th to 19th at BATS starting 6:30pm
Full: $16.00
Concession: $14.00
Info page

February 14, 2012

Dark Stars

The first of the Fringe Festival shows I have seen is a one man “tragicomedy” by Arthur Meek by the name of Dark Stars.

It tells the similar stories of two African-American actors who struggle in their homeland so try their luck by moving to the ‘underside of the world’ aka Australia. These men are Irving Sayles and Jonathan Council

The show is technically very simple, the lighting doesn’t change and there is no music. Some of the more dramatic moments could have done with some simple lighting changes but the dialogue definitely holds its own. The set features cardboard standees of the various people referred to in the story, from Jonathan’s mother to Irving and his manager and even Cher. Jonathan shows the different characters by assuming the pose of their standee. 

The overall story is one of dreams, missed opportunities, friends found in strange places and yellow brick roads that don’t lead where one would expect. In places we are laughing, in others we are very aware of the true cost of ‘fame’. I enjoyed the well phrased analogies to the Universe such as it being a place where “stars just float around in darkness” and the actor does well capturing the different cadences and vocabularies of his characters. 

There is not much else to say about this show except that if you get the chance it is definitely worth a look.

BATS Theatre 13-16th at 8pm
Prices: full- $16, Concession- $14
Run time: 60 mins

February 1, 2012

The Rise of the Phoenix and demise of the Melbourne Heart

Last Sunday I took a couple of friends to watch the football at the Cake Tin – the Phoenix versus Melbourne Heart.

I like to be there early, must be my age, so we got to the ground about 4.00 pm and watched the teams warm up in lovely sunshine – it wasn’t sunny like that when I played golf much earlier in the day!

There was a big crowd of over 13,500 people, a number who arrived looking for their seats when the game was already underway at 4.35 pm.  To make matters worse some of those who had arrived earlier got hot and moved into the shadows to get out of the sun.  Whoever said Wellington doesn’t have lovely summers!

There was real excitement just after the game started with the Phoenix scoring just on three minutes after kick off, a lovely constructed goal, appreciated by those attending.  As the first half went on, Melbourne Heart got a little more possession and created a goal of their own late in the half.

There is a saying that it was a game of two halves which this certainly was with the Phoenix dominating the play in the second half and scoring another three goals, one of which was disallowed for a marginal offside, but then, I’m slightly one eyed in favour of the home team.

Which leads me on to the officiating which in my view, left a lot to be desired.  From memory, there was only one yellow card issued during the whole game and yes you guessed it, it was to a Phoenix player for a clumsy challenge.  Yet the Melbourne Heart players got off scot free for a number of serious offences including a hand ball when the Phoenix players were charging up field on a clear break followed by a sinister tackle in very similar circumstances.   I have to admit that I like the game to flow which the referee did in allowing free kicks to be taken when the ball had not stopped completely and not in the correct spot etc (a number of the referees in this league can be quite pedantic at times) but the ref let himself down by not issuing cards to the Melbourne Heart played for the two offences mentioned above, both at least yellow but the hand ball could have justified a red card!

Overall an enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment, a Phoenix 3 Melbourne Heart 1 result, pity our preferred café was not open for dinner that night which would have capped off a great day.