December 1, 2016

Scarlet & Gold

Scarlet and Gold is New Zealand's own Les Miserables. A smaller revolution, one for better working conditions that is met with equal violence and injustice. Mobs storm across the stage as often as families and friends, comrades, dance around it.

This is a piece of New Zealand history we would rather forget. A time when money was put ahead of principles, of safety. Women are particularly strong in this revolution and the men fall back on threats of rape and calling them "sluts" for speaking their minds. These women thought they were changing the world, making it a better place for future generations. I am so glad they cannot witness what is going on in America today, where a person who treats women as objects has been promoted to a position of power. Where violent acts of homophobia and xenophobia are rising.

There was a well deserved standing ovation for the actors that threw themselves into the play so much that you could see they were emotionally moved. This is a hugely upsetting play because it so clearly depicts the horrific events in Waihi in the early 1900's and highlights how little progress we've really made.

Performances: 25 November 22 December Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4.30pm
Tickets: $46

November 30, 2016

Making Friends Collective: Stand Up Love and Wine Lips

Two plays based around relationships, about breakups.

The first, Stand Up Love, made me cry several times but perhaps I was over identifying with the characters as my companion thought the acting was wooden and that the actors hadn't really committed themselves to their roles. Despite it referencing stand up routines this isn't a funny play; I found it gut wrenching and honest.

The line that most stood out to me was "Why couldn’t it have worked? I loved you so much."

This sentiment was echoed throughout the second play, Wine Lips, which depicts two exes catching up backstage. Having had experience in theatre we got all the jokes (though perhaps we didn't enjoy them as much as one gentleman in the audience). There was local flavour with references to Circa and Robyn Malcolm. The acting was so on-key that it genuinely felt like we were watching two people hanging out, so much so that it was a little voyeuristic. I cannot express how good this was; as well as being emotional it was very, very funny.

Both plays bought up memories of old love, real love, the love of my life. "Why couldn’t it have worked? I loved you so much." On the walk to my car I heard Katy Perry's The One That Got Away. It seemed fitting. I cried the whole way home.

Performances: 30 November – 10 December (no show Sun / Mon), 7pm/8:45pm
Tickets: $20 or $30 for both

November 21, 2016

Jack and the Beanstalk

For over a decade, Roger Hall pantomimes (along with his other works) have been a part of the Wellington theatre scene. This year we revisit an updated Jack and the Beanstalk which is to be the final run of Roger Hall pantos at Circa.

A practically perfect cast is lead by Dame Gavin Rutherford (Hilda Hardup/Aunty Pam) with standout performances from Jonathan Morgan as dastardly darling repo-man Claude Back, and Bronwyn Turei (or can I say Bronwyn Moo-rei?) as a delicious Betsy and fabulous Goosey. Together with the rest of the cast of Barnaby Olson (Jack), Andrew Laing (Butcher Bob/Postman), Emma Kinane (Mrs Virus/Gertie Grabber) and Jessica Old (Smiley Virus), they bring us the familiar fairy tale, with a local and current twist, such as their residing in "Lesterville", and wondering if the thud-thuds heard was Gerry Brownlee with a bad case of liquefaction.

Plenty of traditional panto moments for the young and young-at-heart to get involved with, though we noticed the jokes this year felt a little more family oriented than usual, but that may have been tailored to the child-heavy audience. We also hoped for a little more relevant current humour - but considering all that's been current lately could still be a little raw for some, it was probably wise that more earthquake cracks weren't made.

19 November - 20 December 2016 and 4 - 14 January 2017
Times: Tues - Sat 6.30pm, Sunday 4pm
Tickets: $25 - $46 School Kids $15
For more information and to book tickets go here

November 12, 2016

The Rime of the Modern Mariner

No, you read that right. The Rime of the Modern Mariner. What you're thinking of (because it sounds kinda wrong doesn't it?) is Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Coleridge.* If you haven't read it, that's cool I haven't either, it's not a prerequisite to enjoying this play. Though when the albatross died it reminded me of a scene in Serenity and I clicked.

