Two hours and fifteen minutes. Making my way into BATS, up to my seat at the back of the theatre, the same question keeps coming out of different mouths. Is this play actually two hours and fifteen minutes long?
Inquiet Moments, written and directed by Campbell Wright, is a physical theatre piece that explores anxiety and its impacts on relationships. Caught in a panic attack, Riley (Abby Lyons) is haunted by Wisp (Tom Hughes) and Nightmare (Emily Griffiths), the personifications of her anxiety, as she navigates memories of her relationship with Rowan (Prea Millar). It is a fast-paced and non-consecutive collection of vignettes that seems to draw its inspiration from plays like Constellations by Nick Payne, giving the audience snippets of the story to piece together as they go.
The Aliens by American Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Annie Baker is a poignant piece, and Red Scare Theatre Company handles its themes with sincerity. Over the course of two hours we follow misfits KJ (Jack Sergent-Shadbolt) and Jasper (Jonny Potts) as they take seventeen-year-old Evan (Dryw McArthur) under their wing, and each begin to unravel. In a fitting touch, Red Scare opens the show on Thursday 4 July, which matches up with the show’s holiday setting.
MoodPorn is Wellington’s Before Sunset. Red Scare Theatre Company and director James Cain presents MoodPorn, a new play by Matt Loveranes. Jane (Heather O’Carroll) and Atlas (Ali Foa’i) are two long lost friends who reunite after 13 years when discovering each other on Facebook. Their catch-up turns to cathartic closure as the pair fill in the blanks of the years they’ve been apart. The script is emotionally demanding, rich with film references and surprisingly funny.
Written and performed by Damien Warren-Smith, and directed and cowritten by Cal McCrystal, Garry Starr Performs Everything is riot of a show that will delight theatre-makers and casual audience members alike. Having won awards in the Adelaide, Brighton, and Manchester 2018 Fringe Festivals, and having been nominated for both Best Newcomer and the Golden Gibbo Award in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018, I was intrigued to say the least. Let me break down this must-see of Wellington Fringe Festival 2019.
Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time, quickly followed by Madonna’s Material Girl, welcomes me into BATS Random Stage to see a show about women, sex, and beauty standards. Low Level Panic by Claire McIntyre, directed by Six Degrees Festival’s Harriette Barker, ticks those three boxes, as we watch flatmates Mary (Charlotte Glucina), Jo (Amy Dean), and Celia (Zoë Christall) as their bathroom turns into a place to confide in each other and to the audience.
The Wellington Footlights’ first ever musical theatre festival “Heart and Music” has just kicked off. Night B opens with Flatline with Two Sugars, a premiere of an original musical written by company members Laura Gardner (book and lyrics) and Katie Morton (music).
Flatline with Two Sugars is dark magical realism, a bittersweet mix of tragedy, comedy, and bleak reality. A dreary cafe barista has an unwanted gift in which she visualises the time and means of someone’s death just by touching them. This musical sees Lucie’s desperately confined life turn upside down, and we get to experience the drama, excitement, heartache, and even black comedy pleasures that go along with it.
by Laura Ferguson
The house was full for Wellington Repertory Theatre’s premiere of Nell Gwynn. The air is festive as we sit, orange-sellers of yore hawking their wares, bringing alive that 17th-century spirit. They stay while the play begins in earnest. A young actor flubbing his lines and the orange-sellers heckle him as if they were the crowd. I love this touch, the cheeky calls and the flustered character on stage turning red and more awkward. Nell starts speaking up and her quick-wittedness is apparent from the start. I laugh heartily at the innuendos and sly remarks, Ewen Coleman’s directing allowing for a spectacularly immersive opening.
by Laura Ferguson
As I sit in the corner of Circa Theatre, I notice the ever-building buzz of the crowd. Snippets of conversation filter through: ‘Well, Kinane’s Paua was…’ and ‘Oh, Wolfe directed Waru? It’s going to TIFF, right?’ This crowd is very familiar with the works of the playwright, Emma Kinane, and the director, Katie Wolfe. For me, this is my first time. I am not familiar with their previous work and though looking forward to Anahera, I do feel a slight trepidation. The play has been touted as one to come to if you enjoyed Broadchurch, but really, does one actually enjoy something like Broadchurch? I feel the creeping dread that I will be walking into heartbreak.
Forbidden love, teen angst and mummy-issues are given centre stage in Smoko Company’s new play The Swimmer at BATS Theatre this week. The production gives its audience all the emotional intensity you’d expect from such material. And then some. And then some more after that. Bold and in-your-face, The Swimmer is a refreshing rejection of the naturalist vibes more common of BATS productions. But underneath all the noise, it’s hard to understand or care about what’s happening to the characters.
“Psychological flexibility is the sign of a healthy mind. A friend once told me ‘people have the right to their own stories’. Both of these things seem true, and yet they work against each other.” We May Have To Choose demonstrates, even in its very title, that ideological conflicts don't necessarily live on either side of a fence called truth.
Who are you? Who? by Best on Tap bravely explores this difficult question through an equally brave form. They present audience members’ anonymous self-assessments as a string of improvised scenes and stories, where improvisation stems from truth over comedy. By playing towards “Honest Truths” Best on Tap aim to challenge the preconception that improvisation should primarily be funny. But how truthful can an interpretation be? We write our brief identity blurbs onto cards, place them in a bowl and witness the portrayals of ourselves unfold.
These are a Few of my Favourite Sings is a delightful end of year musical show which brings together theatre goers, music lovers and those who just fancy some familiar songs, sing-alongs, and a healthy dose of Julie Andrews enthusiasm. I am one of many in the audience who grew up with Andrews so the numbers and Georgia Jamieson Emms’ autobiographical recounting of musical family life, brings a wonderful nostalgia.
Director, Adam Goodall, and Making Friends Collective revives Gavin McGibbon’s 2007 play Stand Up Love for one half of the double barrelled production at BATS. The dark comedy features Freddy and Ana: A toxic couple, struggling to find their future together while uncovering each other’s past grievances.
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.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.