July 24, 2019


An older woman and a younger woman open the show, fighting for a pair of Orchids. Are they Persephone and Demeter? Later there are references that feel like Medusa. But overall there is no discernible storyline to ORCHIDS, although it did seem like there was at points - till the dancing wandered off into something else.

A diverse cast - not the expected slim, white, young female - helped give this show some interest. They especially seemed excited to be on stage. I would have liked if ORCHIDS had managed to evoke emotions other than confusion or brief surprise.

A trigger warning for those that have issues with violence.

Performances: 24-27 July
For times, tickets and further details click here

July 20, 2019


It's not often Te Papa hosts anything on their stage other than conference speakers. Extra staff are on hand to direct people not accustomed to the venue, all museum parts are roped off and any hope of having a late night look around, or sneak peek at the new Te Taiao Nature exhibit are crushed.

A small crowd gathers waiting for the doors to open. Finally, we're allowed in. There are no allocated seats. Greetings are heard as old friends find each other, a hug, a kiss then a seat shuffle so they can sit together. Pretty soon the shuffling becomes harder as more people arrive.

A dark stage. A tiny mountain of sand surrounded by a large ring (I do not envy the cleaners) are the only stage decorations. Breath, haunting, fills the large darkened theatre - a Goddess is on stage.

From flowing, sweeping costumes to throbbing beats, from lights that make water appear on stage to movements both jerking and fluid Opepū illustrates the six atua wahine (Māori Goddesses) who control the winds of the world.

The audience are enthralled, there's not even a whisper the whole performance in the packed theatre where everyone seems to know someone. As the stage lights go down at the end of the show there's a pause - is it over? - then one brave person starts clapping and the theatre erupts in cries and applause.

Contemporary dance can be a bit hit and miss, in my experience, as can culturally based performances. It might be too artsy and the audience may not understand. But with all the potential to miss the mark Onepū manages to hit it squarely.

Performances: June 28 - August 22
Check times, locations and ticket sellers here

July 10, 2019

The Dunstan Creek Haunting

"If there's something strange in your neighborhood..."

So goes the familiar theme tune that introduces the audience to The Dunstan Creek Haunting at Circa Theatre. Lulled into a sense of security by the music and the ebullient duo, David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache introduce us to the sites and the stories of the gold mining days in Central Otago. Their tales begin with the tragic tales of 'Somebody's Darling' and the Chinese miners who refused credit by the mean-spirited grocer before morphing into the world of murder.

It's not long before we realise someone or something may have followed the duo out of the goldfields. Unexplained phenomena disturb the audience, strange occurrences disrupt the performers and a sense of dread permeates the theatre before the final denouement.

The more nervous were squealing while even the more cynical were unsettled and jumpy. The excellent stagecraft, sound and lighting all contributed to ratchetting up the tension and paranoia. For those of you who enjoy the gothic and the ghostly, this is well worth making the effort. Remember to sleep with the lights on when you get home though...

Performances: 9-20 July
For tickets, times and further details click here

July 7, 2019

The Aliens

“Where are the aliens?”

“In the basement!” laughs the receptionist at Te Whaea, Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington.

The Basement is an appropriate venue for this play. Concrete and steel surrounds a sparse set, befitting of this play which makes no effort to soften it’s story.

Jasper (Jonny Potts) and KJ (Jack Sergent-Shadbolt) sit at a rough table out the back of a café. They have been musicians, perhaps they are geniuses. They certainly think a lot, but circumstances mean they have had little formal education, and they seem trapped in their world.

Young Evan (Dryw McArthur) comes across them as he is putting out the café rubbish bags. He doesn’t know what to make of them. Jasper and KJ see their role to enlighten Evan in their view of the world.

Cassandra Tse directs the trio through an intense 100 minutes. Her production is consistent. The ‘thrown together’ nature of the venue (including hired rostrum holding upright seats), the minimalist set, even the rumble of Toi Whakaari students coming and going above our heads all seem to contribute to the atmosphere. The audience is drawn into the story Jasper and KJ bring to us. What will the effect be on the innocent and naive Evan? I recommend you go along to find out. If this sounds like your sort of play, then you won’t be disappointed. (.. and remember to take some cash for the bar!)

The Aliens by Annie Baker at Te Whaea, July 2019