December 3, 2022


 Idiom is a variety show in its truest sense. There are traditional acts like cello playing and dance with the more modern circus, comedy and…ping pong? 

Laser Kiwi (a comedy trio) host an electric evening of performances all throughout December. They deftly manage the audience when one of them goes off script and the audience follows, adapting as they go, flowing onto the stage concealed behind props to appear as though by magic (the one act missing).

It’s the intersections of the acts that really make the show work. It opens with a ballerina in a tutu on a table while ping pong is played to a pounding beat, that same ballerina later dances in pared down leggings and bra to live percussion, the percussionist accompanies a juggling act. It doesn’t feel like separate performances, it’s cohesive. Even the audience gets involved with a game of Pictionary which was perhaps the funniest part of the evening and entirely unscripted.

The recurring robot is funny the first few times but their act should be halved and their dialogue kept to a minimum to maintain the punchy humour. Otherwise the music, the performers - even the stumbles! - were all enjoyable.

It would be an excellent outing if you haven’t organised your work Christmas yet.

Performances: 2-23 December, 8pm

Tickets: $50

November 5, 2022

Owls Do Cry

Owls Do Cry is a "contemporary response" to the Janet Frame novel. The novel may speak to an older generation while this performance is geared towards a younger; "contemporary" is very apt. However, you may find yourself equally confused whether you've read the book or which generation you belong too. 

The performance isn't something that would generally fit the narrow category of theatre, but like any performance the experience is subjective. Some of it was enjoyable, some bits were elements from the book and sometimes I wondered when it was going to end. My companion found it spoke to them in an undefined way; they enjoyed the performance but couldn't put their finger on why.

The fourth wall was often broken; performers spoke directly to the audience, acknowledged the book existed and that they were actors rather than the characters. The book itself makes an appearance - on stage and in the audience. It was distracting to be given a book then have to pay attention, then difficult to release.

Something in the marketing reminded me of Strasbourg 1518 and there were similarities; semi nudity, performers throwing themselves around stage seemingly at random but it's actually finely choregraphed. Unlike Strasbourg, Owls Do Cry speaks directly to the audience and includes them, we are participants rather than voyeurs. Performers break into song, the movements are almost acrobatic so much so that we worried for the older actors backs.

The lighting deserves special mention. You don't often consider lighting during a show but here it was a performer itself, equally important as the human counterparts. A barely lit person on a black stage becomes a crucifix, a beacon, words meld into each other then become waves and water drowning the actors.

You may enjoy this or you may spend the 70 minutes wondering when it's going to end, but it will give you something to think about. If you go in expecting a literal translation of the novel you'll be in for a shock.

Performances: 3-13 November (times vary)

Tickets: $54

October 4, 2022

The Wasp

The Wasp is a creepy delight. There are twists on top of twists on top of twists, only one of which I didn't see coming. This may have been intentional so you have a moment of "oh no, I know what's going to happen" or I could be patting myself on the back for being so very, very smart. I suspect it's the former.

Two women meet, it's been 20 years since they last saw each other. But have either of them changed, can we ever change? The acting was such perfection that it felt like eavesdropping on someone's conversation. Even when the characters almost switch roles in the second act it was so believable that the breath caught in my throat. 

We never really heal from the scars of childhood; even if we escape cycles of abuse it's still within us. Somehow there are laughs too, it's darkly amusing. The scenes unfolding on stage are extreme yet somehow scarily relatable. There is something so satisfying in a good revenge plot, it almost makes you wish you had an enemy.

 In one word: brilliant.

Trigger warnings (or content warnings) should be front and centre, not buried at the bottom of the programme under the title "audience care" or the bottom of the webpage with no title at all (under the much more prominent run time which was all in red). Once tickets have been purchased, or the audience member has sat down, the sunk cost fallacy comes into play. It is unacceptable in this day and age to spring this sort of content on unaware and potentially vulnerable audience members. Circa: do better.

Performances: 1-29 October, times vary

Tickets: $54

June 16, 2022

The Wedding Singer

The essentials are the same but The Wedding Singer musical is different from it's source material. Slight plot changes culminate in a hilarious Vegas scene as Robbie "collects" impersonators - perhaps something better handled on stage than on screen where it might have ruined the heart of the movie. That's what's missing in this show; heart. There are bad wigs, big musical numbers and awful accents, but no heart. 