In the modern version he isn't a mariner, he's a plastics engineer. How appropriate that he ends up floating in a sea polluted with the plastics he creates. You might have guessed that conservation plays a big part and you'd be right. But it's never actually mentioned, it's quite subtle. Well, as subtle as all the scenery and props being made from plastic can make it.

There are only five cast members, the "mariner" and four others who act as chorus, sometimes his friends, sometimes women he is trying to pick up, some times props. Their communication is excellent; managing to create a moving mass of bodies without any eye contact. Although it starts slow the centre is supremely powerful melding song and fog and people and yes, plastic into something that leaves you breathless. I would see the show for the central piece alone, it's a beautiful performance.

Please note that this show is longer than most Bats performances, coming in at 90 minutes instead of the usual 60. The price reflects this but I think it's well worth it.

Performances: 10 - 26 November, 8pm
Tickets: $25

* Have you ever heard the line: "Water, water, every where but not a drop to drink"? It's a misquote from the poem.

November 3, 2016

Roller Derby: New Zealand Top 10 Champs Finals

Throughout the year, 9 teams have been skating it out in a battle to be named New Zealand's champion Roller Derby team. Late last year, the top 10 teams (based on the official unofficial rankings kept by a number crunching fellow who goes by Geex Quad) were invited to participate in seeded pool play during 2016. Unfortunately one of the teams, Sirens of Smash from Nelson had to pull out early in the year.  Pool play ended in September, with the top two from each pool progressing to the cup semi-finals, and the third and fourth qualifiers from both pools progressing to a consolation semi to determine who would be awarded the shield trophy for "b" teams.  Shield playoffs were carried out early October in Napier, with Auckland Roller Derby League taking the win. The weekend just been saw Wellington hosting the cup playoffs for the top 4.

The schedule for the day had the semi finals as North vs North followed by South vs South, home team Richter City (RCRD) against Auckland's Pirate City Rollers (PCR) then Christchurch's Dead End Derby (DED) battling Dunedin Derby's Gallow Lasses (DD), then the losing teams played each other followed by the capping off the day with the final between the best of the South and the best of the North.

RCRD vs PCR was an thrilling and close game I'd not seen at league level for a while. It was clear in the first half-dozen jams both teams were playing the hit it and quit it strategy, but once Richter started racking up those jammer penalties, Pirates took the invitation and ran, taking Richter's initial lead and making it their own, using the momentum to win lead jammer just those couple of times more than the home team. They went into half time 83 over 51 for RCRD.  The third quarter of the game was much the same as the previous half, but things really started to heat up in the last quarter. Four lead changes (five if you count the equalizer jam) in six jams, had plenty of fans of both teams throughout the venue nursing palpitations and chewing fingernails while sitting on the edge of their seats - if they weren't jumping up and down that is! Richter managed to pull ahead and take the win with 130 points scored to Pirates hard-fought 119. Plenty of beautiful blocking from all the Pirates not wearing stars, but I think seasoned skaters Hui and Sugar Hit were my favourite of this bout.

DD vs DED was a closer game than I was expecting to be honest, with a long track record of wins in DED's favour. Half time score went the way of Dunedin, at 67-50, but it seemed they came out too strong in the first half and just couldn't keep it up in the second. A few obligatory apex jumps from Evil K Neevil (including one almost on demand of the MCs), and several lead changes in the second half, we came to a full-time score to see Christchurch win with 150 points to Dunedin's 133. Notable standouts for me this bout were Iona Shotgun, jammer for Dead End, and Little Yellow Jacket, blocker for Dunedin's Gallow Lasses.

Pirates and DD went pretty much as expected considering Pirates could easily have been playing for first rather than third, and with Dunedin coming straight off the back of their previous game. This doesn't mean the Gallow Lasses didn't put up a fight!  Some of their offensive walls against the agile Pirate jammers were very effective. Very much enjoyed Saradactyl's work this time around for DD as jammer , and PCR's blocker Schrodinger.  Half time score was 154 to 38, and full time 247 to 71, and Pirates take third place.

