In Love with Shakespeare [by Sharu Delilkan]
It has been a journey of self-discovery for Xavier Horan, particularly since he has gone from being a ‘Shakespeare-phobe’ to acting in two of his plays within a matter of months.
Horan, who has recently performed at The Globe Theatre London in the ground breaking Maori production of Troilus and Cressida, is extremely excited about his role as Oberon in Auckland Theatre Company's latest production A Midsummer Night's Dream.
He is equally chuffed about being part of the 18-strong stellar cast which includes father daughter duo Stuart Devenie (Egeus) and Laurel Devenie (Helena) as well as Alison Bruce (Titania), Goretti Chadwick (Hippolyta), Peter Daube (Theseus), Andrew Grainger (Bottom), Raymond Hawthorne (Puck), Rima Te Wiata (Peter Quince) and Brooke Williams (Hermia).
A Midsummer Night's Dream features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, and set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon.
Horan admits that the whole Shakespeare experience was very scary at first, due to the fact that he was treading on unfamiliar territory. However he says working closely with veteran thespian Hawthorne has been his saving grace.
Yeti Strikes Back [by James Wenley]
When we last saw Yeti, she had been shot by a jealous Yvette Parsons after the Himalayan visitor had started an affair with Yvette’s husband, Thomas Sainsbury....
That would seem to have been the end of our beloved Yeti. That is, until the sequel. Turns out Yeti isn’t dead, but has been in a coma for months, watched on by a distraught Tom.
For the last few years round comedy festival time I've looked forward to the off-the-wall comedies of Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove (A Song for the Ugly Kids, The Giant Face). Last year’s Dan is Dead / I Am a Yeti, which told the story of aspiring filmmaker Yeti moving in with Tom and Yvette was the team’s funniest.
As I wrote in last year’s review:
This show had the best ratio of belly laughs to length that I can recall. Safe in the fluffy white Yeti suit (which still manages to show off Natalie’s shapely legs), Natalie can get away with ANYTHING. All three performers in fact are refreshingly without shame, and the show contains some rather entertaining gross-out humour and unfortunate seductions - the show likes to push, and revels in the gasps of audience reaction.
There really isn’t any other performer like Natalie Medlock. She is a wholly unique talent: charming, gorgeous, master of the silly voice, and willing to subject herself to all kinds of indignities. And did I mention she is beyond funny? Her Yeti creation is her best yet (topping even her headless character from A Song for the Ugly Kids), with an inherently funny accent, fantastic quirky mannerisms... and a dangerous need to connect to people.
Idiots or Savants? [by Sharu Delilkan]
Entering the Herald Theatre greeted by four slightly dodgy war film characters it was great to see that the British obsession with the World Wars, (2-0), was still alive and kicking.
This of course soon descended into the chaos and confusion that we expect from a show like Idiots for Ants.
Having already been to another show earlier in the evening our funny bones had been tickled so we were ready to be tickled pink. And tickle us pink they did.
For fans of British humour the four guys on stage, Andrew, Benjamin, Elliott and Jimmy, delivered their multi-sketch format aka The Fast Show or ‘Python-esque’ with a baffling variety of ridiculous characters and situations.
The ‘idiots’ had clearly arrived in NZ to have fun which was infectious with as much warm humour and ‘piss-taking’ occurring between the four comedians as directed at the audience.
Wikipedia for the stage [by Rosabel Tan]
At the beginning of Mrs Van Gogh, Johanna Gesina Bonger (Gina Timberlake) introduces herself to the audience. I see my name does not strike a chord, she says. Perhaps you will know me better as Johanna Van Gogh – wife of Theo (Brendan Lovell), sister-in-law to Vincent (John Goudge), and one of the only reasons the latter’s work has survived. Despite this, it’s rare to see her name in print: not only have the paintings outlived her, they have overshadowed her. And so we are taken through the years she spent with the Van Gogh brothers – from her first meeting with Theo through to his death, and finally her efforts to preserve and understand both men.
Written and directed by Geoff Allen, the play is clearly a labour of love – in the programme he describes the influence Van Gogh has had on him, citing his first play, Vincent and Theo, as the basis for the current one. The set is decorated with gorgeous imitation Van Goghs he has painted himself and the score, inspired by the artist, has been composed by the actor playing him. There’s a real sense of the passion underlying the play, but as an audience we feel very little of it.
Bravery the Massive Way [by James Wenley]
I see a lot of theatre, and I enjoy a lot of theatre, but it’s a rare show that’s able to cut through and grab you on a deeply personal level. That show is Massive Company’s The Brave.
Eight men, embodying bravery in body and souls, share their personal stories and experiences of their lives and masculinities.
Q’s stage is bare. Massive old-hand Scott Cotter begins alone on stage, a spotlight slowly building as his voice calls out in karanga. He acknowledges the people who came before us, an important theme – these men often define themselves in relation to others that have inspired and challenged them. One by one, the rest of the cast, ranging in age from 20-31, join him onstage. They walk around the room, taking us and each other in. Some walk solo, some walk together, powerful.