A fundamental flaw in the concept is that the two main characters, Robbie and Julia, aren't flashy enough to carry a musical. You'll find the side characters are pumped up and any of them are more than capable of having their own show. In fact I'd pay good money to watch Linda's (Ashlee Hammerin) musical, she could carry four. Also of note was Romy Vuksan as Holly, Julia's cousin, when she was wasn't overacting but had a solo and a Madonna inspired outfit she was unmissable. Give Linda and Holly free rein and the show would be 100% better...though it should be noted that both characters were overly sexualised. The rapping grandmother (Susan-Ann Walker) deserves a mention, but only for that one song.

Christian Charisiou is much hotter than Adam Sandler but where Sandler's Robbie is innocent and charming, Charisiou's Robbie comes across as arrogant, obnoxious and, as George notes, in need of an anti-psychotic. Elise McCann's Julia Sullivan was irritating rather than innocent, skipping the wide eyed ingénue they were aiming for. There's an innocence to the leads in the movie that comes across as stupidity in this production. I couldn't care about them or their romance, though part way through the second half I almost felt it when they had a duet about the love they were hiding from each other.

The cast sings original songs rather than 80's classics so there are scarce chances to sing along, a huge disappointment. It was so over produced that I almost walked out after the first song. The second act opens with the most annoying genre convention of a very long pointless song.

The audience was older than expected, heavily 60+ rather than 40+ and often unmasked as masking was not a requirement of the venue (another reason to skip this one).

This is all cheese and cringe but no charm. If you loved the movie, don't see the musical.

Tickets: $79+

Performances: 10-19 June (Wellington, show then moves to Auckland)

June 15, 2022

Body of Work

Body of Work offers a range of services such as naturopathy, chiropractic, yoga and massage. It's located in central Lower Hutt and although they do not offer parking the War Memorial Library is a short walk away - if you aren't up for the short walk I suggest you try elsewhere as they are also up a flight of stairs. The premises and atmosphere are nice but the walls are thin.

Booking is easy to do online and, based on this, it appears they open for massage on Monday-Thursday and Saturday; with slightly longer hours on Monday and Thursday and an earlier closing on Wednesday and Saturday. The website lists a therapist who no longer works there and not all the links work, you need to look around to find the bios. They offer 10 trips for 30 or 60 minute massages saving you $50-100. There are four well qualified therapists to choose from, I was randomly allocated to Trina. 

My history wasn't really taken, which isn't a bad thing as it means more time on the table. A short form was included with the appointment confirmation though the therapist didn't mention this I assume she had accessed and read it. In response to the questions I was asked I indicated where I would like massaged and the pressure I preferred. So far, so good.

Unfortunately what comes next will, however I word it, sound like a list of complaints. The table was very high and I am not tall, getting on and off was difficult. The massage that followed could only be described as frustrating. Not all of the area I requested was treated though other areas were. Though I did ask for more pressure that only lasted for a short time. Some parts of treatment were good but no one wants to be constantly barking orders when you're meant to be relaxing. My goals were not met, areas were not fully or sufficiently treated, I walked away feeling as though I hadn't had a massage.

As a therapist it's important to keep in mind the power dynamics; clients often don't feel as if they can speak up, so ask for feedback and listen. If they seem uncertain striking up a conversation can help to ease them into answering your questions honestly. Watch for body language, do they tense or twitch? then pull back on your pressure. Adapt your table (or use a stool), draping, bolstering and treatment to your client. 

June 8, 2022

Presenting…The Tiwhas!

It's pride month, not that NZ tends to do it like the Americans - we scatter events throughout the year and regions. It's a time for supporting queer business and queer creatives. Should you feel the need to engage in pride, this is the event to do it. 

The Tiwhas (rhymes with divas) are exactly what it says on the packet; Māori drag queens. But they're so much more. There's the traditional lip syncs but most of the night is actual singing from the ladies and their back up singers, with choreography and a little, ok a lot, of attitude thrown in. It's an evening of poi, pukana and pop songs - heavy on the latter.

I ask you, is this what you expect your drag queens to look like?

No? Then you'll understand why the audience was raw from screaming by the end of the very first song when they appeared dressed as they are above. The screaming intensified as the performance progressed. I cannot express how much fun this was and also, in small doses, moving.

There are classic girl group hits, modern classics and a bit of te reo too. It's a beautiful mix of cultures representing who so many of us are; modern, Māori and queer.

Performances: 7-11 June, 7:30pm

Tickets: $35

May 21, 2022

Cringeworthy - The 80s

Cringeworthy is part concert, part history lesson with a side of comedy thrown in. It started slow with a song I didn't recognise, perhaps because as a country we still want to believe "there is no depression in New Zealand" so this song has dropped off rotation. The performers were constantly moving, the choreography was simple but effective, it was exhausting to watch them bounce around the stage. I don't know how they had the endurance to survive one song let alone the whole night, nor the memory for the steps.