The crowds grew for the final bout upon arrival of a contingent of skaters from Tauranga's Mount Militia who raced down after finishing a double-header at Levin, bringing with them former Richter skaters, Ma Whero Mischief and Sweaty Pig. This reinvigorated the crowd somewhat and it certainly seemed there was more cheering for that final bout than the others throughout the day. The first jam certainly showed that RCRD meant business, opening with Skanda Lass against one of DED's most experienced skaters Evil K Neevil, scoring 10 points to Evil's nil, thanks to the latter taking a trip to the bin. Richter maintained that lead, with Dead End clawing a handful when they could, Razzmatazz made a dent in the points differential a few times throughout the game, her brilliant performance throughout this bout won her plenty of praise from the crowd around me. Half time saw a difference of 29 points, 102 to 73, and one could argue it was still anyone's game, especially when soon into the second half Skandal's skate broke ruling her out of the game till nearly the end once she procured some borrowed skates. The final jam saw a penalty assessed on Tu High (her as second bout as jammer for the All Stars, the first earlier in the day) leaving Razzmatazz racking up some points in a power jam situation, but not quite enough to take the win, but surely close enough to be satisfying. Richter won the Top 10 champs trophy final with a score of 193 to 155.

The next Wellington Roller Derby, and probably last public bout for the year, is yet another double-header. A fresh meat graduation bout for new and "tender" skaters from Wellington and abroad will be a curtain raiser for the Richter City All Stars taking on the NZ Men's Roller Derby team. The representative men's team are hoping to get to the Men's Roller Derby World Cup in Barcelona in 2018, and what better training to go against the recently crowned NZ women's champions. This double-header is slated for the 26th of November, further details at the Facebook event page.

November 2, 2016

The President

In this perfectly timed show Alexander Sparrow investigates what would happen if Trump became the American President. The media is rich with fodder and Trump makes a great character study.  I didn't realise he sounded so much like a vapid rich girl (including the hand gestures) until I saw Alexander's accurate portrayal.

The set is minimal, there were clothes laid out and it being an Alexander Sparrow production I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd wandered out naked. (Feel free to shudder at the thought of a naked Trump.) Alexander has again sacrificed his body for his art by growing and bleaching his hair to match the wig-like monstrosity which perches on Trump's head. He's also managed to give himself a paunch and if it'd been possible I'm sure he'd have grown jowls.

The show would've been funnier if the real Trump weren't such a caricature already and the ridiculous scenarios weren't actually things Trump had already said or indicated. What's most interesting is that this could viewed as a horror. Here's how bad it could actually get world, you've been warned!

Performances: 1-5 November, 8:30
Tickets: $20

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

June 15, 2016

de Sade

3rd June 2016, Cavern Club, Wellington 

Alexander Sparrow dresses up as the Marquis de Sade and sits in his dungeon of whips and graffiti, addressing the audience, who are a touring party in the insane asylum that confines him. Last time I was here in the Cavern Club I was at a Shepherds of Cassini post-prog rock gig; this time I’m in Charenton. Last time I was in Charenton I was watching Geoffrey Rush try to corrupt the good Kate Winslet in Quills, which was more about the consequences of censorship than sadism itself.

‘Dresses up’ is a misnomer here, as the Marquis begins the show en déshabillé, but he does don his roguish costume shortly after, as if we have woken him from a fitful night’s prison slumber. He swigs from a bottle of wine, tells his story, rips off a hunk of bread, chokes on it, and educates us in sexual freedom. By the end of the show, members of the audience will have been asked to pose or imagine posing in a variety of expected and unexpected BDSM set-ups with one another. This is audience participation heaven (or hell), and the randy transgender perched on a bar stool makes the very most of it. Other members seem to play out their own bits of behavioural gender stereotype (at least until encouraged to branch out) too. One girl strikes cautiously; a conventional-looking dude whacks the Marquis extra hard – acting out the identity-preserving I’m a man, hur hur thing. But the Marquis can deliver as hard as he gets – well, Monsieur, that wasn’t what you were expecting tonight was it?

Sadism is using someone else’s pain to bring about your own satisfaction. Somehow – despite the hilariousness bubbling up from his show as air slowly turned up through an aquarium – Alexander manages to seriously convince you of the obvious merits of sadism in the same was as, say, after a particularly fascinating appointment you wonder at how you missed your calling as a dentist, or you regret not becoming an engineer after talking to a driver on a train journey. A true professional is always able to make it seem as if their discipline is the zenith of exciting and reasonable things to do in the world. Then you make your way back to your own real life, bruised and bemused.

