February 26, 2024

Some Regrets

I'm not entirely sure what Sam Gibson Regrets after seeing his show but I don't regret seeing it. Admittedly the Cavern Club is a little snug and the sound is a little overpowering, but it was worth it.

Technical difficulties lead to a bit of a slow start which may be why Sam seemed a little unsure of himself initially. He gained traction and was really into the swing of things, pulling from headlines and Facebook comments sections as well as personal experience to keep the audience amused. 

Highlights included: comparing queer culture across the country, comparing the National Party to Christchurch, comparing the royal family to drag race (perhaps the only true royalty?), counting red flags 

It was, unfortunately, obvious from several comments he made that this show was written a while ago. Feeling the need to mention that made him seem unconfident in his material which had no need to be - a couple of years doesn't make an occurrence irrelevant.

Sam saves the very best routine till last, gasps of horror followed by cackles of delight... You'll know what I mean when you see it.

Tickets: $20

Performances: 8pm 25/26 Feb

February 21, 2024

Ben Pope: Holy Cow

Benedict Pope - not to be confused with Pope Benedict, for starters he's alive and a "lapsed Catholic" (the lovely way Catholics have of saying the only way out is death) - tells intertwined tales of his life, mostly at weddings, none of them his own. 

It may say something about the way Kiwi guys dress that till Ben specifically referred to an ex as a woman, I'd assumed he was gay (he has an English accent and was wearing a button-down, apparently that's all it takes).

As all good shows are, it wasn't entirely off the cuff, there was a flow and order with specific call backs, but he was perfectly confident in adapting to the audience response and had specific pieces tailored to a Wellington crowd.

Fringe is always a mixed bag so I never take a seat convinced I'll have a good time, I may instead be in agony for an hour. No such worries here, everyone in the audience was laughing and it was intelligent humour too, not settling for cheap laughs for swearing or crassness (ok so there was some crassness, but it was classy, must be the accent). If he managed to come here all the way from the UK I should have known he'd be good, and he was.

I managed to squeeze in to his packed final performance. His show is funnier than this review and I'm sorry you missed it.

February 18, 2024


Another mix of poetry, politics and dance from Akeim Toussaint Buck, this time collaborating with an animator and using material from multiple refugee stories. The source of the stories is a research project out of the University of Manchester entitled Reckoning with Refugeedom.

It is somehow both on a larger and smaller scale than Displaced, which you could class as a sibling piece. The narrative still sounds personal but is drawn from many people's experiences. The landscape is smaller, the animation drilling down to mere movement in space. As a shorter piece it is more digestible than its sibling, though I think the other is more visually appealing. Both explore the experience of "othering" or being "othered" and how labels can cause people to lose track of individuals inherent humanity. The systems come under fire again too; surely everyone can't shrug and say "that's not my job." This feels more like a call to action.

Tickets: pay what you can

Performances: online, anytime

February 17, 2024


 Displaced is a deceptively simple piece, mixing the personal with the public to tell a universal story through dance, poetry and film. Akeim takes us through his journey from Jamaica to the UK, from outcast to citizen - but perhaps never really truly dropping the outcast label. 

We have forgotten how to be human. We have forgotten our roots or they've been torn from us. Identity is more than skin deep. We walk with our ancestors in this modern world, the generational trauma heavy on our back.

Visually beautiful the landscape moves from beach to forest to urban parks, streets and interiors; Akeim dancing or interacting with others, sometimes it's like he belongs but sometimes he stands out. I imagine this is the point, that this is how his life feels. How life feels for many, even if they were "born here." 

You can watch this on the surface to enjoy the movement, music and poetry (couldn't find a word starting with M), or you can go deeper to really hear the message about decolonisation, about our humanity.

Tickets: pay what you can

Performances: online, 16 February-26 March 2024

February 15, 2024


You've heard of Odysseus, that questionable Greek hero, now meet Odyssea. She's the feminist counterpart to the myth. Instead of stealing, she barters and helps those she meets on her journey, who in turn help her.

It's a dance film with a twist, only one woman dances and we only ever see her highly painted hands. This seems impossible with the choreography spanning the screen and multiple hands appearing. The background music is always familiar but not quite the piece you think it is, making you question everything.

Fabric makes a landscape, a seascape, to host boats made from drift wood and other coastal pieces. It all appears so simple but it's obvious deep thought has gone into every choice. Odyssea is charming and somehow innocent - how is this possible? The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Part of Fringe's online offerings this film started as a pandemic project.

Tickets: $8

Performances: view online, anytime

February 10, 2024

No Hetero / Exes and Nos

Two queer Canadian shows one after another at Circus Bar sounds like a great night. Yes, but also No. Unfortunately it means you inevitably compare the shows to each other and they have very different vibes. Don't get me wrong, both (as billed) are queer and Canadian and autobiographical - interestingly about coming out later in life - and also a little chaotic as all good dress rehearsals should be.

No Hetero very definitely has nothing to do with Taylor Swift; the friendship bracelets (bring cash to buy!) and show being split into eras are purely coincidence. Hadley hosting a show called the Taylor Swift Book Club also coincidental. She even emphatically promises to not mention Taylor Swift. Canadians are more like Americans that expected (sorry); they too go to summer camp and have very religious families. Hadley pokes fun at herself for the cringe worthy trends she followed and the obvious signs of her sexuality that were hidden under compulsory heterosexuality. Taking the audience on a joyful flashback through her life concluding with how she ended up here.

Exes and Nos is a musical journey through the dating life of Rachel Mercer through "cute angry songs". Initially, it seemed that the audience was flagging due to tiredness but they never really picked up. There are a couple of surprising twists to the show but they don't save it from being a bit of a downer after the energy of the first half of the night. The songs are cute but not quite punchy or polished enough and are lacking in presentation. The last song, with the most personality, is the best.

If you're queer, neurodivergent or just like a laugh, either show is good. If you're lacking in time or patience, see No Hetero.

Performances: 16/17 Feb from 7pm at Circus Bar

Tickets: $20 each (or $30 for both)

No HeteroExes and Nos