Category Archives: performing arts

NZICF 17 | Guy Williams – Why Am I Like This?

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This year at the NZ International Comedy Festival, Guy Williams managed to impress with a lively (albeit slightly shouty) sell-out show at the Basement Theatre with self-deprecating ease.

The Basement provided a comfortable setting for Williams’ featured show, engaging the audience seamlessly, and keeping the atmosphere buoyant with a spirited performance. ‘Why Am I Like This?’ begins confidently, with him keeping his material relevant and current throughout.

Williams’ undeniable talent for political heckling remains, and we are updated in regards to his recent antics on social media – blessed. He communicates raw comical honestly which is refreshing when compared to the rehearsed-mood sometimes encountered in the current comedy scene. Although some of the show feels a little rehearsed with music cues and whatnot, he handles improv with ease (twice his performance was interrupted by late-comers, which is possibly not a great thing to happen to the late-comer, but can really work to a comedians advantage).

I have to recommend Guy Williams’ show – go and see him while you can readily acquire tickets; His reach and audience appeal continue to grow, as does his obvious comfort on a larger visible public platform. Also he treats us to more texts from his Mum. Thumbs up.

4/5 Stars   Get tickets for his show HERE.

GUY WILLIAMS performs at the Basement Theatre; His last show Sun 7 May as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

Been | Jesse Griffin ‘Centaur’

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Is it a man or is it a horse? Jesus incarnate or just some random vagrant with a penchant for wearing patient gowns, backside exposed and a sense of artistic superiority?

Hold up! That’s just N.Z’s own comedic caper Jessie Griffin with his one-man show ‘Centaur’ and alter-ego Clifton, providing us with persuasive, obscure, out-of-the-box ponderings over performance art and its relation to ourselves, the observer.  Albeit, following a hilariously uninhibited wardrobe change from an adult diaper to the cliché brown corduroy trouser suit, popular with the most articulate highbrow

Suitably coinciding with Auckland’s own ‘Art Week’, Centaur tackles the big issues; child trauma, the sad transience of life, negative space, and the infinite question regarding artistic license, thus highlighted by one such disturbing piece involving sprouting tufts of ginger mane …

Jesse Griffin hits the spot with his sardonic, yet genuinely observant wit. The expressive and artistic platform on which he performed, I found to be fun and uniquely interactive.

Fans of Rod Stewart and marathon runners alike, be sure not to let the artistic talents of Clifton – aka. Jesse Griffin escape you!

Now showing from the 11th October – 15th. Basement Theatre

been | Close City

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The Passion, excitement and unspoken nervous tension of an opening night are heightened in the small crammed studio host to ‘Close City’ – a play produced by Amber Rose Henshall and directed by Egle Simkeviciute Kulvelis.

Written by Marius Ivaskevicius, Close City paints a colourful and provocative tale of marriage most mundane, dominance and submission, all with a decidedly Scandinavian quintessence.

Sheena Irving and Jeff Szusterman play the fragile centrepieces of this play with superb support from Lucy Suttor as the fantastical mermaid, Thomas Sainsbury provides comedy with his character’s quirky swedish anecdotes and bizarre reflective musings, Daniel Watterson plays the dashingly deviant Lars, along with Emma Newborn as the morally corrupt Birgit.

With clever metaphors between glass and the innate fractures of close relationships, parallels pertaining to the distance of cities, (Malmo & Copenhagen) and the journey of discovering another part of oneself previously repressed, albeit far from home, Close City is a story that alongside superb acting, clever and detailed artistic direction that leaves one feeling not quite the same as when they entered.

Thought-provoking and engaging, this is one show of the Basement Theatre’s Spring Season that is a must-see!

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Close City is showing at Basement Theatre 6th-17th September

Been | Leilani

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From first throes, seated in the back row of a dimly lit and intimate theater, we are drawn into the tragycomedy of Leilani (Irasa Siave), a naive but incredibly loveable heroine, who shares her journey from the onset – the consequences of an unrewarding love, to being down on her luck and cast amongst the undesirables of society.

Director Pedro Ilgenfritz introduces the play and it’s players; Aymee Karaitiana, Irasa Siave & Natasha Daniel and their young, yet uniquely impressive Mahukia Theatre Company.

The use of masks to emulate the emotions of it’s characters, together with the sparse and barren settings of the stage, play a very important part in capturing the core soul of the play.  One that deals with such issues relevant to our own urban culture; homelessness, unplanned pregnancy and despair.

Pedro’s direction combined with the subtle use of choreography, sets just the right pace throughout the 70min performance to engage the audience’s attention and keep us invested in it’s characters and their evolution towards the end.  The inclusion of comedic elements as well as the irony of finding love, acceptance and hope from out on the bleak dark streets, bring too, some light relief to an otherwise grim subject.

Language is not merely confined to just words, language can manifest itself through imagery, movement and music, which is what Leilani successfully achieves as a theatrical experience, one that takes you on a journey through the essence of music reminiscent of silent movies, movement, comedy and a reverent tribute to the Commedia dell’Arte”.

It is an experience that is worth the admission price 10 times over!   A truly moving and polished performance.

Bravo!

***  Leilani is part of the Matchbox 2016 Season and is showing at the Q-Theatre (Loft) from August 4th – Saturday 13th

Medea | Silo Theatre

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You have until July 9 to catch Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks stunning revisionist take on the legend that inspired Euripides’ famous ancient Greek tragedy, Medea.

Medea – when told traditionally – is the tale of a marriage deep in crisis.  Jilted by her husband Jason, Medea responds to her husband’s infidelity with the murder of their sons, Jasper and Leon.

