Tag Archives: Herald Theatre

Been | An Illiad

Wednesday night at the Herald Theatre, a hippodrome filled with culture and history; an ancient tragic chronicle is brought to life, through a dramatic retelling of the ‘An Iliad’ – an epic saga of love, war and loss, first written by the infamous Ionian poet, Homer and reworked for the modern audience by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare.

In this performance, directed by Jonathan Hendry, the weathered and tortured poet is played by the accomplished Michael Hurst .  He appears without warning, albeit unassuming and disillusioned, in the vanguard of a simple and slightly shambolic setting; possibly reflecting the state of mind of our poet and narrator.

Hurst’s ability to create imagery and background to a series of events that catapulted a monumental war, are seamless and superb.  He manages to transfix an entire audience, through his figurative language and dramatic expression, whilst recounting the fall of Troy and the role of the Gods.  The themes throughout the play: Fate, Kleos (glory), Hybris (time), pride & Menis (fury) drive the plot, in particularly the theme of fury ‘rage’ and how it becomes an addiction; fuelling the demises of many, but that is ultimately a vice of no positive consequence.

An Illiad cleverly contextualizes historic sequences, to provide relevance to the contemporary audience; referencing conflicts from the Archean age to current day.   Hurst is also brilliant, at providing some often needed comedic relief from the heavy subject of war, through perfectly weaved narrative.

Once Shayne Carter joins him on the stage and introduces us to his unique musical score, we see how this addition of audio somehow lubricates the poet’s memory.  From this point he becomes more lucid and frenetic.    Shayne’s eponymous style of music is the perfect accompaniment to the passionate and evocative story-telling of Michael Hurst.  The subtle metallic riffs, are fittingly moody and embody the essence of the play.  Creating urgency and chaos as we reach the most pivotal peaks of this epic.  The cleverly executed art direction is also vital to the success of this collaboration; the serpentine silhouette of musician and instrument, metaphorizing the shadow of Homers muse, is definitively striking.

With fierce passion and engagement with each character (embodied by respected artists) the journey draws to it’s fateful end . With Archilles lamenting the death of his dear companion Patroclus, the themes introduced to us: ‘pride, fury and time’ become ultimately, even more significant and poignant.

Two undeniable doyens of the New Zealand live art scene, Michael Hurst and Shayne Carter form an unlikely duo, which results in a truly powerful stage performance.

An ambitious, yet successful theatrical undertaking, ‘An Iliad’ is extraordinary work to see and  is brought to you by Auckland Live and ArtSense Productions.







An Illiad is currently showing at Herald Theatre – Aotea Centre:                                                                                                ~Wednesday May 29th – Sunday 9th June

FRINGE 18 | 5 mins with Anders Falstie-Jensen

Can the modern human handle nothing happening for a sustained period of time? Can you? Only one way to find out – The Rebel Alliance, Auckland Live and Auckland Fringe present…. (wait for it….) Watching Paint Dry.

We chat to writer and director, Anders Falstie-Jensen. Hailing from Denmark, Anders arrived in New Zealand just under two decades ago. He has completed a Master of Art and Drama at the University of Auckland and is one of the founding members of The Rebel Alliance Theatre Company. Over the years he’s worked as a director, writer, producer, production manager, stage manager, lighting technician and a receptionist!

Is this your first Fringe Auckland?
No. The Rebel Alliance was last in the Auckland Fringe in 2011 with our production Standstill so it’s been a while

How different is an Auckland audience to other audiences?
Auckland audiences… They are spoilt for choice. So much good theatre in this city.

Describe your show in three words or less…
Quiet. Danish. Well-lit (does the hyphen make it four?)

Fringe Festivals are known for the weird, wacky, and utterly wonderful – what’s the most bizzare thing you’ve come across during your Fringe history?
The very first Auckland Fringe festival in 2009. The reason is that I got to stage manage the entire 3 week at The Basement so I got to see all the shows. It was a real eye opener for how a fringe, often due to the low budgets involved, forces artists to distill their ideas. When money is stripped away you get to see the core of people’s ideas. And seeing an ingenious idea in its rawest form is so exhilarating. Nothing beats that. It was an incredible 3 weeks and man I learned some stuff. Thinking back on 2009 and looking at the festival today it’s extraordinary how it has changed. And how Auckland has changed too.