Limited though it may seem, the Marquis opens his world up, the injustices that befell him chapter by chapter, to such an extent that it eventually seems we have barely examined something we thought could be thoroughly covered in the session. Hints at further stories are left hanging (for the sequel?) as Alexander’s ever-so-slightly too hushed voice trails off into further fantasy. But the only thing that really grates in the both joyful and depressed outpourings of the Marquis is when his lists of accomplishments include the non-consensual, which, while being realistic for the character, didn’t fit with the application of these lessons in liberation on our modern lives. Otherwise, sadism begins to seem like a cult you could join to increase personal fulfilment, like yoga or going Paleo, but less pseudo-primal and culturally appropriative, and maybe less publically appropriate.

He shows us ourselves convincingly (so brilliant), and lets us be them, and says we should do so without shame. Some people – most people! – need to hear this from time to time. I just want people to be honest with one another (this is correct English because ‘each other’ is used in situations where there are only two!). Aside from the shock-value, the Marquis does make a very good point, particularly for the shy people and the teenagers who were probably not in attendance at the R18 show: if you fancy someone, you should step up and talk to them – the worst that happens is they walk away flattered (hopefully). Another emphasised point is that masturbation is a game of diminishing returns and you end up doing a lot of it in jail, as evidenced by the tally marks covering his pale skin.

This isn’t just entertainment, it was Interesting historical details, such as the fact the guillotine of the French Revolution was known as Le Rasoir National. Then we feel all knowledgeable, but find ourselves falling off our seats with laughter to hear fashionable multilinguality poked fun at with he said ‘oui’, which means yes, or slipping in a Simpson’s style meta-reference to this room full of people in his cell, and, inexplicably, seventy chairs. I get the feeling the jokes would vary every night if he would only bring us a season of this show. Also, I am 80% sure this strange woman also known as my mother really was her in the audience. This is bravery. This guy could have simply been an ordinary successful comedian, but what we are receiving is bespoke, artisan comedy.

After this most edifying one-off show, we approached the young actor and told him we were having a party, would he like to come? But the Marquis was expecting a guest.

Do let this libertine detain you next time he’s in town.

We did a previous review of this show in 2014

May 29, 2016

Richter City Home season 2016: #1 Smash Malice vs Brutal Pageant

The first bout of the intraleague season for Richter City saw the two original home teams, Smash Malice and Brutal Pageant (Last year's winning team) face up against each other. A handful of new look uniforms, a bunch of new skaters, and an overhaul of the programme coupled with a short video clip as a basic introduction to Roller Derby among the changes since last year's home team season, along with the recent return of Ghetto Anger as MC. Whilst I wasn't a huge fan of the Ghetto Anger/Bullet Surprise MC combo of years past, having Ghetto Anger tag teaming with an experienced skater (Tuff Bikkies) hit the spot. Ghetto Anger's return wasn't the only throwback to the past experienced by long time fans of Richter City. 

Saturday's crowd felt the largest experienced in a long time at Kilbirnie Rec Centre, it never ceases to intrigue me that the home team season draws larger crowds than when we have visitors! The larger crowd meant the video clip was almost drowned in the hubbub, especially with no warning from the MCs that it was about to play and that if you were a new to derby to pay attention, and not helped by the lighting near the screen still being on at that point.  With the possible alternate location for the screen next time, and knowledge to turn the nearby lights out hopefully will make the video much clearer to watch next time.  Injuries saw Skanda Lass and Invader Sin on the Malice bench with Frodo, but Ella Kazam’s thumb dislocation at practise this week couldn’t keep her away, though I did spot a brace on underneath the wrist guard.  

