And we’re back with another NZIF instalment. Impulse Theatre graced the Random Stage on Thursday evening (and will until Saturday 12 October) with their touring show Off Book: The Musical, which is exactly what it sounds like: an improvised musical. For this season, however, the cast of six is joined by Wellington’s very own Bethany Miller, who adds a dose of cheery optimism to the mix.
New Zealand Improv Fest officially opened on Wednesday night, spearheaded by Here’s a Thing: NZIF Kickoff, MC’d by Jennifer O’Sullivan. This show was jam-packed with the kind of audience anticipation that any kickoff performance should hope to earn. It felt like I was back in high school, attending my first ever theatre fest.
Theatre company, Rollicking Entertainment’s latest offering to Circa Theatre is a deep dive into the world of hauntings and superstition. Inspired by performers Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman’s discovery (while on their honeymoon) of the many ghost stories which ruminate through the lands and minds of Central Otago, The Dunstan Creek Haunting is both a joyful adventure and spooky as heck.
Part storytelling, part stand-up, Dancing on my Own is a jovial jive through the trials and tribulations of growing up queer and with ADD while being born for the stage. Maddy Warren, a master of physical comedy, comes into her own with the awkward punch line. Unfortunately, a lack of preparation lets her down and a sixty-minute show feels like a drawn out half hour.
Having both received a Highly Commended in Playwrights b4 25 2018 and won the teenage category of Plays for the Young in 2017, Courtney Rose Brown’s Running Late has a bit of a reputation to uphold. On top of its accolades, any show with a completely sold out season creates a buzz of its own, so I was excited to say the least. To add to the opening night hype, audience members were offered the Beth Taylor touch™ of branded Running Late sugar cookies. They tasted great—if you were wondering.
Me ’n’ Ma is a wholesome and delightful addition to this year’s Comedy Festival. We are welcomed into the space by a beaming Hamish Parkinson who offers popcorn and lemonade on the way to our seats. He greets every audience member with warmth and gratitude, setting the tone for the heart-warming 55 minutes ahead.
Once There was a Woman is a poignant plunge into grief that hurtles between airborne imaginative sequences and the stark reality of losing a loved one. This slickly performed solo show from writer/performer Beth Kayes, chronicles the loss of her mother, from the shock of diagnosis to the agony of the final goodbye. Whilst some of the choices don’t quite reach their peak, Kayes is a masterful storyteller who brings warmth, humour and delicacy to this all too familiar experience.
Dolphins are fun, friendly, and full of energy, and Thinking Dolphins at BATS was also all of these things. As I walk up to the Heyday Dome, the doors are closed and I panic that the show has already begun! Thankfully, this was only to keep the mysterious stage smoke within the theatre. As soon as I stepped into the space, the actors greeted me and spoke enthusiastically to the audience. Their energy juxtaposed the ominous smoke and the moody blue and green lighting palette.
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 Attitudes: Refusing Performance at BATS Theatre is an examination of whiteness, an art piece that opens a long overdue conversation and asks for pākehā to look within and start the change we want to see in the world.
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