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.
“Nah, fuck that”, Chopper exclaims as a bright light shines on an altar, where God tells him he’s dead for good. Sounding disgruntled (we presume as he’s obfuscated with a white sheet), Chopper convinces God to bring him back to life on the condition that he’ll rekindle the audience’s belief in the Divine within the show’s runtime. As the newly arisen Bogan Jesus, he has a few ideas to modernise religion and fix what’s no longer working for it. Heath Franklin’s Bogan Jesus is a balls-to-wall, full-throttle, beer-chugging, power-hour-and-a-bit of comedy; we take a trip with Chopper and his revision of religion to discover why we’re less religious today than we were before.
Ensemble is the perfect title for this exhibition. Four mature female artists are showcasing their very different talents. Wax, watercolour, beads and textile presented together offer a complimentary kaleidoscopic treat.
by Laura Ferguson
“Sit down, be humble,” blasts Kendrick Lamar in BATS’ Propeller Stage. Well, I am sitting down, beer in hand, and indeed humbled. Not by Mr. Lamar, but by those who wield his work. Frickin’ Dangerous Bro’s Humble starring Pax Assadi, James Roque and Jamaine Ross, has left the stage slick with talent as the trio receive our deserved whoops, hollers and applause.
I admit, I went to this show tonight on the recommendation of someone else as I was not familiar with Frickin’ Dangerous Bro, being the network TV Grinch that I am. I had no idea that it was a comedy sketch show! (I know, I know, I could have at least read the show blurb, but that would have ruined my surprise.) I am quite partial to comedy sketch shows and this one mixed my love of social commentary with continuous, raucous laughter.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.