Pink, Wet, Complicated [by Rosabel Tan]
When I tell a guy at work I’m going to The Sex Show, he laughs. “You’re not,” he says. He pauses. “You are.”
“I am.” He looks disappointed and mildly confused. “Do you want to come?”
“Not really,” he screws up his nose. “Maybe.”
It’s an interesting reaction and there are plenty more to come, because as it turns out, the type of people who attend a show offering “a snapshot of New Zealand’s sexual psyche” on a Friday night are couples, some young, many middle-aged, a few families and a scattering of older-looking men.
Devised by The Outfit Theatre Company and first staged last year, The Sex Show comprises of a series of vignettes depicting various sexual experiences: you have twenty-something couples experimenting with cyber-sex, bar-toilet sex, stick-everything-up-everywhere sex; young girls grinding frantically on the dancefloor; younger girls grinding frantically on their soft toys; sexually starved housewives and their Family Party politician husbands; couples avoiding temptation, or not; despicable men; and a chirpy band of sexual creatures taken straight from the set of a children’s show that’s gone horribly wrong – but with characters like Fellatio Fox (Ema Barton), Sex Panda (Brad Johnson), Cunnilingus Cat (Tarquinn Kennedy) and the Clitoracle (Heidi Kauta), you know you’re in good hands.
Politically Aware and Intelligent Humour, now with Bonus FlyBuy Points! [by Rosabel Tan]
These are tough times. There’s the global financial crisis. Climate change. John Key. And Richard Meros, once a leading academic specialising in Helen Clark’s specific niche – can no longer earn a living. And so he turns to the world for a solution, and finds it in that lone figure staring across the plains: the Southern Man.
As with On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover, Meros, played by Arthur Meek, uses a gorgeously rendered PowerPoint presentation to convince us of his thesis in inspired and imaginative ways. Drawing on visual jokes, live-action shadow puppetry and a short-lived bout of pyrotechnics, Meros explains in bullet-point form his search for the Southern Man, the figure he believes will be our modern-day hero.
An astounding Journey into the unknown [by James Wenley]
The Civic Main stage is dark, waiting for its first performance of the year. But the building is alive. The show is Bathing with Elephants and other exotic reveries, with much for the inteprid audience member to encounter.
Bathing with Elephants is a collaboration between Vitamin S, Co-Lab and STAMP at THE EDGE. Going in, I could rely only on the beguiling press material describing it as a “cross-bred exotic performance... mixing genre and technology like a kitchen-whizz in a Bombay spice shop”. The project moves through the smaller spaces within the Civic complex – like the Taj Mahal, Safari, and Wintergarden rooms – using the spaces as inspiration for a series of constantly surprising work that belies easy categorisation. We’re taken on a wholly unique, and bizarre, tour of the Civic.
These shows won't last, buy your ticket today! [by James Wenley]
Turns out Xmas is a lot like the Rugby World Cup, whether you’re into it or not, you simply can’t avoid it – its everywhere. Xmas trees and tinsels have sprouted up everywhere. All I want for Christmas is you is on repeat. A GIANT Xmas Tree bauble has landed in Aotea Square, narrowly missing the Occupy Auckland protestors.
And now even our theatres aren’t safe. A recent tradition in Auckland has been the annual Xmas show at The Basement (The Reindeer Monologues, Christ Almighty!, Toys), where a conveyer belt of different ‘weren’t-you-on-the-tele-once’ actors perform each night.
While there’s no end-of-year Basement show this time round, others have arrived with sleigh bells on to take its place.
This week, two alliterated xmas shows have been going antler to antler. At the Herald Theatre is Outfit Theatre Company’s wicked farce A Criminal Christmas, and Upstairs at the Basement is Thomas Sainsbury’s series of Xmas shorts, A Krazy Kristmas.
A CRIMINAL CHRISTMAS
Outfit Theatre Company have topped off a cracker of a year (which included The Sex Show, Boys' Life and Love After Dark) with A Criminal Christmas, in partnership with STAMP at The EDGE. While The EDGE affords the company with the Herald Theatre and their best production values so far, what wins the season is the edgy and reckless ensemble feel that makes their work unique.
Rita and Douglas and Jennifer [by James Wenley]
Jennifer Ward-Lealand says playing Rita Angus is one of the most challenging roles she has ever performed in her career.
“I’ve never done anything like this before”.
It’s a surprising statement from Jennifer, whom over her long career in the performing arts has played roles as diverse as Boadicea in Xena: Warrior Princess to Marlene Dietrich in cabaret Falling in Love again, and has a huge list of theatre credits to her name.
