The show gets off to a vibrant start. Circa one is decked out in its most kitschy, retro best. It feels comfortable, and undeniably fabulous. We are essentially inside a living room, and the homey vibe brings together performers ranging from fresh millennials to grand dames in their eighties. Live piano tunes courtesy of Rose Beauchamp welcomes us into the theatre, like we are about to start a large dinner party. A giant, shockingly elegant hen portrait that dominates the stage. And the only thing that comes close to matching it is the small poodle running amok (her name is Honey, and she is one part of the stage managing duo along with Jocelyn O’Kane). I’d normally advise against letting a dog loose among the chickens, but thankfully Honey maintains her impeccable professionalism.
The night is a comedic line up, consisting of regular faces as well as featuring nightly guest performers. The colourful Agnew holds the fort together. As M.C., Agnew’s natural charisma and ease makes her constant chicken-related puns titteringly enjoyable. I’m immediately wowed by her costume - an apron bedecked in an array of feathers, embroidery and sequins. It’s a level of glam I wasn’t anticipating,and makes me question why on earth we are not wearing bedazzled chickens on all of our clothing.
The acts themselves are as varied as the women performing them:With stand-up, sketches, storytelling, operatic sing-a-longs and a hell of a lot in between. Hen’s Teeth’s broad scope works in it favour; What could easily fall into a familiar and boring format instead maintains a pleasant air of mystery. The introduction for acts is minimal, and I enjoy not quite being able to pin down what each woman brings to the table. There are a few stand out surprises. I definitely didn’t see the skit about microwave ovens and condoms coming. I was equally surprised, though a degree more heart-warmed, by a sincere storytelling segment on teen motherhood.
The content itself isn’t exclusively feminist or pushing an agenda. Rather, it’s about the female voice and it’s right to demand space to talk about anything under the sun. The website for Hens’ Teeth claims their success “has been attributed to the comedy being about things that are part of the fabric of most women’s lives” - which is true. What makes up the fabric is unique for every women, creating content that is as varied as the comedians themselves. I feel enheartened as a female audience member, watching so many hilarious and talented women own the stage for two hours. And as for female comedians being as rare as hen’s teeth? This company provides two weeks worth of shows that burst at the seams with ‘em.
Catch Hens’ Teeth:
14 - 25 March
Tues - Thurs 6.30pm
Fri - Sat 8pm
$25 - $46
Book online at http://www.circa.co.nz/package/hens-teeth/