REVIEW: The James Plays (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 9, 2016
[Scotland plays no games] I have no interest in slaughtering the sacred cow that is the Bard as seen in The James Plays’ marketing and publicity quotes (“Better than Shakespeare” says the review quote on the poster). This is not for concern of offending Shakespearean purists, but due only to the inequitable comparison of three plays and a life’s works. […]

SCENE BY JAMES (and Matt): The James Plays Podcast

March 7, 2016
[Two Critics with the Egos of Three Kings] Critics Matt Baker and James Wenley went to the National Theatre of Scotland’s The James Plays over the weekend and podcasted their experience. Catch their conversation during the breaks of their nine hour theatre marathon. They saw James I on the Saturday night, and James II and III the next day. Find out the immediate reactions from the […]

REVIEW: Tar Baby (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 5, 2016
[Invisible Woman] What does it mean to be the other? To be otherised is to be made invisible. To not only be unseen, but also to only be seen for what people think you are. You exist, simply, as blackness or a vessel. A void to be filled with contradictory stereotypes and assumptions. To be pigeonholed, tokenised or, worse, erased. […]

REVIEW: Marama (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 4, 2016
[In Praise of Shadows] In his famous essay on aesthetics, In Praise of Shadows, Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki questions the traditional Western ideal of preferring the beauty of light over darkness, stating that the former can’t exist without the latter: “The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to […]

REVIEW: Not in Our Neighbourhood (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 3, 2016
[Brave Faces]  How do you approach an important subject such as domestic violence in a theatrically engaging manner without exploiting it? The most obvious thing would be to present it as truthfully as possible. But there’s a tendency for storytellers to take on causes that aren’t their own and attempt to suggest they know better. For the privileged to impose […]

REVIEW: The Book of Everything (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 16, 2015
Missing Pages [by Matt Baker] When the book that inspires a play has been called a modern classic, when the play itself has been self-attributed with “…beautiful, magical, surprising, touching, terrifying, joyous, inspiring, funny, and ultimately uplifting…”, and when the premiere was critically acclaimed as a “hilarious, honest, and beautifully rendered play”, there is a lot to which any other production must […]

REVIEW: The Kitchen (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 15, 2015
Humdrum [by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth] An intriguing premise for tonight’s show – 12 drummers in a pyramid, a kitchen and a couple cooking the delicious Indian rice pudding that is payasam. Having seen The Manganiyar Seduction at the 2011 Festival we felt The Kitchen had the potential to be a little gimmicky, a re-packaging of their previously successful […]

REVIEW: Macbeth (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 12, 2015
Viva Verdi? [by Matt Baker] Playwright, designer, and director Brett Bailey has made a career in avant-garde theatre, and while I have a desire to engage with more of his productions, it is based more on reading about his other works rather than witnessing his adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth. The concept of Congolese refugees recreating Verdi’s production based on the coming […]

REVIEW: Hikoi (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 6, 2015
Mōrihariha [by Sharu Delilkan] Witnessing a theatrical premiere is indeed a privilege but when it’s local with historical ties, such as Hīkoi, and it’s a world premiere makes for an even more momentous occasion. Writer Nancy Brunning’s cleverly crafted words come alive as soon as the show begins. Her ability to reel in the crowd with her sharp-witted dialogue and […]

Auckland Festival Dispatch: The Festival of Us

April 8, 2013
Auckland: City of Culture? [by James Wenley] I led something of a charmed existence during the 19 days of the Auckland Arts Festival. By night, I could enrich my mind and surrender my senses to the stunning array of local and international shows on offer. By day, I was En Route, working on a show that sent audience members off, […]
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