by Laura Ferguson
Much Ado About Nothing is part of the Alexander Sparrow and Katie Boyle comedy extravaganza currently being hosted at The Gryphon Theatre. There are nine different shows being performed by the talented pair. After seeing Boyle’s one-woman show of The Merry Wives of Windsor earlier in the year, I was intrigued at how Alexander Sparrow would put his spin on Much Ado About Nothing. While doing all the characters. On his own. I mean, wow.
Wise Guy is the latest theatrical offering from the exciting young company, Soy People Productions, and is their second mainstage production at BATS. This ambitious play tackles everything from the foibles of comedy to the harsh reality of an AIDS diagnosis in a full-flight theatrical exploration.
When Sam Brooks’ Burn Her opened at Auckland’s Q Theatre to rave reviews and sold-out houses, I don’t think I was alone in hoping and praying for a Wellington production. On at Circa until the end of August, Burn Her (directed by Katherine McRae) did not disappoint.
ORCHIDS is a mesmerising contemporary dance piece featuring an all-female, inter-generational cast. The sequences are introspective, expressive and explores the mysterious feminine divine and female relationships. The 55 minute performance is a revised piece by choreographer Sarah Foster-Spoull. Her time, energy and collaborative efforts with assistant director Natalie Maria Clark are evident in the beautifully layered and intricate imagery.
When I think of rugby, I think of my childhood. I think of the cold Waikato winters, when we travelled down the road to our neighbour’s house, an elderly lady who had Sky TV (we did not). I snuggled up to the gas heater while my brother, dad, good ole Dawn sat on the couch. She made me a watery Milo at halftime, served with shortbread biscuits. The four of us were entertained with All Black patriotism, a little family bonding over ninety minutes every winter Saturday. I wasn’t much impressed with my watery Milo but drank it anyway. This was my experience of Bleeding Black.
It was a cold and wintery night in Wellington. The vampires have all vacated Circa Theatre to make room for children’s theatre in the school holidays and a tröll… In the dungeon? No. In our very walls! Award-winning theatre company Trick of the Light give us TRÖLL, a 90s Icelandic-New Zealand dial-up internet story told by an enthusiastic and easily likable 11 year old Ottó (Ralph McCubbin Howell). Ottó really likes the internet because he’s able to connect to people who also like the Dark Ages, can be 12, and choose his own name. But when the internet takes a turn for the worst, Ottó falls into darker places, places where tröll’s grow…
Theatre company, Rollicking Entertainment’s latest offering to Circa Theatre is a deep dive into the world of hauntings and superstition. Inspired by performers Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman’s discovery (while on their honeymoon) of the many ghost stories which ruminate through the lands and minds of Central Otago, The Dunstan Creek Haunting is both a joyful adventure and spooky as heck.
MANIAC on the Dance Floor by Natasha Lay, directed by Adam Rohe and produced by A Mulled Whine, explores the highs and lows of mental illness to the beat of our favourite love-to-hate-it radio bangers. We follow Anna (DaeDae Tekoronga-Waka) while she flaunts her progress with her mental health, only to come to the realisation that she is living in denial about her own mental health struggles.
Part storytelling, part stand-up, Dancing on my Own is a jovial jive through the trials and tribulations of growing up queer and with ADD while being born for the stage. Maddy Warren, a master of physical comedy, comes into her own with the awkward punch line. Unfortunately, a lack of preparation lets her down and a sixty-minute show feels like a drawn out half hour.
The Aliens by American Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Annie Baker is a poignant piece, and Red Scare Theatre Company handles its themes with sincerity. Over the course of two hours we follow misfits KJ (Jack Sergent-Shadbolt) and Jasper (Jonny Potts) as they take seventeen-year-old Evan (Dryw McArthur) under their wing, and each begin to unravel. In a fitting touch, Red Scare opens the show on Thursday 4 July, which matches up with the show’s holiday setting.
Lonely Shakespeare Collective, the company that focuses on Shakespeare’s less popular plays, raises the stakes this year by presenting a tragicomedy that sparks debate over authorship. Double Falsehood is a play that I had only heard vague historic ramblings about—it is officially attributed to Lewis Theobald but is thought to be adapted from the lost play The History of Cardenio. It’s new territory for me, going into Shakespeare blind, but it’s satisfying to see the all too familiar plot devices crop up along the way.
by Laura Ferguson
A one-woman show of my favourite Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor? Oh, yes please! Katie Boyle makes my Shakespeare dreams come true with a ninety minute show where she embodies every one of the characters from the Shakespeare classic. So ‘twas a dark, rainy, frigid night I went along to the Newtown Community Centre to see how this iteration played out.
Having both received a Highly Commended in Playwrights b4 25 2018 and won the teenage category of Plays for the Young in 2017, Courtney Rose Brown’s Running Late has a bit of a reputation to uphold. On top of its accolades, any show with a completely sold out season creates a buzz of its own, so I was excited to say the least. To add to the opening night hype, audience members were offered the Beth Taylor touch™ of branded Running Late sugar cookies. They tasted great—if you were wondering.
Uther Dean’s ‘Elevation’ is a piece of classic, warm stand-up comedy that lifts the room. Its lightness is exactly what Dean says he is aiming for, following a heavy season of his 2018 NZICF show My Fat/Sad, and while ‘Elevation’ does dip into some serious content, its playfulness is what makes it most memorable. Over the next hour, Dean takes us on a surprising journey with the oddly thorough dissection of the U2 song ‘Elevation’.
Welcome to Kandallah Academy of Performing Arts! It’s 1982 and dopest dances and coolest singers prepare for a new term in their very best and brighest leg warmers. The completely improvised show is presented by with an extremely varied cast bursting with talent, ego and 80s references. Kickin’ Rad Productions deliver an episodic season of their colourful improv show for the Comedy Festival entry.
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