What are your top 3 picks for Auckland Fringe?
Week 1, Week 2 and the closing night partay.

Where will we find you during the festival?
That is a very good question.

What would we find if we raided your fridge?
Cheese for my biscuits and milk for my coffee

Tell us about your spirit animal?
When I was a child my granddad killed s snake with a cane and put it in a bottle of spirit to preserve it. Once I had a feverish nightmare where the snake was the size of 4 school buses. It wrapped itself around my bed and crushed it. I woke up just before it ate me.
But that’s the animal that haunts my dreams. If it comes a straight up spirit animal it would be a tuna or a Labrador.

Word Association:
Fringe – good times.Fridge – cold beers
Auckland – I’m not built for this climate
Festival – chance encounters with unexpected magic
Lights – Sean Lynch
Chocolate – Fuel
Winter – The climate I’m built for
Theatre – my accidental career

Catch Anders Falstie-Jensen’s Watching Paint Dry at Herald Theatre Wed 28 – Sat 3 March as part of Auckland Fringe Festival. Buy tickets here.


NZICF 15 | Des Bishop – Made in China

Ever been to a comedy gig that resembles a cultural exchange/OE seminar? Well, if you haven’t, check out Des Bishop’s “talk” at this year’s NZICF.

Armed with a slideshow, several subtitled footage and even a laser pointer – Bishop ventured into the treacherous world of powerpoint presentation. Thankfully, there was very little reliance on his audio & visual props. Instead, the American-born Irish evoked laughter with a supercharged energy and an unmistakable eagerness to share his fascinating 2-year experience in China. He even showed off some seamlessly legit switching between English and Mandarin, so effortlessly, one wonders if he’d spent hours on tongue-twisting rehearsals or if the 2 years of studious immersion in the language had really paid off. My bet is on the latter!

Why China, you may ask. Bishop blatantly admitted to the appeal of the 1.4 billion-viewership cash cow that the world’s most populated country has to offer, making reference to his previous pursuit of Gaelic which reached a modest audience of 60 thousand.  I don’t blame him. What’s better than an outspoken Western comedian voluntarily plunging himself into censorship China, and lives to tell the tales? What’s better had to be the fact that his depiction of China was not of a cynical stereotype but of a sympathetic observation on the country and its people. Bishop’s account was alive with hilarious contrasts and similarities on modern Chinese society, politics and economy versus those of Irish and even New Zealand’s – driving it closer to home for us in the audience. He even dotted his stories with a few sideline jokes, gelling it all together into a flawless stand-up delivery

Des Bishop is here in Auckland, showcasing his “Made in China” product every night at the Herald Theatre until Sat, May 2nd with a special Mandarin only show at 5pm on the same day. No doubt, he’ll sell out again this year!

been | The Pianist

The Pianist’s (Thomas Monckton) worst nightmare was the source of my entertainment last night at Aotea Centre’s Herald Theatre.

Centred around the magnificent grand piano, the poised pianist’s attempts to impress the audience transforms the elegant performance into a catastrophically funny circus act. With an engaging, silent energy that is reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, Monckton carries himself clumsily through the curtains and straight into bedlam.

From the minute he actually made it onto the stage, Monckton had the audience reeling with laughter. His implementation of circus technique intertwined with his own physical finesse is absurd yet seamless: the juggling of the manuscript, hanging from the chandelier by his feet, flinging his body across the piano. These all reaped their own rewards as the entertainer worked to overcome the barriers presented to him.

Source: Heli Sorjonen

Source: Heli Sorjonen

The repetitive nature of Monckton’s performance gave way to a man desperate to perform to his regaling audience members. His adamant “professional pianist” act only drew more shrieks of amusement from the crowd. Monckton played on these reactions, at one point clambering through the audience to attack the lighting team, who refused to correct their misplaced spotlighting. Encouraging the audience, he flung reams of paper over our heads, throwing them at audience members who mocked him.

Whilst a large portion of the show focuses on the humorous, we see the pianist finally get his shining moment as he performs a complex piece. This moment only lasts a short while before smoke begins to pour out of the opening of the grand piano and he frantically rushes off the stage.

