Courtney Rose Brown
The New Zealand premiere of Orphans, written by Lyle Kessler, opened at BATS Theatre last night and my only concern for the production is that the season is so short! Orphans follows the journey of two brothers who meet a father figure (by unconventional means) and their discoveries of self and each other. Generally when American scripts are chosen, I question why a new New Zealand piece of theatre hasn’t been chosen to be presented. However, this is not the case with Orphans as the team behind it have delivered a beautifully executed and engaging show.
The Menagerie is a monthly variety show produced by Rachel Rouge. The August show was a mix of circus, burlesque, magic, comedy, music and poetry all tied together by the MC Mr Wizowski.
The performers were equally balanced between emerging artists and established performers. Each of them obviously being chosen for their talent and stage presence, both of which was notably high across the board even if there were occasional doses of nerves.
Courtney Rose Brown
After missing the Everybody Cool Lives Here company’s award winning season of Wake Up Tomorrow in Fringe 2015, I jumped at the opportunity to see them back in action, this time presenting the devised show No Post on Sunday. Directed by Isobel MacKinnon, No Post on Sunday is a welcome addition to the company’s glowing reputation.
No Post on Sunday is a story of community and of friendship, performed brilliantly by the charismatic cast. The story follows the lives of local postmen/best friends Harry (Jacob Dombroski) and David Stanley (Duncan Armstrong) as they organise and deliver mail, running into obstacles along the way. Armstrong and Dombroski have perfect chemistry and easily strike a loving friendship.
Coriander’s Yoga(ish) Show, written and performed by Jess Brien, begins with Coriander (Randi for short) sitting cross-legged on the stage, eagerly greeting us in a voice filled with bubbles and delight. Pop music accompanies her and it is very clear that this show will not be anything like a traditional yoga experience, albeit having the general structure of one: meditation, poses and finally relaxation. Coriander talks to the audience as we filter in and gets everyone onside before the official start, people were laughing and the jovial atmosphere she creates is infectious.
Richard II is a Shakespeare play that many, including myself, may be unfamiliar with. Even without a formal knowledge of its background, Sceptre Theatre’s rendition of Richard II is an incredibly enjoyable and interesting performance. Directed by James Cain, this iteration focuses on a dialogic approach with music and lighting used sparingly all working to the play’s best advantage.
Mental Illness. Those words conjure images of black holes and dark thoughts. Well attempts to shed some light on a subject that is deep and personal to many people. A devised theatre piece made from the interviews of over 30 volunteers that speaks to the fears of those with mental illness and the misconceptions of those without.
Dell Mitchell & Laura Ferguson
Enigma is a one-man comedy show starring (in his own words) the world's greatest pickup artist. Performed by Alexander Sparrow, Enigma is an incredibly well developed and believable character, so much so that others at my table spent a reasonable amount of time trying to place his American accent.
MOM - Meet Our Mum is performed and devised by the Third Year students of Applied Arts at Whitireia and it is a challenging and thought-provoking performance. It covers a plethora of main issues we have in our world today, using interesting and unique ways to discuss them.
In Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Christopher Durang transplants Chekhov to rural Pennsylvania. After winning a number of awards in the United States, Circa has brought Vanya to New Zealand for the first time, giving an excellent cast the opportunity to explore Durang’s satirical interpretation of Chekhov as applied to New England.
Presented by Best on Tap
Reviewed by George Fenn
Upon entering the Fringe Bar you are given a mixtape kit consisting of a cassette case, a customisable cover and a list of songs to choose from. Selecting tracks from a list feels reminiscent of the last time I was at Fringe Bar so I felt right at home.
After composing a song list they are collected from the audience and one is drawn at random to be the inspiration for the evening's show. I had missed the first version of Mixtape was staged at the New Zealand Improv festival, so was excited to get another opportunity to see it.
Mixtape is long-form improv, meaning you will see one epic story. Opening night's audience got to see When Sam Met Amy, a romantic comedy following ten years in the lives of two destined lovers from awkward high school dances to awkward high school reunions. The Rom Com genre was quickly established as the cast (Geoff Simmons, Mary Little, Kate Wilson, Barry Mcskimmon, Adam Williamson) weaved through iconic scenarios; The sex talk with dad, the drunk bestie phone calls, the nerd getting advice from his jock mate. The scope of the story goes international as Amy, an unsatisfied chemist, goes on her OE. Meanwhile Sam copes with coming of age in Wellington.
It is here where the complexity of worldbuilding in long-form becomes joyfully difficult. Details such as character names become confused and voices come and go. Inconsistencies are deftly justified by the cast, often jumping in from offstage to help out. Each misstep is supported and each save wins over the audience,showing skillful listening from the performers. When Amy is called Marie by a French Casanova we have a brief flashback to her BFF discussing changing her name in each country she travels to. These ludicrous moments provide an elasticity to the story, but also a structure as the story takes on episodes of different lovers in different countries as a different person.
The storytelling is most engaging at its boldest. The story wraps up with what may be the boldest risk I have ever witnessed in a final scene. “Now we tell them it's all a ruse,” from the groom to the bride at a wedding. After reaching the edge of my seat I was thrown backwards as the voice of an Elvis Vegas Celebrant comes from the DJ.
The format is a solid and fun idea, however I feel the hinges are a bit tight, and it took me a while to feel like I knew the performers. This seemed symptomatic of the space rather than the performers or format. The Fringe Bar stage is narrow, deep and short so voices often got lost in the flurry of bar sounds. Alternatively, the players could utilise the space in front of the stage to be closer to the audience. I would have also enjoyed meeting the performers in order to get know them so I could invest more in their risks.
Best on Taps improvisation skills are evident, demonstrating excellent support and delivering quirky laughs. Combined with the fun concept- the rest of their season provides a rare, affordable and tasty opportunity to see some solid long-form improv in Wellington. The Mixtape of Wednesday night’s performance is provided below.
3rd - 8th of August, Fringe Bar.
7PM start. Hour runtime.
Tickets are $10 / $8
Title: When Amy met Sam
1 - Complicated
2 - Aint no Sunshine when She's gone
3 - Hey Ya!
4 - Superfreak
5 - More than a Woman
6 - The Reason
7 - I Can't help Myself
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.