White Men is the satire you’d expect from its name. Five men, played by women, ignore their survival instincts in favour of preserving their money, status and order as the sea rises around them. It is absurd, while at the same time being completely realistic and recognisable to just about anyone who has encountered a white man – the truth of it being that it is not the show that is absurd, but the patriarchy. And in 2021, after men like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have opted for “just carrying on” in the face of a pandemic and a climate emergency, it takes on a new kind of realism.
That’s All She Wrote is Red Scare Theatre Company’s latest spellbinder. In a move that shouldn’t be revolutionary but is, this show puts the work of female and non-binary musical theatre writers in the spotlight. Red Scare promises cabaret but delivers a robust experience that doesn’t skimp on any of the theatrical elements at its disposal, while still preserving that stripped-back feeling that gives the music space to be heard.
The Hall Monitors Present: Time Out is a one-hour improvised performance loosely inspired by The Breakfast Club and set in the detention room of a 1980s high school. It’s not Theatresports™. It’s not your whacky “short-form” improv. It’s a real-time, one-act show about real people, that just happens to be made up on the spot.
I’m not a parent, but I did take a two-year-old to The Lost Letter. She doesn’t have a lot of words, and theatre definitely isn’t one of them, but she was riveted for almost all the 50 minutes of this Capital E National Theatre for Children show – and if that isn’t an advertisement for kids’ theatre, I don’t know what is.
Shitspeare is a rapid-fire devised piece, cutting together words from various Shakespeare plays to reframe them from a feminist perspective. It examines gender power imbalances in modern day Aotearoa and calls for change.
When I think of outer space, planets experiencing identity crises and crumbling under the pressure to be exactly who or what we’ve told them to be are not the first things that come to mind. Perhaps, then, this is precisely what makes the premise behind Celestial Nobodies land so well. Written by Evangelina Telfar and directed by Anastasia Matteini-Roberts, Celestial Nobodies is a clever polylogue that uses its otherworldly scope to engage with identity, individualism, labels, social pressures, and expectations. Mostly, the show does so with satisfying panache, combining stellar performances with a bright, poetic script, but occasionally, it becomes pockmarked by uneven crafting.
Whenever I see stand-up comedy, I wonder if it will keep me engaged for a full hour. It’s not easy when it’s just you and a mic, but the winner of Best Solo Show for Nelson Fringe 2020, The Cool Mum by comic Jo Ghastly, removes the downfalls of stand-up by pulling narrative into the equation. Instead of having to listen to someone crack one-liners for an hour or tell a long-winded story, the audience gets to sit down to something with a structure that has actually been thought out.
Anyone had doubts about the universe? More specifically, faith? Is there a god or higher power? Why are we here? These are serious existential questions, and seeing Spiritual Banana won’t necessarily give you the answers, but it’s an entertaining ride all the same.
Spiritual Banana is filled to the brim with hip hop songs, rap, breakdancing, singing, interpretive dance, monologues, and yoga. It’s an eclectic controlled-chaos vignette-style show where Joana Simmons a.k.a. Banana Jolie takes us through her journey with faith and what faith means.
Fab Beasts is a double bill of two short comedy shows about mythical creatures. The first, The Utterly Last Unicorn is about a group of property managing unicorns fighting for a place on Noah’s ark. The second, A NESScesary Detective is about Detective Ness, a loch ness monster detective who solves a local murder.
I Don’t Know How to Dance is a theatrical celebration of dance brought to the New Zealand Fringe Festival by contemporary folk duo Good Habits (Bonnie Schwarz and Pete Shaw). The show revolves around a series of audio interviews with dancers of all sorts from around the world. From the pressure of being a professional dancer in a social dance setting to the history of Capoeira in Brazil, the interviews are varied and interesting and beautifully accompanied by Good Habits and dancer Cade Hansen.
The Yellow Cat Collective reimagines Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s 1892 short story as a dreamy dance horror. The Yellow Wallpaper dazzles the senses with its immersive set, use of scents, poetic narration and ethereal movement. Exploring themes of isolation and oppression from an early feminist text, I can’t think of a better show to share with you on International Women’s Day.
Frames of the Chaos is a pre-recorded solo retelling of an immigrant rights protest from the perspective of documentary-maker Shinzo. In its blurb in the Fringe programme, the show describes itself as ‘epic poetry of our time’ and touts writer and performer Hideto Ambiguous as an ‘award-winning migrant storyteller’. It sets me up with high expectations, and what is delivered does not come close to meeting them.
Cupid’s Guide to Modern Romance is an improvised romantic comedy with the aim of helping us figure out this whole love thing. It’s part cute and wholesome queer romance, part self-help and 100% a feel good time.
Big Foot by Fringe-nominated makers of Should Have Said No, Blue Flicker Productions, explores the space where imagination and denial meet. Siblings Eva (Rebekah de Roo) and Charlie (Daniel Nodder), now adults, go hunting for their presumed-dead childhood friend Big Foot in the Land Beyond the Garden Shed, taking the audience on a tour of the fantasy world, their sibling relationship and their grief.
ALONE is a thrilling, intergalactic journey that asks the big questions about life, religion and David Bowie. Winner of Auckland Fringe Festival’s Best Theatre and PANNZ Tour Ready Production awards last year, Dusty Room Productions brings ALONE to Wellington and it lives up to the hype.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.