Tag Archives: theatre

been | The Blind Date Project

A date so awful to make you appreciate all your tinder dating disasters. 

“Silo’s 2014 sell-out hit returns for a new year and a new you. Five years on, serial dater Anna’s back on the market and looking for love in all the wrong places. Each night, she meets a new blind date, each one played by a different performer, each one a surprise to Anna.”

I walked into the theatre the same way I walk into a bar to meet all my “blind dates” :  open minded, aloof with zero expectations and a hope for some entertainment and a good story to be told over wine. Greeted by the sound of a leather clad bar keep (Yvette Parsons) singing questionable karaoke, I felt an equal dose of intrigue and “what the hell did I just agree to review”.  An 80/20 reaction to most of my actual dates.

Anna (Natalie Medlock) sits at the bar nervously checking her phone waiting for her Tinder date to arrive.  Shortly after her date arrives – who just happens to be pregnant; Anna feigns indifference but this revelation becomes the central talking point of the “blind date”. This 100% improv comedy explores the great human tragedy that is the online dating profile vs the actual flawed reality.

The date becomes increasingly difficult to watch without wincing as their life stories get told and their poorly constructed personas begin to show cracks and unravel at each twist and turn. The phones begin to go off with more frequency. There are times where the audience is kept guessing who will end up making a run for it. Spoiler alert – They don’t. I am watching a train wreck. Like that bad date you know you never want to see again, but are patiently waiting to see how it all turns out. As a woman we have been known to be too polite to just leave when we ought to.

No I’m not leaving a negative review, on the contrary, the performance delivered on it’s premise. And it left me in awe. With a tinge of hope. There really could be someone for “everyone”.

It definitely put me off going on dates.  Oh, who am I kidding….looking down at my phone…”Uber is 2 mins away”….


Showing until 30th September. Book your tickets here .

been | six degrees of separation

MiNDFOOD SEASON of Six degrees of separation by John Guare, presented by Auckland Theatre Company, exposes the vacuous culture of glitz and greed that so clearly defined the ‘80s. “A story based on real life events depicts the lives of suave, sophisticated and wealthy Manhattan art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge. The Kittredges are all about keeping up appearances but their world of comfort and respectability is turned upside down with the sudden arrival of a charming stranger.”

In Six Degrees of Separation, characters from various backgrounds are thrown together in unexpected situations, and we watch them as they endear themselves to each other, enrage each other, and unravel ultimately to a point of self examination brought on by the charming stranger/con artist.

The result is both humanizing and condemning, leaving us to ponder on what we value, who we care about, and why. Exploring existential ideas, the play delves into a purposeless society with friendships driven by agenda, loneliness and Sisyphean task painted by the never-ending cycle of making enough to sustain their carefully constructed world of privilege.

Notably, the title “Six degrees of separation” plays only a small part in the play, and the theme of inter-connectivity between all people falls in behind more dominant themes of class and race.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays Ouisa Kittredge with a commanding stage presence, her nuanced portrayal of a Manhattan socialite with confused sense of self, pretentious and greedy on one side to someone with an inner need for authenticity and meaningful relationships is near perfection.

Andrew Grainger’s Flan Kittredge, is Ouisa’s supportive husband desperately trying to ensure their place in Manhattan society. We feel a tinge of pity for him at the start however as the plot unravels, with his character clinging on to his false persona and his refusal to self examine becomes unnerving to watch. 

Tane Williams-Accra plays Paul the charming stranger posing as a friend of Kittredge’s children, his somewhat awkward beginning is promptly overshadowed by his natural charisma that endears him to his unlikely hosts. He enthrals his unwitting ‘targets’ and the audience alike with his thoughtful ideologies on art, literature, philosophy; a stark contrast to the insecure, bratty and over privileged children of Kittredge as we witness later on in the play.  

One of the key symbols explored in Six Degrees of Separation is a double-sided painting, that Flan Kittredge describes as “one side geometric and sombre. The other side is wild and vivid and adds “We flip it around for variety”  The painting is attributed to Wasily Kandinsky, a celebrated artist whose career spanned the turn of the last century. Ouisa Kittredge explains the nature of the painting and how it is symbolic of the chaotic side of the painting’s dualism. She says: “Chaos, control. Chaos, control. You like, you like?” Making this the question that explains the dual role of the play in its relationship to the art. Though it is about the wealthy and their world it is quite apparent that the notion of chaos and control are very cleverly placed in the art symbolism.

