March 22, 2015

Richter City vs Dunedin Derby

The opening match of the Wellington 2015 roller derby season took place on Saturday night. Our visitors from the far south were the Dunedin Derby A team, the Gallow Lasses. The two leagues are rarely up against each other, and this is the first time Wellington has played host. After several internationally led training sessions and boot camps throughout the country since the end of last season, we were expecting a strong game from both teams. We were not disappointed!

The Richter City All Stars line up was full of familiar names though a notable player missing on skates was Jem Molition (one of Richter’s representatives on Team NZ 2014), who put in an appearance as bench manager while appearing to nurse an injury. Several names on the Gallow Lasses list were recognisable from tournaments in previous years, but there were also some names we expected to appear that didn’t - whether due to being unable to commit to the travel or otherwise, we remain unsure. Gladly missed from the atmosphere at Kilbirnie Rec Centre was the regular MCs and overloud music, instead replaced by Lolo Morales and Danger Spouse exchanging at times witty banter and actually turning down the music when they had important things to say.

After a Top Gun themed skate out from Dunedin complete with aviators and pornstaches, and a lackluster one from Richter (thanks to a brief sound system malfunction), we were straight into the first jam with the latest ruleset nixing the public gear check. For the first nearly dozen jams, Dunedin rotated between two jammers, Diva DemolisHER (team captain and non-travelling alternate for Team NZ 2014) and VenoMISS Vixen, while Richter pulled from a jammer team of five. Diva showed us why she was very nearly chosen to go to Texas last year, that woman can sure skate, and fast! The winning of lead jammer was nearly even in the early throes of the first half, but soon the home team showed their strength in that aspect, while the Gallow Lasses fought back by increasing their jammer rotation to include another three skaters. It appeared very much to be a jammer’s half - all about who got off the line and through the small holes between blockers quicker, which of course Richter’s Invisigirl excelled at! Half time ended with Richter City 166 to Dunedin’s 60, just after a rather nasty looking limb to face injury incurred by Skandal Lass rendering her out for the rest of the bout.

Impromptu half time entertainment was provided by crowd favourite referee (though not on the crew this bout) Danger Danger dancing the hokey pokey on skates and generally teasing the young fans in the suicide seats.

The second half brought out a reinvigorated Dunedin team. While Richter maintained their dominance in gaining lead jammer, the Dunedin blockers didn’t let them through quite so easily. It appeared to be a clean game compared to some seen last year, with only one foul out, J’Knee Dodgem. However, another two occured including one in the final jam. It was good to hear the crowd around us cheering for Dunedin in the final moments - urging the tartaned jammer to “break a hundred” while Richter jammer Princess Slayer was in the penalty box. The game ended with Dunedin breaking that hundred, scoring 101 to Richter’s 335.

Following from the greatly fought bout, Sunday afternoon brought the announcement of the home season teams, Brutal Pageant, Smash Malice and Comic Slams. A brief look at the lists shows a healthy influx of Fresh Meat (recently graduated skaters), spread evenly throughout a bevy of seasoned regulars. Here’s hoping some of those freshies make appearances in our future reviews! First home season matchup will be Comic Slams against Smash Malice on 18th April.

Pride and Prejudice

Hutt Repertory theatre's latest offering is a version of Pride and Prejudice. It was adapted for the stage by Jon Jory, an American. He has adapted other Austen novels as well as creating a one act play entitled Darcy and Elizabeth and a musical version of Pride and Prejudice. The script is awkward; characters address the audience as narrator at different times, once quite unnecessarily as they explained what was then acted. Elizabeth's sparring match with Wickham after she's discovered his true character was pointless as the real meat was left out, it was not helped by the conversation being portrayed as a flirtation.