The bout started with a good looking rainbow formation from Brutal Pageant that kept back Tu High long enough for Vicious Vegie to make lead, which was helped along by Tu High getting the first penalty of the game for a back block. Pageant made a quick start on the points with scoring each of the first four jams leaving Malice trailing behind on zero, until Tu High won the first Smash Malice lead of the bout in the fifth jam and putting a few points on the board, soon helped by a power jam by Volcanic Ash.  Very strong walls from both teams lead to more than a few jams resulting in it taking over a minute for a lead jammer to be declared, and a relatively neck and neck first quarter. The few nods to times past in the first half had not just Pageant's captain Ella Kazam jamming a couple of times, but saw a jam from fellow beauty queen Suffer Jet to end the half, it was good to see her with the star again, and with the pink jam ref pointing her as lead jammer, helping take the half time scores to 90 to 69, Pageant lead. Interestingly, it was a relatively clean half penalty wise, but it seems the majority of the penalties awarded were to jammers.

Ash was very much on fire with her jamming this bout, despite being caught in the box a few times, together with Tu High (though much steadier on her feet this year, managed to fit in 3 trips to the box in one jam) I wager they racked up most of the Malice points, with occasional help from Berocca Bomba, May Maim and captain Tino Turnher. A very fast jam partway through the second half had me impressed by and commiserating with Bailey's Comet as she boosted her already fast speed just on coming to pack with the Brutal Pageant jammer relatively close on her heels, but it took the refs nearly quarter of a lap to notice her calling the jam, likely enabling Pageant to earn some points that otherwise wouldn't have been awarded. Ash frequently stashed the jammer panty through the night, seemingly a strategy to get through the initial pass with as little interference from opposing blockers, in order to get scoring quicker, a move also adopted by Brutal Pageant a few times. The frequent panty stashes were coupled with strategically timed panty passes, and great adaptation to opposing team's strategies, showing a lot of cohesion within both teams so early in the season, even with some of the freshies a mere month or two post graduation. Melpractice and Helen of Destroy appear to have melded into the Malice blockers with such ease, with Deb Auchery occasionally filling in Pageant's jammer rotation of Tarenosaurus Wrex, Vicious Vegie, and Gael Force and previously mentioned Zam and Jet.

Through no lack of trying from Smash Malice, the bout ended with Brutal Pageant taking the win with a score of 168 to 130.

A sad announcement was made during the bout, former Richter skater Lethally Blonde is very ill at the moment, and throughout the venue were collection boxes for get well wishes and spare change to help assist Blondie's family with costs related to her hospitalisation. If you know Blondie or just wish to contribute, I'm sure the league would be happy to receive more messages and donations to forward to her family. Contact them direct through Facebook or Twitter to arrange.

Next bout is Brutal Pageant against Comic Slams on 2nd July. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more information and tickets. In the meantime, Richter City are gearing up for another Freshmeat intake, and are hosting a Freshmeat and Greet this Wednesday 1st June at Hashigo Zake. Further details are here.  The Convicts are soon off to Adelaide, and I believe the tournament organisers are planning to streaming some of the tournament on YouTube, hopefully we can see some Convicts (or Whakatane!) bouts on there, see the TGSS website for the tournament schedule and don't forget to convert from Adelaide time!

May 19, 2016

Pedal and Castles

Castles is an award winning show and Pedal is it's prequel. Like with most things, the original is better.

It's not what I expect from a dance performance. You can see why this new genre is award worthy. This one woman show exhibits a triple threat - she can sing, dance and act. Perhaps that should be upgraded to quadruple as she's written, arranged and choreographed each show herself (or am I up to six levels of skill?).

The little music there is mostly comes from the performers mouth, there is an unexpected talent, and even more impressive that she continues while dancing or contorted in strange shapes. I don't recognise the lyrics, has she written them herself? The other text is like spoken word poetry. The dancing, less than I would have expected, is melded with the words.

My companion described Castles as 'an exorcism of popular culture.' Compared to Pedal it's comic, energetic and more accessible. There is less blank space. In a cold theatre, with a production that was difficult to follow, I found my mind wandering from Pedal.

Props to the costume-prop designer. Those creations were ever surprising.