The first half focused on local music and events; the second was more international and somehow more energetic with bigger wigs and brighter costumes. The audience seemed more relaxed too and responded with cheers and singing along.

Three of the four performers weren't born in the 80's which, as I was, I found mildly insulting. Harmonies weren't always great and backup vocals could have benefited from mic volume being reduced. But only a couple of the songs didn't quite match the singers voice.

This is a hilarious nostalgic piece that anyone who lived through the 80's can enjoy.

Andrea Sanders is not only the creator, she's also the director and one of the cast; she has done a phenomenal job and is a phenomenal performer. I wish I'd seen the 70's version and look forward to a 90's show that was hinted at.

Performances: 21 May - 11 June (times vary)

Tickets: $54

May 13, 2022

Surprise! Goodbye!

Imagine this: you're an improviser, you meet another improviser, you fall in love, you decide to move together. How would you farewell your friends and City?

Ben Jardine and Liz Butler are throwing themselves a surprise party. Each night they are surprised by fellow improvisers who come armed with an improvisational style for them all to perform together on stage.

The outcome? Spectacular. 

Geared up with party hats and treat bags the audience rolicked their way through a 90's soap opera of a Wellington comic book dynasty, featuring am unknown twin, an illiterate heir and a pole dancing grandmother.

It's clear the performers are having an excellent time as they attempt to stop themselves crying with laughter from the sidelines. As with all improv they adore painting their compatriots into metaphorical corners as much as collaborating.

Stand out performance was Claire as the stripper grandmother and rival comic book store owner, she also seemed to be doing a bit of managing the show. Noticeable in a not so great way was the person on the lights, who missed cues from performers even when everyone on stage was signaling.

You never know what you're going to get but it's worth the risk.

March 28, 2022

Another Universe by Miss Leading

Miss Leading curates her universe and it's many histories in this thought provoking piece. We are constrained to a single place and time, unable to investigate all the possibilities of what and who we could have been; the universe is limitless but life is finite.

She examines the paths she might have taken, the people she might have been through the use of artefacts. Which path would you choose - travel, career, family? Different choices mean different relationships, perhaps even different sexual identities. In none of her options is it possible to be unaffected by her past, her whakapapa or external events, nor is her choice ever free of others opinions of the right way to do it.

Blending acting and spoken word poetry to beautifully express things like "romance resides in held held device" to describe a long distance relationship that is an apt descriptor for many aspects of our lives these days. Covid has granted us introspection we've never allowed time for, take this gift. 

Performances: Online till 3 April

Tickets: Pay what you can

March 24, 2022

Miss Brontë

We all know the story of the Brontë's; literary, secluded, perhaps insular. What is fact? What is fiction? What is the result of historians or literary stalwarts motivations? It's little known that Charlotte married (to a controlling man who wanted her friend Ellen to burn her intimate letters, many of which are quoted in this play) or that the family weren't always tied to home.

Charlotte Brontë is a woman clawing a life of her own out of her limited options, the rosy family life we were sold is a lie - she and her sisters hid their writing from the male members of their family. But is this the lie at the centre of the play? Alongside the indignities of being a woman in a world that sees you as lesser, Charlotte endures the pain of witnessing her family die, one by one, their coughs haunting her dreams - a fate we were lucky enough to narrowly avoid.

What's the big secret that Miss Bronte is hiding? It isn't catastrophic, but that may be from a modern perspective. More surprising was the revelation that their life was more than the parsonage on the moors, all the sisters (and brother) left home but inevitably found their way back there. There was even time spent in Europe!

This play shows us that humans don't change over the course of 200 years. Our desires are the same; so are our mistakes or missteps. Family, respect, impact, individuality, creativity, these things remain even if all we have as evidence is writing.

Tickets: $22 (Sold Out)

Performances: 7pm 22-26 March

March 12, 2022

Imagining Rachel

Rachel Carson and Elise Robertson were born 12 miles and 6 decades apart. Rachel was a trail blazing woman scientist, writer and activist who you've probably never heard of. She pointed out that pesticides were damaging and the more correct label was biocides. Elise is a modern storyteller, she performs on the stage and here, in front of the camera. Rachel and Elise's lives intertwine in this inventive performance where an office is transformed into a hospital, a cabin, a creek, and even under the sea via projections, props, split screens, and stop motion imagery.

