3 Steps Back, written and performed by Emma Katene (Ngāti Kahungunu) and directed by Kate Anderson, is a sharp and generous solo that attempts to map Katene’s experience with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) since her formal diagnosis in 2020. At once performance poetry, physical theatre and vocal show, Katene invites us to ‘sit back and perhaps even eat some snacks, while [she] sings and dances her way through the feeling of two dimensions colliding. Watch out though, you might even see some of your own pathways reflected.’
Where the Water Lies by Continuum. Theatre Company is a meditation on time and place and the compulsory nature of ‘chance’. Writer and performer James Ladanyi says that this show has been in the works for almost three years, and the crux of the show is really in its own making – the creative process, just like life, requires the right ideas and conditions at the right times. This is the kind of show that has you musing over the sum of moments that has brought you to the room, and to tell you the truth: it has my heart from those first two familiar notes of ‘Babys’ by Bon Iver.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Little Dog Barking Theatre Company’s show Party Pigs! is originally adapted for the stage by the late Peter Wilson from the nursery rhyme "This Little Piggy Went To Market." This iteration of the show is given new life by Wilson’s long-time friend Kenny King as performer, Jacqueline Coats as director, original design by Tish Oldham, and puppets by Sharon Johnson. Party Pigs! is a delightful puppetry story set around the excitement and anticipation of a child’s birthday party - piggy style!
The Magnificent Weirdos’ Tea with Terrorists, written and performed by Sameena Zehra and directed by Sabrina Martin, is a masterful solo show where comedic storytelling combines seamlessly with warmth and intimacy making every minute count. The triumph of this show is Zehra’s unapologetic approach to every retelling of her often dark, sometimes salacious (and always funny!) tales of her life in and across Kabul, Kashmir, and the UK. The skilled nuances to Zehra’s honesty demand she is listened to in the way that never feels, just that– demanding, it’s not just honesty– it’s an unaffected conviction in her ability to hold a room.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
SquareSums&Co’s show Bunny, written, directed and performed by Barnie Duncan and produced by Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee is a love letter to clubbing and an exploration of dealing with grief. Made in the weeks following the death of his mother, Robyn, Duncan brings this iteration of Bunny to BATS with a year of development under its belt, having been made for the 2021 Comedy Fest.
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.
Years ago, Andi Snelling was bitten by a tick while on holiday in New Zealand. The resulting Lyme Disease left her unable to perform, unable to do much except fight to stay alive. Happy Go Wrong is the show she never thought she would be able to make. That description makes the show sound rather tragic, but Snelling presents us with a moving take on suffering - That it’s not until you are close to death that you truly know how much you want to live. The result is a celebration of life that is profoundly moving, joyful and life affirming.
Lift Off is a showcase of young talent presented by Te Auaha for the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2020. It promises “tomorrow’s taste-makers live and firing on all cylinders” and it absolutely delivers. The showcase is a triple-bill of emerging artists demonstrating talent across all disciplines of performance. There’s song, dance, music, monologue, drama, comedy and even multiple languages spoken on stage. It’s an artistic smorgasboard which guarantees something for everyone and that’s what Fringe is all about!
Claire Waldron is the sole performer (the only stupid b*tch?) in this Six Degrees Festival show, a suite of productions by Victoria University’s Master of Fine Arts – Theatre programme.
Ellen Morgan Butler
I’ll be honest. I’ve never really been a fan of minimalist or abstract art. Sure, there’s the odd so and so that I think “hm, pretty,” but mostly it goes over my head. When I walked into the stark white of the Toi Pōneke Gallery to view Gary Peters’s colourful exhibition New Old Forms, however, I think maybe something clicked.
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.
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.
Waste Not Want Not: Bethany’s Guide to the Thrift Life, Bethany Grace Miller’s debut solo show, is a piece of comedy that thrives off a thrifty Wellington audience. It is witty, imaginative, and strangely close to home.
Blonde Mountain Wolf Man, a piece of solo physical theatre by Craig Geenty, is an exploration of family history with strong emphasis on name, place, and identity. In an hour, the audience is taken on a journey that is both lighthearted and oddly intimate.
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.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.