Performances: 17 - 21 May 7pm*
Tickets: $20**

Performances: 18 - 21 May 7pm & 8pm*
Tickets: $20**

*I admit these seem confusing, check the Bats site for specific performance times and dates
**Special pricing for attending both shows

May 15, 2016

King Lear

Ah Shakespeare, how you have been wronged. We have such a sanitised view of your works. Thankfully Victorian sensibilities no longer reign, allowing Circa to include fist fights, guns and sex scenes in their production of King Lear. I'm glad I hadn't seen or read this play before so I could be surprised as things unfolded, though I admit to reading the programme which had a full outline. The storyline (sorry Shakespeare) was frankly ridiculous and I may have been lost without prior knowledge. You'd think the playwright felt some sort of joy in destroying his characters before sending them off the way he goes on.

Of course the average theatre goer has heard of Ray Henwood (if nothing else as the father of comedian Dai) and Circa audiences should know him very well from his one-man-show repeat season of A Christmas Carol. He takes the title role of the King, ranging from dignified gentleman, to mad man, to stricken father. The old man was showing his age but held nothing back. There were several other familiar faces but I didn't recognise the names,  a fact I feel a little guilty about.

The simple, adaptable set portrayed several houses as well as the barren outside. Sound effects of rain almost made it cold inside. The dry ice was always vaguely present but never enough to be noticeable about from the coughs it elicited.

As all Shakespeare is the play is very long, close to three hours. You'd be better to see it on a Tuesday or Wednesday when it starts earlier or even a matinee performance.

Performances: 14 May- 18 June (Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 6.30pm;Thursday – Saturday, 8pm
Sunday Matinees 4pm)
Tickets: $46

May 9, 2016

Green Team NZ Home Cleaning

He was very proud of his performance but I've had better. I gave him another go but I was equally disappointed. He took longer than others have and still didn't get the job done. He should have brought all his own props. Till I find someone better I'll either do without or manage it myself.

It's a bit like sex really.

March 28, 2016

Richter City Season Opener Double Header: Primal Cuts vs Mixed Mayhem, Convicts vs Vagine Regime Aotearoa

Easter Saturday saw Wellington's Richter City Roller Derby host a double header, showcasing their recent Fresh Meat grads and a better known Convicts team against Mixed Mayhem and Vagine Regime Aotearoa respectively, two teams made up of representatives from around the country.

First up were the recent RCRD graduates, skating under the name of "Primal Cuts", against a team of 'tender' meat from the lower North Island calling themsevles Mixed Mayhem. With skaters from Bay City Rollers (Hawke's Bay), Whenua Fatales Roller Derby (Levin), River City Rollers (Wanganui), Rimutaka Roller Derby (Upper Hutt), and Kapiti Coast Derby Collective (er, Kapiti Coast). While some of those on the Mixed team were popping their bouting cherries, some  had a little more bouting under their bout, and some even more.  Even though it was a mixed team with little to no experience playing together, this varying experience up against the very tender Primal Cuts was soon apparent. A very natural looking jammer in Indy Way (River City) with help from Scrappy (Kapiti), Diabolical(Fatales) and Sweet-ish Chef (Bay city) helped Mixed Mayhem rack up the points, despite some good displays of blocking from Ninety Nine and MelPractice and the rest of the Primal Cuts. Going into half time the scores were 184 to 46.
Half time dressing room pep talks worked for the Cuts, they came out firing and winning more lead jammer status than in the first half, but were unable to get points whilst preventing Mayhem from picking up some themselves, so the gap in points was never really closed. An expulsion, an successful panty stash, and a strange attempt at a panty pass made the second half a bit more eventful than the first.  There is definitely some promise in the newest skaters to join Richter City, I'm looking forward to watching them grow, especially Adrienne's Wall, Frankenslide and Deb Auchery.  Final scores 114 to 292, Mixed Mayhem taking the win.