In some ways the choices we make as women now may seem small in comparison to those that Rachel made. But we have those very choices because women who came before us made it possible. Yet still we struggle. My mother wasn't believed 30 odd years ago when her water broke and no doctor witnessed it. A friend recently was complaining that younger women are using birth control incorrectly; it was to give them a choice, not to buckle down to male pressure. I argued that, we had no role models to learn this from. We are still learning to understand our independence, our choices. Though she never married or gave birth Rachel mothered 3 children, 2 nieces and a great nephew, managing to fulfil the more traditional female role while maintaining her independence and drive in a society that viewed women narrowly. Female support in it's many forms was also highlighted, we need each other to succeed.

This film is historical as well as personal, an act of performance and activism.

Tickets: $9

Performances: online, anytime (till 19 March)

March 6, 2022

CHANSONS – French Song & Stories from Piaf, Brel & Me

 Another Covid blessing is Chansons, an award winning online one woman cabaret show. Stefanie Rummel takes you on a tour around Europe (not just France) with a recorded Zoom show interspersed with videos from live shows - there may also be puppets. She is from Germany, speaks in English, and sings in French, but has travelled and performed extensively. Seeing her in person must be an electric performance as she manages to shine through the screen. I sincerely hope that this new medium will help her grow her audience to get the recognition she deserves. Lovers of music and culture won't want to miss this show.

Tickets: $9

Performances: online, anytime (till March 19)

February 27, 2022

Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairy Tales

There's a plague going on and the only way to connect with others is through a magic mirror. Sound familiar? Except this plague is 300 (ish) years ago and the person is a French noblewoman trying to contact characters from fairy tales to tell their side of the story.

This award winning, one woman, show will turn your perception of fairy tales on their head. Our Disney soaked view is clean and sparkling compared to the dark and often disturbing originals. This piece gives often overlooked characters the stage (or the screen) to sing their own tales of the truth; abuse, sex, murder and consent issues are all covered. These are not your childhood fairy tales, but they are very entertaining.

There are morals to be found here "beware of heroes" and "don't be swayed by jewels." With excellent characterisation and voice these stories are told in a way that may be closer to their archetypical intention.

Performances: online, anytime (till 19 March)

Tickets: $9

February 26, 2022

Satan vs God

Although the production value isn't great, you can tell it's a man in front of a projector screen, and the promotional materials mention music in dance in such a way that I thought this would be a dance piece, Satan vs God is a thought provoking one-man film.

It touches on issues with race - Lucifer/Satan is portrayed by a black man who mentions crosses burned in God's name with images of the KKK in the background. It raises questions like is it necessary to have evil to truly comprehend good? How can this be understood in the context of people who slaughter each other for religious reasons?

There are brief glimpses of freedom as a winged and gold adorned Lucifer dances on a beach in sunlight, so different from the pervasive red lighting of the rest of the film. 

Lucifer is "always the bridesmaid" and compares himself to God's other forgiven children, the unfairness he faces, like a teenager raging at the world. The parent/child relationship is evident with God infantilising Lucifer who only wants to come home.

Perhaps the most important question is raised through the ten commandments of Satan which seem eerily like rules our society functions under. Who do we really follow?

NB: I was raised religious but am not now. This film may be confronting for people of faith

Performances: online, anytime (till 19 March)

Tickets: pay what you can (UK) from $9

An Ice Thing to Say

One of the great things about Covid is more availability of everything online; the Fringe Festival has included several international acts via this medium. An Ice Thing to Say is an award winning film from a women led, London based, company. The promotional materials state it is about humans impact on nature, but you may come to a different interpretation.

Different styles of music and sound phase in and out as a woman dances in a warehouse with large blocks of ice. Then people dance alone in their houses, the gumboots in the bath was an especially nice touch. Then back in the warehouse the woman is joined by another person and emotion is exhibited. From there is becomes even more abstract - is it about the masks we wear? Pollution? Possession? Eventually the ice is destroyed.

All art is subjective, here are the bits that struck me. A voice over saying "will you be brave enough to let stillness and silence surround you?" The feeling of solitude against outside pressures, collecting shattered pieces of ourselves. Like many things in life ice is temporary, it melts.

Performances: Online, 18 February - 19 March

Tickets: $15

February 23, 2022

The Shit Kid

Small town New Zealand, horses, elicit sex, sibling rivalry, illegitimate children, bad neighbours, swearing - The Shit Kid has it all. Apart from the horses its the kind of mix you'd expect from a drama but this is a comedy. Though perhaps they'd need to throw in a suspiciously missing person to fit the kind of drama that's in vogue.

There were a couple of stumbles on opening night, as well as sound issues, but these were handled the kiwi way, with a laugh, self depreciation and swearing. As it's the development season this may be natural, but there are solid bones to build the show on before it opens to a wider audience.

