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