February 25, 2017


No one could be quite as excited as two classics geeks to see a dance show about the Olympian Gods unless it's the young dancers supporters who screamed and hollered whenever someone they recognised came on stage [distracting but encouraged by the organisers].

A mix of hip-hip, contemporary and music you can feel in your bones is used to depict each God (a few mythological monsters are thrown in for good measure). There was reasonable diversity of age in the dancers though the boys were well outnumbered, others having not yet come to the conclusion that girls like a boy who can dance. Across the board there was impressive skill and energy shown by all the dancers.

Watching each dance was a little like greeting old friends. I'd say the Gods were pleased.

February 23, 2017

Hangry Americans

What should you eat when you're in a hotel room at 2am? What should you eat when you've been rejected and drunk dialled all your exes (and none of them want to come over)? Neil Thornton and Molly Sokhom will enlighten you.

This show is two stand up sessions plus two bonus "cooking" segments which include both comedians. Opening night was a hit, in fact it was over sold - more than ten people hovered at the back of the room rather than in the provided seating.

There was a little bit of food humour woven into the comedy, questions about what New Zealand cuisine consists of, and some thanks for not being in America. The comedy was really good but it didn't focus heavily on food, anger (hangry = hungry + angry), or even being American.

February 21, 2017

Summer Shakespeare: All's Well That Ends Well

After several cancelled performances due to the wonderfully unpredictable Wellington weather Sundays performance was blisteringly hot. The audience fanned themselves with programs and several produced umbrellas. The cast had a harder time in suits, leather boots and stockings (not all at once) as they raced up and down the tiered seating.

I admit, it was hard to focus in the heat. The venue, Civic Square, is much more accessible than previous ones. Including to outsiders; it was quite amusing to watch people stop or wander towards the lift always (such interruptions were always well managed by cast).

All's Well That Ends Well focusses on Helena and her love for the son of her foster mother the Countess of Rousillon. Instead of enlisting the help of the Countess she hatches a scheme to make the Count marry her. He, of course, objects to this and the rest of the play is dedicated to bringing them together. There are subplots about the servants but they were hard to follow, not helped by the fact that at least two of them appeared to be jesters. I'm not sure if the fault of this lies with Shakespeare or the production. Though the ending is happy it's not entirely satisfactory, it feels a little ridiculous and rushed.

My favourite parts of this production were the crying bride, excellently played in the background; the use of the lift and balcony and; the Harley-Davidson - I'll leave you to guess what that was about.

February 17, 2017

Dark Matter

A hazy spotlight shows a woman on the floor. Lights illuminate fog. The woman disappears. The audience leans forward in their chairs. Is she still there? The woman reappears, a figure behind her. The fog reruns to obscure them both.

Dark Matter is a set of seven pieces, 'haiku', a mixture of light, sound and hidden figures. It's in the depths of the Te Whaea performing arts center.

One thing I love about Fringe is the opportunity to see things I never otherwise would have even heard of. They tend to fall into two camps - amazing or terrible. This show was somehow neither.

The light deprivation was unsettling, making this not a show for the light hearted. The three central pieces were emotive - at one point I was sure they were going to kill us. Surely it's normal to think or murder in a darkened theatre? But I left uncertain what some of the pieces were trying to get me to think.

February 15, 2017

Feeling Groovy

All Saints, Hataitai, 15th February 2017, 7:45pm session

Melbourne contemporary dancer Jacob Edmonds really put his heart into this one and it is a shame more people won't get a chance to see it in the Fringe.  There was something surreal about the whole experience.  Outside, a soft evening light was lingering.  Inside, as you go into the naturally-lit space you can dish yourself up a teal plastic cup of popcorn or a lime cup of Fanta before the show.  It was an easy, welcoming.  From comfy chairs and rainbow beanbags, the audience watched the unpredictable performance of a predictable journey of questioning and experimenting with the notion of being exposed on a stage and 'performing' dance theatre with a touch of mime.  But it was the end that everyone will remember:  it felt as if all of the theory was just a vehicle to arrive at a glorious, stylised, and uplifting solo to Simon & Garfunkel's Feeling Groovy a.k.a. The 59th Street Bridge Song.  This dancer looked like how children's TV presenters would if they truly believed in the joy of the message they are imparting to the kids.  The earnestness was refreshing and exquisite, and would do well to be available on replay to anyone who needs an cheering-up escape into a world of multicoloured stage lights and his fine repertoire of movement on all axes (thanks NZ School of Dance), the most effective one being his captivating grinning and winking stage face, whilst a peachy neon sun set outside in the Wellington evening.  

“ZE”: Queer As F*ck!

Ivy, 14th February

This is Ren Lunicke’s Hirstory, and as such, can’t really be judged as good or bad, right or wrong – we are privileged to see it performed in zir energetic words and actions.  Here are some reason to see the show:

·         If you like concentrated celebrations of genderqueerness
·         If you like laughing along with genderqueer people too!
·         If you want only a gentle, but existent, level of audience participation in your Fringe choice
·         If you are sick of people you try to explain genderqueerness to acting like you just made it up to annoy them – this show is a good educational tool and might do well for various community and institutional groups, especially those ones who think they don’t need it.

Here are some things that will happen:

·         Without warning, childhood sexual abuse is briefly mentioned and not dealt with much after, which may be a bit sudden and shocking for some.
·         Other aspects of zir life as a developing genderqueer person are actually very sadbecause of the world ze lives in – this balances with the enthusiasm and special brand of dildo-hilarity, giving the show the weight of a real live experience, but the depth of the heartbreak in some parts of zir life are hard to recover from.
·         In the flurry of listing and accepting all the possible labels and anti-labelling labels a few may have been used in a slightly off way, but we are shown that it is up to the individual how they identify, and everyone else can go jump.
·         In the flurry of welcoming every possibility of everything, it’s easy to forget that there are many ‘privileges’ the performer has (such as being able to show off zir able-bodied-ness and allude to a conventional notion of ‘hotness’) that the people in the audience encouraged to identify, may not.  The performance can even come off as a bit conventional in all its purported radicalness… But that depends who’s watching!
·         The value of such performances is apparent even as, in the light of the following day this review is being written, a conversation involving jokes of a homophobic nature (in the sense that possible sexual activities of gay people are being canned as universally, objectively unappealing) is taking place in our central city within earshot.  Long live Fringe, we need you, all of you!

Even though ze didn’t cry rainbows like the poster, bottom line is, this is entertaining as f*ck!