The ABBA-inspired jukebox musical Mamma Mia! needs no introduction, but provides a worthy and joyous platform to introduce Whitireia’s Musical Theatre students to Wellington audiences. This is the programme’s full-scale production for the year, and with the support of program staff and industry pros, these emerging performers knock it out of the freaking park and gift me a contender for the most fun I’ve had at a show this year!
Moonroe’s Happy Hour is a variety show featuring song, circus and a touch of burlesque created and performed by Laura Oakley and Jackson Cordery. Variety is the name of the game with this show, with some acts proving to be genuinely astonishing while some were found lacking.
Who do we actually make theatre for? Whenever I put on a show I wilfully delude myself about my audience. I imagine hordes of strangers coming in blind and walking out as deeply emotionally affected converts. In reality, 90% of my audience will be one degree of separation away from me or my cast. That’s local theatre, baby. Ultimately we make it for our loved ones, which while ego-bursting, is somewhat beautiful. It’s all one big school play.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
COLOSSAL’s show Dream Garden produced by Eleanor Strathern is a non-verbal aerial circus show exploring the dream world through movement, physical comedy, and gentle audience interaction. Performed and choreographed by aerial circus artists Imogen Stone and Jackson Cordery with tech by Zane Jarvie, Dream Garden provides something beautiful for everybody. Enticing in its craft, relaxed in its confident exploration of dreams, this truly is circus for the soul.
GAG REFLEX is a (more or less) one woman show, created by Rachel Atlas, and directed by Sabrina Martin. GAG REFLEX takes us through Atlas’s experiences as a performer, a sex worker, and a survivor, in a world that often feels like it is not built for women like her. This is Atlas’ first venture onto the stage as an actor, and I must say, what a strong entrance!
As we enter Te Auaha's Tapere Iti, we become aware of a low rumble and cracking sounds. There is a white screen on which is projected black and white grainy film of snow and ice and several pieces of white draped furniture adorn the stage. Into this sparse world bursts 15-year-old Rory (played with consummate skill by Laniet Swann). This is her play and for the next 85 minutes she takes us on a huge emotional and physical journey.
Glass Town is a new offering from Knot Theatre. They’re coming in hot off the back of Bruises (Winner – Grand Design Award, NZ Fringe 2021) and a nomination for most promising emerging company at last year’s Fringe, and I am so excited to see what they will serve up, 12 months on. They say the second album is the hardest, and I’m afraid it may well be true for this production.
Wellington Footlights’ production of Soho Cinders is colourful and comical, and it’s great to see a show with such a big cast at times like these. According to the programme, the show was postponed from November last year due to COVID-19, after their rehearsal period was interrupted by lockdown. It’s a shame that the show has to go ahead at reduced capacity due to the recent move into the Red setting, but the performers don’t seem all that fazed and bring plenty of joy and energy to the stage despite the bare seating block.
That’s All She Wrote is Red Scare Theatre Company’s latest spellbinder. In a move that shouldn’t be revolutionary but is, this show puts the work of female and non-binary musical theatre writers in the spotlight. Red Scare promises cabaret but delivers a robust experience that doesn’t skimp on any of the theatrical elements at its disposal, while still preserving that stripped-back feeling that gives the music space to be heard.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ever wondered how 50 Shades of Grey would go down if Anna was a pragmatic Gisborne born lass, what it would be like to live in a world where Sex Bots join the union, and if you tend to enjoy a healthy serving of interpretive dance, then Declarations of Love (And Other Useless Things) will be right up your alley. Written by Emma Maguire and co-directed by Anastasia Matteini-Roberts and El Yule, Declarations of Love (And Other Useless Things) plays with concepts of love, lust, sexual expression and gender in an eclectic menagerie of scenes.
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!
Poe’d is an improvised play paying homage to gothic horror and it’s most well-remembered foreparent Edgar Allan Poe. The Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT) tackle a challenging form with gusto and courage and create a night of interesting theatre made up on the spot.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.