Inquisitive eyes etched on paper in thin, cross-hatched strokes study me as I enter Thistle Hall. A slender ceramic pot with pursed lips judges my sock and shoe combo. Celia Kent’s first solo exhibition Expressive Features: The Nose Knows presents portraiture and pottery. Each piece is unique and screams character. The walls are adorned with her black and white illustrations while the anthropomorphic pots add soft blues, greens and foliage upon their tall plinths.
With I, Will Jones, comedian Eamonn Marra steps beyond stand-up to create a piece of theatre that expertly explores the feeling of desperately wanting to be somebody else. When Eamonn Marra was 12 years old, Will Jones was the coolest kid in his school. Will was great at sports, he had a girlfriend and his name was unmockable - everything Marra wanted. I, Will Jones is Marra’s recount of stories from his adolescence that centre around his desire to be Will Jones instead.
The stories are at once autobiographical and magical and the production introduces us to Marra’s past youth with style and humour. Entering the theatre, we are treated to a messy tweenage bedroom with a clothes-strewn floor, skates and a child-sized desk. Eamonn enters with amusing spectacle on a bicycle, immediately capturing the audience’s allegiance. His over-the-top entrance as a fully grown man dressed in boys’ shorts and a Planet8 hoody, coinciding with ridiculous welcome-to-the-stage flashing coloured lights, sets us up for a show that approaches recollections of juvenile life with a blend of merriment and regret.
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.
Escape From Gloriavale is a gorgeously camp and outlandish character comedy. It follows the story of Providence Gratitude, a naïve young resident of the infamous cult, as she adventures out into a world of colour and temptation in pursuit of fame, fortune and celebrity. The set-up is a recipe for disaster and hilarity, upon which Brynley Stent absolutely delivers.
by Laura Ferguson
Lucy Roche is juxtaposition personified. Every social normality that comes to mind as we see this whimsical elfin figure approach the stage, epitomises our ideas of sweetness and innocence. Roche takes a breath and with a smile, starts her show: “So, hi, I’m Lucy Roche and I’m a sex worker.” Minds. Blown. Someone near me does a double-take, another’s eyes bug out. I laugh since they clearly didn’t read her comedy fest blurb. Roche herself charmingly smirks and pauses while swaying serenely on stage, waiting for that bombshell to sink in. I love it. The preconceived societal norms get thrown out of Ivy Bar, exactly what Roche was aiming for. It is only the beginning of her cleverness and wit.
by Laura Ferguson
“Hey guys, you may not have noticed but…” Savanna Calton starts the show Unstoppable by diving right in, no introductions needed. I’ve always loved this about Calton’s performances. She’s on point, doesn’t need warming up and won’t coddle us with niceties. It’s not really her style, it’s unique and it’s awesome.
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.
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.
Dusty May Taylor
I sat down with Kate McGill and Frith Horan to discuss their tongue-in-cheek, pop-inspired brainchild Album Party, aka The Better Best Possible Album Party That Anybody Has Ever Been Two. Coming to Wellington’s BATS Theatre from 13-17 December, Album Party is launching The Besties Tour, a brand new collaborative venture between BATS Theatre in Welly and The Basement Theatre in Auckland. Winners of the 2015 Auckland Theatre Award for Best Entrance, Wellington natives Kate and Frith (with the help of their lovably demented characters TYLA and DENI$) are more than up to the challenge of spearheading a new initiative.
Walking into the Propeller Stage at BATS theatre, there was four chairs in a line, pop music playing and purple lighting setting up a fun tone for the evening. I didn’t know what to expect, which was a feeling that continued throughout out the show, as there were several magical acts that all had a different style and seemed to really show the diversity of the Wellington Magic Club Inc. It was clear that there were some newcomers and some experienced magicians amongst the lot. This diversity was encouraging as it shows a growing interest in magic and will continue over the remaining nights of the show as there are different acts every night as the Club has 26 members.
James Nokise’s Rukahu began in a more unusual way from any other show I have experienced by starting in the foyer and led us in the style of a traditional powhiri into the Propeller Stage of BATS. After much love and greetings were given to us in Samoan by Nokise’s character, Jon Bon Fasi, we were arranged into a gendered formation and, lifting his phone in the air, he played an untradtional waiata and allowed us entry. His personable nature warmed the audience early on and made us willing participants in whatever this soloist star of Rukahu, had in store. This turned out to be a impromptu and energetic dance from Jon Bon Fasi and caused a dedicated following in the audience members who joined in.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.