Second bout of the evening saw RCRD's B team Convicts against Vagine Regime Aotearoa, a team made up of queer and supportive skaters from throughout New Zealand, in which  I spotted at least one skater from Auckland Roller Derby League, another from Christchurch's Dead End Derby, a handful from Bay City, a couple from Nelson's Sirens of Smash (a team who sadly had to pull out of the top 10 tournament), and a few ex RCRD skaters in Venom de Plume, Meat Train and InvisiGirl.  The derby virgins next to me rightly noted as they observed warm up that these skaters were much more confident on their feet compared to those in the first game, but that's to be expected when most of them have several years experience under their belt.  Commentary from Ella Kazam and Tuff Bikkies throughout this game made me positively squee from excitement of what's to come this season for Richter City and the skaters in question.  VRA teammates Moose Hoof and Killer Mayhem, both more than holding their own against some more established Convicts, have recently transferred from Fatales to the big time of Richter City, unfortunately missing cut off for making the travel teams, but give them time!
Another recent transfer from Fatales was Berocca Bomba, who featured heavily in the Convicts' jammer rotation, showing that Levin has been a training ground punching well above it's small town weight for upcoming skaters.  Another Levin skater in the match, Crazy Crab, made an impression for managing to score heavily as jammer despite being up against the solid formidable walls and tag team work of Gael Force and Poise n Dart (Force n Dart?); it was unfortunate Crabs was later expelled for dangerous penalty box entry.  VRA had the advantage of some good strong and fast jammers in Bay ladies Dee Capitator and Kill Billy, and despite the help from MacKenzie (previously known as Beatrix Skiddo, Team NZ 2014), Convicts jammers Margaret Snatcher, Berocca Bomba, Tu High and May Maim couldn't keep the score gap from widening, thanks to solid blocking from Arse'n'All and Evenger.  The half time score of 94-65 in favour of VRA ended up growing to 235-133.

With these newly graduated skaters, transfers and returnees, the new home teams have now been announced. First look shows it's going to be an interesting year and hopefully closely contested. Some previously noted talent have stepped aside for various reasons this year, so we should get to see some good growth from those new and sticking around.

2016 is going to be a busy year for the travel teams also, with both All Stars and Convicts involved in the NZ Top 10 Champs tournament , the All Stars travelling to the Gold Coast for Royal Rumble on ANZAC weekend and the Convicts heading to Adelaide for The Great Southern Slam (TGSS) in early June, it is not a surprise they're pushing their GiveALittle page to help offset some of their costs.

Next Wellington game is April 30th, a pool play bout for the Champs tournament against WRDL from Whakatane, who recently became WFTDA apprentices and are also heading to TGSS. It will be good to see how far this team has come since we last saw them on Wellington soil in April 2014. Details for this bout are available on Facebook.

March 15, 2016


Set amid the Christchurch earthquakes I found myself wishing there was a real earthquake during Wolf so that it would end. The hour show seemed longer. The stage earthquakes were handled effectively and did manage to unsettle the audience with glaring lights and rumble sound effects.

One actress dressed in steampunk but it didn't add to their character at all, I was waiting for it to be referenced especially as everything else was in as obvious a way as possible. There was no consistency in the way stage exits were used.

Written and performed by people from Christchurch the play makes as many digs as it can at EQC and insurance in general. More genuine experiences could have given the play a good grounding.

There were warnings that the show included earthquakes and references to domestic violence but it could have also benefited from a warning regarding causal drug use. As soon as the full cast of characters were introduced you knew where the domestic violence would come in. It was also obvious which ones would end up together. Once one secret was revealed it was obvious what the next one would be. Some subtlety would have been nice. But then there were sadly few references to the "wolf."

What turned out to be an interesting storyline was hidden beneath a bad script, overacting and, underacting. Dramatic scenes ended up unintentionally amusing. The storyline became so powerful that for five minutes or so towards the end it overcame the shows limitations. A good edit to avoid repetition (each topic seemed to appear twice in a conversation - in one case almost word-for-word), and heavy handed exposition could have helped. The first part was unpolished and dragged. It's such a shame that there wasn't more development before this was staged.

Performances: 15-24 March (no Monday or Sunday show), 7pm
Tickets: $18

March 10, 2016

An (Alternate title: Sweet Red Bean Paste)

Cherry blossoms are one of the most identifiable Japanese images.  They appear in An lining the streets to a small dorayaki (pancake) stall, leading a determined elderly woman to its door.

We know little about the old woman, Tokue, until the other characters learn about her. We see more of Wakana, a school girl, and Sentaro, the "boss" who runs the dorayaki stand, than we ever do of Tokue though it is her story. Tokue pushes the other characters into action by simply being her own genuine, sweet self.