Directed by Rachel House – best known for her roles in Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy – this interpretation of Medea is a brave and novel exploration of a family’s fate in the grim and selfish face of parental infidelity told through the eyes of children.

As the action begins, we are invited into the boys’ shared private quarters where, amid games of rough and tumble, the pair sound out what their future may hold post-parental fight. Littered with piles of clothes, stray duvets and abandoned sports paraphernalia, the set reflects the chaos that – unbeknownst to either child – is unfolding beyond the four walls to which they are confined.

When we are finally introduced to Medea in the form of actor Bronwyn Bradley, she thunders through the doors of the boys’ bedroom; a terrifying hurricane of dominance and misplaced rage. In the final scene, our attention is drawn back to the cosmos imagined by the boys through the glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling above their bunk beds, and Bradley’s final words to her sons are a flare of grief against its hopeful light.

Silo theatre’s production of Medea shows until 09 July at Herald Theatre. Tickets from silotheatre.co.nz

NZICF16 | Flick Electric Company – ‘Last Laughs’

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The energy was electric. The Sky City Theatre was packed to the brim. Every comedian in Auckland was in the house. Anticipation was high, yet no-one could have expected the delirious fun about to unfold.

The stage was set for ‘Last Laughs’, the inaugural wrap-up event of the fantastic season of NZ International Comedy Festival 2016.  Hosted by Paul Ego, we were set to be entertained by the nominees of both the Billy T James and Fred (Dagg) Awards.

Laura Daniels led the impressive line-­up with her strong female presence and straight out of the box hits us between the eyes with a shocking image of female menstruation that is indelibly etched into my mind, no matter how much I scrub it.

Following her lead the young but impressive newcomer James Malcolm took a swing with his highly­ tuned gaydar and Paddle Pop sex tales.

Then came Pax Assadi, bringing personal accounts of growing up in South Auckland, assumed ISIS affiliations and other such cultural stereotypes, complete with impersonations of his formidable Middle Eastern mother.

Next up was Nic Sampson, sharing his smart narratives of the problems with modern technology and one unfortunate puppy’s failure in guide­ dog academy.

Then just when we least expected it, David Correos. The Filipino firecracker started strong, the middle was pretty damn impressive, and the ending was nothing short of spectacular.  After a crazy scenario involving an egg, cinnamon, litre of milk and inhalation of a condom he was off the stage and the crowd was off the chain. Correos had achieved the impossible: Paul Ego was speechless. In the face of some very stiff competition, the Billy T award, Correas was the winner of the night!

With the Billy T nominees done and dusted, it was time for the Fred’s, the Award for the Best New Zealand show in the Festival.

Matt Stellinwerth came out first to take the piss out of homeopathy, “the air­ guitar of medicine”. Stellinwerth is a smart guy, a criminology student, and not a person you’d want to have an argument with in a public park.

Alice Brine was our next contestant for the Fred Award, with a pretty epic dating disaster yarn resulting in one sorry suitor’s microchipped ass, made for some brilliant romantic horror material.

At this point the comedy bar had been lifted so high, Guy Williams could have limboed under it standing up. Then Rhys Mathewson came onto the stage, to a huge reception from his fellow thespians and killed it, with a rock-solid stand up routine that felt like the main event, and it was: Ladies and Gentlemen, we had a winner.

A wonderful, filthy surprise was in store to keep us entertained while the judges deliberated. Raw Comedy Quest winner and x-rated cutie Lucy Roche opened with anal (excuse the pun) and never looked back. One to watch, but don’t bring your Grandma.

IT still wasn’t over! To take us out, we had the class act UK comedian Jimmy McGhee, rounding of the night with descriptively brilliant anecdotes of gentrification, hypocrisy and hipsters. After the madness of the Kiwi contingent, the Londoner took it a whole new level.

By now the crowd would have laughed at a gumboot, which as it happened, we did.  After David Correos received his award, instinctively ripping his clothes off in uncontrollable joy, Rhys Mathewson upped the ante with his acceptance speech, voluntary strip-tease slowly ensued, our eyes shielded only by the Fred Award’s miniature mounted gumboot, held proudly erect as Mathewson pondered his exit strategy sans clothes.

What a night. What a Festival. What a laugh. Can’t wait for 2017 …

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NZICF 2016 | Joseph Moore | So… I’m a Dad!

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Joseph Moore is the embodiment of enthusiasm as he leaps on stage at The Basement to deliver his show ‘So… I’m a Dad!’ as part of this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival.  A self-confessed ‘former bad boy of New Zealand comedy’,  Moore may well be familiar to you from a number of TV3 shows including Fail Army, Jono and Ben, Funny Girls and 7 Days.

Moore’s latest routine focuses on the joy of being a new parent. He invites the audience to join him on a bizarre, vividly imagined (I’m being kind) journey through new parenthood, with the aide of character voice overs and some fairly dodgy audio visual tricks, which I can only guess is supposed to evoke a slight giggle on account of being so purposely hokey.

While there are touches of humour in Moore’s anecdotal material, beware anyone who isn’t a fan of slapstick humour as the laughs for you will be few and far between. Rather, Moore takes comedic hyperbole to a whole new level where the impact of his punchlines are lost time and time again.

‘So… I’m a Dad’ fails release any gold by way of embracing the current trend of being honest about the true horrors of parenting. While Moore’s style of comedy is certainly unique compared to other Festival acts, the cringe factor of his show far outweighs the laugh level. I’ve heard far better jokes sat across a pub table from my friends; half of which haven’t even have to become a parent to be that funny.