REVIEW: Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 7, 2019
[Unleashed] Wild Dogs Under My Skirt speaks volumes to the intersection of fa’asāmoa (traditional Sāmoan) and diasporic upbringing. Having been a NZ-born cis-queer-male of Sāmoan descent, the performance highlights the various women I grew up with and hold dear to my heart. Although Tusiata Avia’s Wild Dogs Under My Skirt collection of poetry was published in 2004, the spoken text […]

REVIEW: Bless the Child (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 10, 2018
[It Couldn’t Happen Here] The work of Tawata Productions is notable for showcasing topical issues. The kōrero of Bless the Child is no different. This dark, albiet vital work reveals the world that we’re part of, where our tamariki are not always protected by their whānau. Written by the acclaimed Māori writer Hone Kouka, Bless the Child shines a spotlight on this […]

SCENE BY JAMES: 2017 – A Theatrical Year in Review

December 29, 2017
[Theatre by the Numbers] 150,000 Aucklanders can’t be wrong, right? These are the approximate combined totals of audiences who flocked to the Pop-up Globe and Pleasuredome: The Musical in 2017. Compare that with the record-breaking 130,000 who went to Adele’s Auckland concerts this year. And that’s not even including the Globe’s jump across the Tasman, where their productions are still […]

REVIEW: The Encounter (Auckland Arts Festival)

March 16, 2017
[Expanding Storytelling] Having the voice of Richard Katz whisper into your right ear is a profoundly intimate encounter you wouldn’t expect from the comfort of your chair situated ten metres from the stage, yet, as Katz demonstrates in his preshow demonstration, technology can take theatre to places we have never experienced before. For one hour and fifty minutes Katz manages […]

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: 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 […]
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