But in the play Rita and Douglas, Jennifer has found a role to test her. Using the real letters from New Zealand artist Rita Angus to her friend and one-time lover, composer Douglas Lilburn, Jennifer has to bring to life the iconic painter, which she compares to “doing a one woman monologue for 80 minutes.” So, the biggest challenge of her career? “Almost the most, almost”.
1,000 Reasons to see 1,000 Hills
[by Sharu Delilkan]
It is always a privilege and an honour to witness the premier of an original piece of theatre. But to be among the first to experience the personal sharing of a true story is even more significant. Naturally the foyer of the Herald Theatre was buzzing with eager anticipation when I arrived.
However given the subject matter I must admit I had the sinking feeling, in the back of my mind, that the work may be morbid, depressing and shocking in the spirit of the film Hotel Rwanda.
But those apprehensions were very soon cast aside as we were greeted by the pulsating sound of African drums when we entered the theatre. The music literally reverberated through our bodies and set the ambience for the evening. As others made their way to their seats I looked around me and noticed a number of regular theatregoers, who would ordinarily appear rather formal in their seats, moving to hypnotic beat of the drums. There was no denying the infectious music, both lively and joyous, had a definite impact on the audience – and was a sign of what was ahead.
Q’s Loft loses its virginity [by Sharu Delilkan]
Everyone is familiar with the Roman goddess Venus, that’s often associated with love, beauty and fertility.
So naturally I was bracing myself for an evening brimming with decadence, desire and debauchery.
And coupled with the excitement of Q’s new studio space The Loft’s first show Venus Is..., the evening promised a spicy piece of history in its making.
I was surprised by the nervous anticipation I felt when I arrived. “What could we expect?” I wondered, from the nationally renowned aerial theatre company The Dust Palace’s latest show Venus Is... But I soon realised I was not alone. The palpable excitement in the air, as everyone gathered in the lobby space outside The Loft, was akin to one witnessing an historic event.
Venus Is..., as billed, is a lecherous, steamy, athletic, naughty, poignant landscape of sex, lust, sadness, literature and song.
Are you faux real? [by Sharu Delilkan]
When I arrived at the Herald Theatre I was a little disappointed with the small number of people in the foyer.
“I’m early I told myself”. But unfortunately that didn’t change as we filed into the venue to take our seats.
I actually counted 35 people in total, including me and my husband, which made for a very intimate audience.
All I could think was “Hope this isn’t too demoralising for Gareth Williams.”
But from the minute he appeared on stage, the consummate performer gave us his all.
Williams’ madness and craziness was totally on display tonight.
This one-man song, dance and physical theatre spectacular is the result of Williams joining forces with Christ Almighty writer Dan Musgrove.
The question you find yourself asking and answering in one breath is: “What if you were trapped inside your own head…with John Farnham?”
When Mike met Virginia [by Sharu Delilkan]
Everyone knows When Harry Met Sally so when the show opens using the movie as an example of a romantic comedy (or a romcom) it sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come.
Mike & Virginia is written by veteran screenwriters Kathryn Burnett & Nick Ward, who are making their debut into the world of theatre.
Memorable lines include ‘I’m as dry as a vulture’s arsehole’ and ‘being a best friend is about accepting her lumps and all’.
Mike and Virginia want to fall in love and they are supposed to at the end but in my mind they never quite get there - it’s difficult to appreciate what lovably laid-back Mike (Will Hall) sees in constantly uptight Virginia (Lisa Chappell), who rarely seems to soften or let her guard down.
The show has all the elements – great script, amazing backdrop scenery but the diluted chemistry between the lead characters left me needing more.
Back on the radar [by Sharu Delilkan]
Most people know Te Radar as an award winning satirist, documentary maker, writer, failed gardener, and amateur historian.
And more recently he’s been in our living rooms starring in TVNZ’s Radar’s Patch, Off the Radar, and Homegrown.
But you’d be forgiven if you didn’t think of him as a stage director, especially since he’s been off the theatre radar for a good seven years. The revered Kiwi comedian’s last live theatre gig was directing Those Indian Guys in Indian Invaders at the 2004 International Comedy Festival.
Radar admits he knew he had to direct Mike & Virgina as soon as he saw the read through at Auckland Theatre Company’s Read Raw series.
Mike & Virginia is a unabashed romp of a play about love and who you think you shouldn’t fall in love with, that subverts every romcom convention in the book to create a bitingly funny and surprisingly tender Kiwi love story.