Elizabeth herself was surprisingly exotic. She appeared to be more appropriate to play Miss Bingley and Charlotte Lucas (far too pretty) would have suited Elizabeth much better. Miss Bingley in turn came off as mentally deficient and the actress would have suited the sedate Charlotte much better. Jane was appropriately pretty but then so was Mary who is meant to be plain. A limited pool of actors can result in actors playing roles in the wrong age range, something Hutt Reptrory has suffered from in the past. The two youngest Bennet sisters were aged appropriately unfortunately the army men Wickham and Fitzwilliam were too young.

Ten percent of the cast didn't muddle their lines; Elizabeth went so far as referring to Colonel Fiztwilliam as Mr and mispronouncing Lady Catherine's name. Darcy was wooden and didn't unbend at any point. The dancing was distracting and the use of the waltz terribly historically inaccurate.

Despite the entertainment value of picking apart the production it was quite boring. It lacked energy or any sort of unique properties. By trying to be true to the novel it lost the "light, bright and sparkling" nature all together. It brings to mind Stagecraft's production of Pride and Prejudice which should be held up as an example of how good amateur theatre can be.

Performances: 18-20 March, 8pm; 21st-22 March, 4pm; 24-28 March, 8pm
Tickets: $20
Venue: Theatre 108

March 10, 2015

The Little Teapot

The Little Teapot in Kilbirnie provides high teas in simple, unpretentious surroundings. It's a little out of the way but good to see more high tea offerings outside of the central city.

The tea menu comes with a tray of tea leaf samples so you can make your choice based not only on name and description but smell too. They follow the current trend of giving each person a pair of small tongs for food selection. Tea is served on patterned vintage china, like most places, you'll find that yours won't match your neighbours. The chairs appear to be vintage, some nicer than others.

It may not be as fancy as some places but the food is good and plentiful, there is an extensive range of teas and even an area for children.

There is capacity for small groups or couples but make sure you book.

High tea: $25
You can find out more on their Facebook page

March 4, 2015

Don Quixote - Royal New Zealand Ballet

Last night’s dress rehearsal of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Don Quixote was a show stopper, literally. In my twenty years of being involved with dress rehearsals, either watching or on stage, I have have never witnessed a director actually stop the performance. Most directors treat it as a dry run for opening night; taking notes and, if necessary, restaging scenes after the final act. I like to think this is an indication of director Francesco Ventriglia’s wish for perfection for his first New Zealand production rather than a sign of unpreparedness.

A lot of the elements of the production were reused from the 2008 show including; set, costumes, dancers and, although I can’t be certain, choreography. The real scene stealer (as she was in the original production) was a little mechanical dog. I have it on good authority that at each performance last season an audience member enquired where they could get one.

The dancing, which after all is what you go to see, was beautiful, although there were often too many dancers hanging around the edges, that it was difficult to know where to focus. Twitter was brimming with appreciation for men who can dance attempting to show their ability to not dance.

Strange pauses between passages in the third act may have been due to earlier restaging of dances. The orchestra was excellent but subject to the exactness of the choreographer, and at times I felt they could’ve used a bit more volume. 

Don Quixote is director Francesco Ventriglia’s first show for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. It opens tonight at St James Theatre. After a short season in Wellington the show will visit other cities (listed below).

Performances: 7:30pm 4-7 March, 1:30pm 7 March
Tickets: $35-145
Venue: St James Theatre
Other centres: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Palmerston North

March 1, 2015

Yep, Still Got It

Jane Keller brings you a one woman show with pizazz but lacking in storyline. Supposed to be about aging gracefully, or not so gracefully, instead it's a collection of songs with brief interludes to link them together. Deciding to be a life coach in her "second age" means the character has access to many people's stories, it's a shame that the audience is more interested in hers.

The singing and acting are good and the songs amusing. Jane stumbled over one song which had very similar verses but corrected herself and even apologised to the audience. It is definitely an entertaining show but not one you dwell on after you leave the theatre. Like candy floss it is sweet, melt in your mouth, but of little substance and quickly forgotten.

Performances: 28 February-21 March, Tues - Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4.30pm
Tickets: $43
Venue: Circa Two