Sharni is a hilarious character, if a little unsympathetic. Overshadowed by her brother, the one with the penis, she tries so hard to forge her own path but keeps fucking it up. There are a couple of surprisingly deep twists which could explain the characters stance but there's just something about her which makes it hard to be on her side, even if you want to. If anything needs a little work it's this aspect, I think I would have enjoyed this show more if I'd been rooting for Sharni.

Get your tickets now as several nights are already sold out and arrive early as Covid seating is not great for latecomers.

Performances: 22-26 February, 6pm

Tickets: $12

Breakfast Time

If you've ever cohabitated you know breakfast is contentious and often ends in an argument  - we're hungry and we need coffee, we're not rational. It's worse when your opponent is a virtual stranger, requiring politeness; in the case of Breakfast Time we're not talking about last nights hook up (yours or your flatmates), but a newly minted step sibling.

It's awkward and its honest and it's beautifully choreographed. The first part of the evening is a video depicting two young adults making breakfast together; despite the tension, it's almost boring. The sound quality isn't great so several lines go unheard, there is a strange bit where two lines are repeated; it's unclear whether this is intentional or misedited. There is a lot of silence and voices covered by the sounds of clanging kitchenware.

The second part of the evening is a live show. The same two characters reunite to dance their breakfast preparation in front of the audience, if you have not eaten before the show this is especially painful. We surmised they purposely excluded garlic and bacon from the recipe as the smell would fill the theatre. You'll notice the subtle differences in acting choices, the progression from film to theatre. They deconstruct their first interaction, who said what, the undertones, the implications, their backstories and motivations. They feel more like siblings than strangers, they have their own history. It's never established how much time has passed or what has occurred in the interim, it felt like perhaps something significant, but I could be completely misreading the situation and it's literally a breakdown of the video we've just watched.

Performances: 22-24 February, 6pm

Tickets: $20

February 20, 2022


Same-Same was unexpected, it was not a performance in a traditional sense more like a video call you've happened upon. It felt a tiny bit voyeuristic venturing into peoples private conversations over Zoom. This collaborative piece included 6 performers split evenly between Singapore and Adelaide in Australia. One of the upsides of the pandemic is the ability to build a community that defies boarders and abilities,  people that may otherwise have been isolated, aren't. The performers were asked questions and improvised a story together. Even the audience was included when asked to name some positives of Covid which included one person stating they learnt how to spell epidemiologist (yes, I used spell check for that). I acknowledge my privilege as an able bodied person, I believe this performance was for members of the community, including the performers themselves.

Tickets: $25

Performances: Sunday 20, 27 February (times vary)

February 19, 2022

No! I'm not Australian!

Ocean (like the sea) is a 20 something female who's been on her OE (Overseas Experience), she admits how lucky she was to do this life milestone before the world shut down. You'd think by the title of her show that the major thing she took away from her time in London was that they all think we're Australians. It seem perhaps what she learnt instead was that she's hotter in Europe (a point supported by a man at the airport and unicorn hunters - look it up) and despite being on a different continent, she can't escape herself.

Unlike other New Zealanders this trip wasn't as planned out as it could have been - there were no friends to meet, no flats to share, causing many calamities. Some of the jokes landed, most didn't, something Ocean herself admitted.

What seemed like it was going to be an hour long monologue of toilet humour and embarrassing (rather than funny)  anecdotes is split with several original songs relevant to the story. Though Ocean adopts a whiney "valley girl" voice for speaking, her tone while singing is gorgeous, shame about the content. Apparently we hadn't paid enough to see her intimate parts, not that any of us asked.

I thought perhaps I was too old to enjoy this show but my companion in her mid 20's wasn't thrilled either. Judging by the drunk young 20 females in the back I'd suggest they are the target audience.

Tickets: $15

Performances: 7pm 18-19 February

January 23, 2022

A Natural Woman

Ali Harper is back at Circa theatre with her tribute show to Carole King. This was more of an ensemble piece than her previous shows, the musicians and other singer all got their time in the spotlight.

Ali was obviously thrilled to be back in front of an audience. She sang and chatted and flirted with us all. She was vibrant and entertaining, and still possesses a beautiful voice. We were lucky enough to witness her first time accompanying herself, she confessed after the song finished. 

She's done her research, weaving parts of Carole's story into the show. Carole's career brushed up against almost every famous musician of her time, including an almost collaboration with The Beatles.

Some of the music would have been nostalgic for a good portion of the audience but it seemed to be timeless and appreciated by all. Even the younger ones will recognise several of the songs. The closing two pieces brought a tear to my eye.

Tickets: $54

Performances: 22 January - 19 February (times vary)