Image Description: A planner open with the phrase "THE ADULTS ARE TALKING" written and encircled. Beside it are a half-eaten banana, scrunched-up piece of paper, and a refill pad with the phrase "ON TODAY'S AGENDA: 12/05/02" written across it. A dirty coffee mug has had its contents spilled over the refill. An unironed white sheet is visible underneath these objects.
Nestled within BATS Theatre’ Studio is the intimate production of Squash Co. Productions’ The Adults are Talking, where the audience takes on roles as COMM121 students at Victoria University of Wellington in 2002. The tutor (Dennis Eir Lim) briefs us on our ‘assignment’ and we enter, sitting at a round table (courtesy of Ben Purdie, the scenographer, and Jack McGee, co-scenographer). What follows is a 40-minute political farce between a rather fractured Students Association; president Sasha Curtis (Phoebe Caldeiro) is desperately trying to manage her position, her safety, and arguably her sanity, while her male collaborators (if you could call them that) seem thoroughly uninteresting in anything that isn’t partying disguised as ‘student wellbeing’. She has the support of Amy Mills (Anna Barker), who, in contrast to Sasha, makes her disgust and disappointment in the rest of the team very bluntly known.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Ghostlight Productions show Presenting… The Tiwhas! is an explosive introduction to Jthan Morgan (Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Magiagi, Sapapāli’l, Lotofaga), Slay West (Tainui) and Raureti Ormond (Ngāti Tuwharetoa) and their jaw-dropping, stage-owning, face-melting, wig-snatching drag; this takatāpui trio give some of the best energy I’ve ever seen given in a show at Circa.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Wellington Repertory Theatre’s show Rope, written by Patrick Hamilton in 1929 and directed by Helen Cashin and Paul Stone, is no classic whodunnit, because we know who did it right from the start. It follows a party unfolding from the perspective of the hosts, two high-key psychopaths and low-key lovers, Wyndham Brandon (Slaine McKenzie) and Charles Granillo (Tom Foy) and the tension of the piece comes from their evasiveness of their guests sleuthing and joking instead of from a hunt for clues.
All hail angry women. They’re the activists, change makers, and history makers. Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly, brought to us by Red Scare Theatre Company, is a solo show with an angry woman. Directed by James Kiesel and performed by Sabrina Martin, this show has a grit and a humour that keeps you entirely entranced for the 100 minutes – no intermission – performance that receives a standing ovation on opening night.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
SquareSums&Co’s show Bunny, written, directed and performed by Barnie Duncan and produced by Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee is a love letter to clubbing and an exploration of dealing with grief. Made in the weeks following the death of his mother, Robyn, Duncan brings this iteration of Bunny to BATS with a year of development under its belt, having been made for the 2021 Comedy Fest.
What I love about dance shows is that (much like a certain cereal’s slogan) you only get out what you put in. This review will be a reflection on my experience – yours may not necessarily be the same. I always come to dance shows with an open mind, ready to be swept away. UNDOING is a new dance theatre work by House of Sand, produced, directed, and choreographed by Eliza Sanders and performed by 11 incredibly talented dancers.
When I think of Aotearoa, our penchant for binge drinking definitely makes the top five. It isn’t surprising, then, that theatre and literature of Aotearoa has a fascination with attempting to critique, inspect, and unpack why this problem is so ingrained in our little slice of the globe. Enter Boys, Wake Up! – a devised theatre piece, co-directed by Jackson Burling and Bella Petrie, brought to us by Brick Haus Productions.
It is a classic narrative: four laddish teenagers – Ezra (Renata Mahuika), Cameron (Caleb Pedro), Bradley (Isacc Andrews), and Jamie (Jackson Burling) – drink to excess at a party, one suggests they’re sober enough to drive, and eventually calamity ensues… It’s all downhill, quite literally, from there.
It’s a rainy Wednesday night. There are only two shows on in Wellington this week, and I’m stoked to be heading to the Gryphon Theatre for one of them. The Spitfire Grill promises to be a nostalgic look at small town America in the 70s, based on the 1996 film of the same name. The production premiered in 2001 off-Broadway and has taken 21 years to make its New Zealand premiere. Tonight is that night and, being a Wellington Repertory opening night, there is free food and drink and a warm buzz that immediately leaves the wind and rain outside.
It’s 2022 and this year’s Fringe has over 20 online offerings, including C-Arts’ programme of international events from around the world. Finding myself in isolation because of you know what, I’m excited to take a digital dive. My first online show of Fringe is DGP Production’s Satan vs God. This production is beamed all the way from Florida, USA, and I regret that I’ll have to teach them the meaning of “yeah…nah”.
GAG REFLEX is a (more or less) one woman show, created by Rachel Atlas, and directed by Sabrina Martin. GAG REFLEX takes us through Atlas’s experiences as a performer, a sex worker, and a survivor, in a world that often feels like it is not built for women like her. This is Atlas’ first venture onto the stage as an actor, and I must say, what a strong entrance!
New Zealand Theatre Live’s MILK OF THE GODS is the show where the audience is given agency through water (and milk) balloons, and it is a welcome sequel to their frenzied 2021 Fringe season of MILK!
Ephemeral Theatre’s RAW! ASMR is a devised solo feminist clown show by Amy Atkins and, according to the programme, is the first of its kind in Aotearoa. Directed by Sara Hirsch and devised by Bethany Miller, Amy Booth, Liz Butler, and Pája Neuhöferov, the show is 45 minutes of whispered chaos, and as an avid ASMR fan, I feel ecstatic that this niche corner of YouTube content has been given some theatrical legs. While evidently a development season, RAW! ASMR is bright, fresh, and Atkins is a skilled entertainer.
Reviewed by Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
The Kallo Collective and A Mulled Whine’s show The King Of Taking is a promising work in development from beloved NZ clown, Thom Monckton. The show is a circus satire of a selfish king receiving gifts from his subjects/us/who cares! The show is already sharp as a tack, even as a demo, with Monckton flexing his international, award-winning clown muscles on home soil.
When Chansons – Songs & Stories from Piaf, Brel, & Me pops up, of course my interest is piqued. I’m French, on my mother’s side, and the show is advertised as a “musical journey through France”. So, I’m interested to see how French this would be, especially as I incorrectly assumed Stefanie Rummel was French – she’s German. And in this review, the real critic is my own very French mother.
Music Sounds Better Out Here from Squash Co Arts Collective (written and performed by Jack McGee; directed by Ben Kelly) is a storytelling marvel. Everything from set to animation to script to performance is spectacular, and it is the best show I have seen in Fringe so far. I don’t write many all-out rave reviews, but, Fringe judges, I hope you’re watching.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.