If The Best Foods Comedy Gala 2022 is any indication of the year ahead in comedy, we have a lot to look forward to. Having been rescheduled due to Covid, the Comedy Gala kicks off to a sold-out crowd on Friday night who’ve been waiting for this since May. The line up is packed with acts I’ve never seen before, and several who I’m dying to see, and I overhear chatter as we file in about who people are there for. The Michael Fowler Centre is packed as we enter, everyone is fizzing and everywhere you look there’s mayonnaise, what’s not to love?
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability (Australia), Theatre Today (Singapore) and Diverse Abilities Dance Collective’s (Singapore) show SAME-SAME 2.0 is an ensemble devised dance and theatre production that celebrates friendship across multiple borders. The piece is simple and radiates with the joy of its creators, constantly surprising the audience with the personalities of the performers.
Now Face the World by Curvebox theatre company is a devised show about every arts student’s worst nightmare: graduating. Their Fringe description promises ‘an irreverent fever dream of our greatest artistic career hopes and heartbreaks’, and I would say that a ‘fever dream’ is somewhat close to what is delivered.
Sarah Harpur (writer and performer) and Carrie Green’s (director) The Shit Kid describes itself as ‘a one-person play about a mediocre person’. It boasts all the things you’d want to boast about: sexy horses, Mark Todd fever dreams, your brother being a four-time Olympic gold medallist instead of you. This show is light and funny, and it will hit home for anyone who has ever felt exactly adequate.
Frames of the Chaos is a pre-recorded solo retelling of an immigrant rights protest from the perspective of documentary-maker Shinzo. In its blurb in the Fringe programme, the show describes itself as ‘epic poetry of our time’ and touts writer and performer Hideto Ambiguous as an ‘award-winning migrant storyteller’. It sets me up with high expectations, and what is delivered does not come close to meeting them.
Big Foot by Fringe-nominated makers of Should Have Said No, Blue Flicker Productions, explores the space where imagination and denial meet. Siblings Eva (Rebekah de Roo) and Charlie (Daniel Nodder), now adults, go hunting for their presumed-dead childhood friend Big Foot in the Land Beyond the Garden Shed, taking the audience on a tour of the fantasy world, their sibling relationship and their grief.
No! I’m Not Australian! by Ocean Denham is a storytelling stand-up comedy show centred around an OE gone wrong – over and over again. In 45 minutes, we travel across the UK, vicariously living out Denham’s most mortifying moments.
One Way Ticket to Mars, written by Esteban Jaramillo and produced by Deliriously Driven Productions, is a dreamy tour of grief and growing up. The whole show takes place across the span of Leah’s (Abby Lyons) leaving (to Mars) party, giving us only the private moments when characters steal away to her childhood bedroom to process their loss. It is intimate and vulnerable in a way you don’t often get to see.
This is Fine: A Musical, directed by Pauline Ward and James Wenley, is an ambitious piece for Fringe. It is fully devised and weighs in at a whopping two and a half hours in length. Originally, this show was devised a year ago as part of a Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington 300-level theatre paper, but, due to COVID-19 complications, it has only just hit the stage now with an expanded cast and crew.
Courtney Rose Brown
Horny & Confused, Big Estrogen Energy’s debut show is a nuanced comedic triumph. Katie Hill and Charlotte Glucina bring wit, spice and every delight to retellings of their sexual experiences as they charm all with their upbeat Taylor Swift-esq (but woke-er) musical numbers and Hill’s stand up.
Waiting for Shark Week is an hour of feminist buffoonery, sincerity and rage that charms, entertains and educates – and possibly also startles a non-menstruater or two. Directed and co-written by Dr Lori Leigh with performers Stevie Hancox-Monk, Pippa Drakeford-Croad, Maggie White and Sarah Bergbusch, this show is a powerful sketch-based comedy that calls out sexism in the theatre industry, veiled as the preservation of (male) playwrights’ visions.
Blue Flicker Productions offers up an ethical dilemma about pain and the power of knowledge through a feminist lens. Is it better to forget your trauma? Should you tell someone the truth if all it brings is suffering? In Should Have Said No, directed by Zoe Christall, it’s up to the audience to decide.
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.
Transhumance explores gender and what it means to exist between locations. What’s it like to take your best guess at womanhood, or at manhood? How do we get treated by society when we occupy these spaces? And how does this make us feel? This clown show slowly unpacks these concepts, uncoiling in front of the audience, showing us what it might feel like to not quite belong in one, or the other. Ania Upstill takes a train of sorts, between each experience of gender, and endeavours to follow a map of “female” and “male” at each destination. Upstills’ physical struggles to maintain these genders and their larger than life attempts to occupy them provokes both laughter and empathy.
Four dancers step into the void. Light slowly creeps on to the stage. Three of the dancers are masked. Delicate music builds with the light. The masked dancers stalk our protagonist. They latch on to him like ghoulish parasites. He cannot escape.
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At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.