Directed by Massive founder Sam Scott, and Carla Martell and devised by the company, the show’s springboard were letters the cast were asked to write to important people who were in, or out of their lives. These letters – to fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and their own selves, are weaved through the show and form a powerful emotional backbone for the rest of the work to build around.
The pain of everyday [by James Wenley]
Jo’s everyday interactions are characterised by a sort of agony. As played by Kayleigh Haworth, she’s an intriguing study of indecision, awkwardness, tension and a constant internal torment about what to reveal, keep to herself, and behave.
Keziah Warner’s new play Everything She Ever Said to Me, speaks to the painfulness of conversation and the tyranny of the mundane. She’s teamed with Director Benjamin Henson, who arrived in Auckland from Britain around the same time as Warner, and have made a welcome contribution to our theatre scene, with their Scratch New Writing initiative, who they produce this work under.
The marketing material, containing cool stickers on the rules of life - “Get a job.”, “Fall in Love”, “Pay taxes”, “See the world” “Have fun Be happy” - suggests a examination of contemporary societal pressure and twenty-something milieu. The play itself is more oblique, never quite catching a firm idea of what it wants to say about it all. The external pressures on Jo are largely assumed, the play initially revolving around the struggles, decisions and indecisions of her personal existence, than any wider comment.
Perfectly Pitched Pacific Panto [by Sharu Delilkan]
The theatre was electrically charged as we scrambled to find our seats. In fact my mate Liz and I ended up sitting separately because it was so full. Not to mention the fact that they added almost 6 new chairs stage left to accommodate the stragglers. Seeing the theatre packed to the gunnels was a great sight to behold, especially since the show has been running for more than a week.
Looking at the stage it was equally electric painted in a multitude of vivid fluorescent colours, complemented by the chorus’ multi-coloured t-shirts. And when the MC said “sit back and enjoy the show and laugh your bum bums off” you knew you were in for the ride of your life.
Sinarella, yet another feather in the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts’ (PIPA) cap as a joint production with Auckland Theatre Company, follows the sell-out season of Polly Hood in Mumuland.
The good kind of Jersey [by James Wenley]
As I take my seat in the Civic, the Jersey Boy stage looks surprisingly non-descript. It’s a grey and drab industrial looking set, complete with walkways and chain mesh. A pretty ordinary set for an international musical, but then, the origins of the real Jersey blue collar Four Season members were rather ordinary too. Is this to be the stage for the multi-award winning Broadway Smash that has finally wound its way to little young Auckland?
As soon as local boy Vince Harder appears as a modern day French rapper, singing Ces Soirees-La (a hit in France in 2000, we know it better as Oh what a night…), the stage transforms as only mega-budget musicals do, lighting up in brilliant colour and moving all over the place. It’s a spectacle rich experience – microphone stands rise up from the floor, and attractive pop-art graphics on appear screens to accompany the storytelling, but all that is blown away by the blended and distinctive sound of the show’s four leads as The Four Seasons, giving us their all with hit after hit. The most effective moments of the show are the sheer musicality of the foursome as they come right to the edge of the stage, concert style, and perform the tunes. They don’t make songs like these anymore – simple hooks, but packed with emotion, all topped with Frankie Valli’s remarkable falsetto. Or rather, make that Dion Billios’ remarkable falsetto…
No rape, pillage or murder here: Just some good old-fashioned human drama. And some nudity. [by Rosabel Tan]
It’s a stifling afternoon and the palms in St Kevin’s Arcade hang limply in the thick air, but Benjamin Henson appears unaffected by the heat. Hunched over a table scattered with notebooks and scripts and an empty cup of coffee, he doesn’t notice me approaching until I call his name. It strikes me as a fitting way to find this 26-year old director: Everything She Ever Said To Me will be the fifth show he’s been involved with this year.
Written by Keziah Warner, Everything revolves around a call centre worker named Jo. “She has an overbearing mother who’s ringing her all the time and we’re not sure why. She’s got a love interest at work but she’s not very confident at making it happen, and she bonds with a 79-year old man she meets over the phone. You watch this girl and you know she’s trying to work something out, and you know something’s gone on, and it’s gone wrong, but you’re not sure what.”
He describes the play as “quirky and melancholic – there’s a lot of sadness behind it, but there’s a lot of humour as well. And that’s what I really like about it – Keziah has made a piece that is just about people, how they interact with each other, and what it is that they say. There’s no theatrical gimmick. There’s no rape, pillage and murder. It’s a little window into the lives of these characters.”
Burle…. [by Sharu Delilkan]
“Willkommen, Willkommen, have we got a show for you.” So started the Hanussen – The Palace of Burlesque show.
The audience laughed and clapped. “Why?” you might ask. And the reason was they didn’t have a show for us. For once in a burlesque blue moon the show was not going to go on.
What? How? Why? Talking to the cast afterwards we were told that there were problems with rigging the multitude of poles, frames, ropes and kinky burlesque paraphernalia that would have meant the performers could have plummeted to their deaths, if the show did indeed go on. Reiterated by the show’s MC when he said “We can’t afford to pay for your psychiatry bills, if that happens.”
So as the drinks flowed and the hubbub of excited anticipation got louder in Q’s foyer bar the clock started ticking noticeably past the 8 pm start time...