It’s my first time at the Newtown Community & Cultural Centre and the polished wooden floors and echoing high ceilings are transporting me right back to my roots in my small hometown where I first became enamoured with theatre. The people milling around are excited, talking and laughing together for the opening night of Gutenberg! The Musical! by Anthony King and Scott Brown. Gutenberg is one of my favourite historical figures, he who created the mass production of books and, therefore, my love of reading possible. This show intends to chronicle the invention of the printing press in a charming, earnest yet completely inaccurate fashion. So, if you haven’t guessed, this is a comedy.
Feminist fruit comedy punk band The Rotten Cores are back from their award winning Fringe season. In Discharge is Rotten to the Core, directed by Christine Brooks, friendships, old and new, are put the test during an intense band practice. The show is a fresh, vibrant, laugh out loud musical with lots of artificial colours and naturally funny flavours.
by Laura Ferguson
I arrived at BATS Theatre ready to laugh. I love comedy shows and have had brilliant experiences this year with sketch comedy in particular. Fuq Boiz: The Resurrection from Hamish Parkinson and Ryan Richards promised madcap humour, the blurb on the BATS website confidently stating “R18. No uggos”. With a statement like that, I was sure the evening would contain situations of the social determination “fuckboi”, a trope the internet generation has created. Even the title of the show, spelled is in the most fuckboi way possible, which gave every indication my hypothesis would come to fruition. Instead, the show shirks away from lambasting this modern phenomena. My hopes of social satire fading away faster than a fuckboi ghosting me after two and a half dates.
Ella Gilbert’s Soft Tissue has a rousing crowd for opening night. It’s the first time my partner and I have gone to a show so I’m excited to laugh as Soft Tissue is touted as “an affectionate comedy about the absurd performances of the ‘weaker’ sex”. In particular I was looking forward to how the show would move between “observations and conversations” as described in the blurb. Taking a seat, I’m looking forward to what is to come. That anticipation was thwarted quickly. Within the first five minutes of sole observation, I was gagging for the conversation. This, unfortunately, never came.
Directed by Rachel Lenart and written by Cherie Jacobson and Alex Lodge, Modern Girls in Bed is a comic and wholesome tale about family, sisterhood, and togetherness. I’ve been looking forward to this show since the promotional material started slipping around Wellington; I lapped at the chance to dive into a bit of New Zealand herstory and see just how our greats would clash with our modern girls. Yet, as great as the show’s performances are and as enjoyable as it was, Modern Girls in Bed is held back by an awkward show structure, lack of establishing context, and some stunning but unclear symbolism.
Sherilee Kahui presents a one-pigeon show. (A Smidge of) Pidge, directed by Hannah Clarke, is part stand-up and part sit-down-drink-wine. Kahui plays Pidge, the human unfortunately dressed as a pigeon. This black comedy offers a range of absurd skits that explore the big questions with flare and farce.
by Laura Ferguson
There are bubbles and blue paraphernalia all around the Heyday Dome at BATS for Hilary Penwarden’s The Loneliest Whale in the World. The show is very full for opening night and the crowd is excited and familiar with Penwarden’s work judging from the conversations surrounding me. This is my first time, and I am already enjoying the friendly atmosphere and the blue-sequined prom dress Penwarden is sporting.
Considering the title of the show, I shouldn’t have been so surprised at how welcome I did feel to the murder house. Indian Ink’s latest offering begins with a bang, opening the show with an eerie opening number sung by a collection of creepy inmates. Discordant yet surprisingly catchy, the number is - no pun intended - electric. The mottley crew of prisoners inform us they're here for one night only - what kind of tale will they tell us?
A tiny wee puddle of concern leaked out of my brain as myself and a group of friends entered BATS. Randomly point to any corner of Wellington, and you’ll find stand up comics with varying levels of experience in bars talking about how fat and/or sad they are, to equivalent degrees of success. With a show title so abrupt, I worried “Will this be a bit trash? Will this stand out?” Then I stepped into the Heyday Dome and heard Neil Cicierega’s mashup of Hans Zimmer’s Time with Village People’s Y.M.C.A playing as pre-show music.
Oh yeah. This is Uther Dean. There’s no way I could come out of this and not have my mind appropriately freaked.
by Laura Ferguson
It’s my last show for the Comedy Festival 2018 and I am lucky enough that it is Giggly Gertie’s, the comedy skit show coming from the duo Chris Parker and Tom Sainsbury. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to this show and I am all the happier for the surprise it gave me.
by Laura Ferguson
I had not seen Matthewson before, but had heard great things from his previous shows and his alumni status as nominee for the Billy T Awards brings a load of expectation with it. As a huge fan of The Male Gayz podcast, helmed by Chris Parker and Eli Matthewson, I heavily anticipated An Inconvenient Poof. Bounding on stage with a hilarious song from the 1970’s that seemed so perfectly tailored to Mathewson, I settled in for an hour I was sure would be full of laughs.
Lana, 20-something, Rotorua. A Sagittarius-cat owner-stand up comic with a “it was mutual” breakup haircut seeks romance, midnight snacks and ex boyfriends’ weddings. In her first solo NZ Comedy Festival entry, Lana dishes on her disastrous attempts at dating and faking having everything together.
by Laura Ferguson
When I hear the term ‘chat show’ I usually think of bland people desperately attempting to be interesting while selling their daytime audience products they never want or need. If chat shows were more like Marcel Lucont’s A Chat Show, I would religiously watch all of them. Replete with Lucont’s ubiquitous red wine with which to imbibe, or more likely quaff, communion.
Inquisitive eyes etched on paper in thin, cross-hatched strokes study me as I enter Thistle Hall. A slender ceramic pot with pursed lips judges my sock and shoe combo. Celia Kent’s first solo exhibition Expressive Features: The Nose Knows presents portraiture and pottery. Each piece is unique and screams character. The walls are adorned with her black and white illustrations while the anthropomorphic pots add soft blues, greens and foliage upon their tall plinths.
Loser happens to be my first show in the Te Auaha performance space, and walking into its Tapere Nui, I see an intimate space for a bigger theatre. Across the back curtain are movers projecting the eight original colours of the Pride Flag. Beside her mic stand is a box... full of Best Foods Mayonnaise. The show hasn’t even begun and I’m already excited to see what Urzila Carlson makes of this.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.