Unlike western cinema this is a quiet film - there are no explosions, chases or kisses either. But it still manages to be deeply moving. Sentaro's lack of emotion, his plodding through life morphs into tears and a pure joy beneath the cherry blossoms at the close of the movie.

Release Date: 17 March
See it at Lighthouse Cinemas

February 24, 2016

Knitting While Sleeping

The Fringe Festival tends to offer some weird options which turn out to be either awful or awesome. Knitting While Sleeping is of the latter variety.

Warning: contains audience participation. I was anxious before the show started. I hate audience participation. Please, please, don't pick me. They didn't. Then I was anxious for the people on stage - would the dancers step on them?

It seemed a little like you and your friends got drunk and decided to dance, while having a pillow fight. Except that, unlike you and your friends, they can dance, in unison. Feathers fell like snow. Dancers birthed from each other then intertwined like jealous lovers. Finally the pressure is too much and one dancer has a complete mental breakdown on stage. There is also a chicken.

From anxiety to hysterics of laughter to thoughts of "what the hell will they do next?" this performance piece takes you through everything. It's only got a short season so go see it while you can.

Performances: 24-27 February, 9pm
Tickets: $18

February 18, 2016

Putting the G'Day in Cabaret

10pm on a Wednesday night (I have been known to refer to this as a "school night") would normally find me either in bed or preparing for it. Last night I didn't get to bed till 11:30pm which, if you knew me you'd know, is pretty impressive. It was my first foray into the Fringe Festival this year appropriately held at the Fringe Bar.

What would a real Aussie bloke think of cabaret? What would a former-kiwi-turned-Australian woman pretending to be an Aussie bloke think of cabaret? That pretty much sums up the show. Thank you and good night!

I was tired and part of me was wondering why I agreed to be there, so much so that I appreciated the apologies from the performer about "technical difficulties." Ah, but then the techie came on stage and it was beautiful. Who knew you could get leather jackets that lit up? A true bogan mocking burlesque was genius and I was happy I turned up.

Joana Simmons is multi talented - actress, signer, comedian, dancer and I'm reasonably sure she wrote and choreographed the whole thing too. After the bogan came a diva, a hipster, a reporter and another Australian character. It seemed that every form of comedy was brought in from puns to physical and making the stage hand uncomfortable to making the audience uncomfortable.

The highlight for me was the first dance. Some of the other sketches seemed to last a little long (yes, yes, we get the joke). It's a shame the show isn't at a more hospitable time but I think it's worth losing a little sleep over.

Shows: 17-20 February, 10pm
Venue: The Fringe Bar, Allen St
Tickets: $17

February 15, 2016

Extraordinary Tales of Strength and Daring

Tacked onto the end of Webstock (a two day party conference for those who work in the webspace) is Extraordinary Tales of Strength and Daring an afternoon of talks which, as far as I could tell, was by women for women. The candles and floral theme should have tipped me off.

As the proceeds go to Women's Refuge and Rape Crisis I had expected harrowing tales focused on overcoming men ruining their lives. Another attendee had expected a feminist or political slant around current issues. Their friend had expected tales of lived experiences as a woman, from everyday women. It was none of those things though the last was touched on necessarily by each speaker and especially by Zelda Edwards. None of us had expected the event to feel so sanitised. I identified with the first two speakers but these two attendees discussed leaving during the break, but were glad they didn't as the second half was well worth staying for.

Cindy Gallop is a force of nature. Natasha, the organiser, confessed she wanted to keep Cindy in a cupboard and bring her out whenever inspiration was required. No cupboard would hold Cindy in my opinion though I wanted to take her home too. Her talk can be summed up: wear what you want, date who and how you want, say what you want (I cleaned up the language a bit). This self affirming talk was followed by Zelda Edwards former superwoman trying to be everything to everyone who changed tacks completely to become a zumba instructor. I could have heard more from her. I did wish we were in a different space so that everyone could have joined in the dance she led.

My expectations were not met but I ended up having a great time. It was a little like a women's TED gathering but with less messages being conveyed. I wish all speakers had been as good as the last two but had these two not completely overshadowed the others I still would have enjoyed myself.