The comedic style and cunning, combined with the impeccable use of circus techniques, make The Pianist an evening of excitement and hilarity for everyone.

1DP | Day 69 of 100 Days, 100 Individuals

Luanne Gordon is an actress who’s been on our screens for over a decade now.  She’s had roles in everything from Xena: Warrior Prince to The Insiders Guide to Happiness.  Her most recognised role would be as Melissa, the corporate lawyer who leaves her job to go on a journey of self-discovery as she runs a Strip Club in the TV3 series, The Strip.  She’s also starred alongside Robbie Magasiva and Kirk Torrance in big-screen flick, Stickmen (she won an award for her performance!).  Luanne left NZ to work in a UK television production called Shameless but she’s back on our shores now and she’s taking to the stage in Silo ’s latest production Speaking in Tongues.  We talk to her on Day 69 of our 100 Days Project.

What’s your biggest fear?

There are some periods – usually stressful one’s – when everything scares me. It’s very counterproductive so I work to combat it.

What’s your purpose in life?  

To do my best; to better myself from the inside out.

What are you passionate about?

My dog, Piper, she’s almost an obsession. Writing something good. Being involved in creating and sharing stories.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

What gets me out of bed earlier than I would like is Piper – and she’s worth it.

Everyone has a dirty little secret, what’s yours?

I’m shy.

If today was your last day on earth, what would you do?

I would enjoy the time with my family and friends.

What is your happy place?

Sitting on a deserted beach watching the ocean. In bed with a good book. An afternoon movie at the cinema.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2013?

Sharing stories in some way, shape, or form – as best I can.

Catch Luanne along with her pals Oliver Driver, Stephen Lovatt and Alison Bruice in Speaking in Tongues at the Herald Theatre until Saturday 14th September – for more information, head to www.silotheatre.co.nz.

Des Bishop Likes to Bang

Herald Theatre, 50 Mayoral Drive
Thursday 10 – Saturday 12 May, 7pm

Head on down to the Herald Theatre and check out Des Bishop. If you like extreme honesty and a very high level of intensity to go with your comedy, you’re going to have a good night. Bishop moved from New York to County Wexford in Ireland when he 14 years old and his show is rich in observations he’s made from his life in both Ireland and the US.

No topic seems to be off limits or too taboo. Bishop has an exceptional ability to make people laugh, especially when he’s talking about serious themes. It takes an impressive talent to go from sharing his own experience dealing with testicular cancer to making us howl with knowing laughter at his take on hotel sex.

A wonderful end to the evening was his drumming session, yes…Des likes to Bang! Enlisting the talents of a brother and sister ‘act’ we got a demented cross between the Dido and Eminem collaboration and some suggestive gangsta drumming…much silly fun and the audience loved it.

If you like your comedy a little bit high brow with some naughtiness thrown in for good measure, he’s your man. Highly recommended.


Idiots of Ants

Idiots of Ants are an English based Comedy Group made up of four members, Elliot Tiney, Benjamin Wilson, James Wrighton and Andrew Spiers. They’re winners of the 2010 Chortle Awards (Character or Sketch Act), which celebrates the best of the best in live comedy.  Awarded by a panel of famous comedians and by a vote of comedy fans, it’s okay to assume that they’re a big deal.

So how does one describe the Idiots of Ants? One could say it’s like channel surfing on your TV….

Channel 1, their first act is a WW2 war scene. Channel 2, is a movie scene where men are planning a wife swap. Channel 3, is a sketch where a German and American spy are discussing an exchange of money and documents. The act is constantly changing but the only thing that is constant is their energy levels and the mockery of Finn, the unlucky chap in the front row (thankfully we were spared!).

The mixing and mashing of sketches makes some of the sketches forgettable, such as their sketch based on passing gas.

The opening is probably hands down their best sketch.  Starting while punters are taking their seats, the quartet is in a WW2 scenario. As the sketch goes on they begin to realize they aren’t actually in World War 2 and are in Auckland at the Herald Theatre. It’s a hilarious opening and the punters are hooked.

All in all, I would definitely recommend catching Idiots, especially if you’re interested in sketch comedy troupes.

They”re on from Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 May, 8.45pm.  For more info and to buy tickets click here.