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