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.
Wendybird is the latest theatrical outing for fast-emerging company Blue Flicker. This year they bring Prea Millar’s debut solo show to fringe – a playful reclaiming of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, from Wendy’s perspective. More than that though, it is an artful reflection on a young woman’s experience growing up in someone else’s story.
Shift Your Paradigm is part pyramid-scheme parody, part conspiracy investigation, full quirky comedy good times. Co-created by David Bowers-Mason and Mitchell Botting, this 65-minute offering - while not perfect - is a delightful addition to this year’s Fringe programme. WARNING: SEVERAL CHAIRS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PRODUCTION.
As we enter Te Auaha's Tapere Iti, we become aware of a low rumble and cracking sounds. There is a white screen on which is projected black and white grainy film of snow and ice and several pieces of white draped furniture adorn the stage. Into this sparse world bursts 15-year-old Rory (played with consummate skill by Laniet Swann). This is her play and for the next 85 minutes she takes us on a huge emotional and physical journey.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Wake Productions’ stand-up show The Scottish Kiwi is helmed by ‘born and fled’ Scottish New Zealander Ryan McGhee with Michael Macauley as the warm-up act. From the winner of Best Newcomer Lower North Island at the NZ Comedy Guild Awards, this show is an up-beat romp across continents as McGhee gives comedic life to his misadventures in Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.
Always funny, sometimes smutty, definitely gay.
Spitz and Crumple is an improvised, smooth-lounge concert created and performed by Ben Jardine and Liz Butler. It’s the best improvised music I’ve ever seen, and the theatrical equivalent of a warm hug from your Aunty Jan. Strap in for a rave review!
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.