Kandinsky painting holds a place in this production as an example of the dual nature of the play and it’s plot. On one side is the security of the wealthy New York family, while on the other side is the character Paul who is from the streets and possesses an extraordinary intelligence, that is used to con the people that he involves himself with. 


Overall a highly entertaining, thought provoking and relevant production. Six Degrees of Separation is showing until 30th August at ASB Waterfront Theatre..

Fringe 18: Triage! A Nursing Cabaret

If an energetic, vibrant and soulful show is what you’re after, Triage! A Nursing Cabaret fits the bill perfectly.

Australian singer Zuleika Khan expertly carries this one-man show, which blends sharp, clever humour with soulful singing sure to captivate. Examining the demanding, high pressure atmosphere of hospitals through the lens of a real-life registered nurse, Triage! carries a definite uniqueness and intrigue.

And while the content may be dark, Zuleika’s adept comic abilities enable viewers to confront themes of death and disease in a smooth and honest manner. The best thing about Triage!, however? The songs. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to Zulieka’s powerful, confident and remarkably unusual voice without walking away feeling like they have just witnessed something magic.

Hers is the kind of voice that makes you stop and listen; the kind that deserves to be on a big stage. This, combined with Zulieka’s captivating, confident stage presence, guarantees you’ll be not just entertained but deeply impressed.

Add this to your bucket list, people.


Triage! A Nursing Cabaret is running at Q Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe until Saturday 3 March. 

humans of mac+mae: Lizzie Morris

This is my favourite denim jacket, it fits every occasion and can complete every outfit. It’s an authentic retro jacket and was given to me by my Aunty on my last trip to the UK.  I’m not one to value material possessions and often value an experience over things but this jacket is the exception.

I love clothes (especially secondhand ones) and feel that the way that you present yourself is often an extension of your personality or your artistic self. My wardrobe is filled with items that tell stories, but I’d be most devastated if I lost this one.

I was given this jacket by my aunty when I visited the UK for my Grandfathers funeral, it was only about the fourth time I’d ever met her but she managed to give me a jacket that suited my style perfectly.  It used to be hers in the 80’s and as soon as I saw it I fell in love.

This jacket is just like me. It’s quirky, a bit tough, and scruffy in an endearing way. This is also how you could describe the theatre that I make and the projects that I commit myself to – Messy and charming.

Lizzie Morris created and performs in Lucinda and the Cactus Girl in Auckland Tuesday 18 – Friday 22 October.  Buy your tickets here.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “humans of mac+mae” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

humans of mac+mae: Vanessa Kumar

Here is something that is important to me, and one reasons is because  being my grandpa bought it for me on one of our thrift store adventures in Miramar, Wellington at some point last year.  It’s a nice thing to remember him by, I carry it with me whoever I go, it stays in my luggage.  Sometimes I read it, sometimes I forget to.  Another reason it’s important to me is because some of the scriptures are very encouraging and help propel me into my day.  Some of the other scriptures are scary but we tend not to dwell on those ones.

1 Corinthian 13:4-8 is one of my favourites,  the last line is ‘love never fails’

Vanessa Kumar performs the role of Priya Sengupta in Silo Theatre’s ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ from 08 – 24 September at Q Theatre.  Buy tickets here.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “humans of mac+mae” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

seen | Not Psycho

Not Psycho is a brilliantly written and directed play that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. If you’re a Hitchcock fan and love psychological thrillers this is THE show for you.

Not Psycho is a mesh-mash of ‘slasher film tropes’ blurring the line of what’s real and what’s imaginary, it is so full of twists and turns it will have you reeling. The story follows a young man named Matthew who works at a video store based in 1990s Manchester. Within minutes you realise things aren’t right between him and his psychotic mother. Matthew soon encounters an unwelcome group of misfits whom helps or hinders his recollection of his past throwing him into a wrath of delusions or unnerving realities. You sympathise with Matthew, you worry for him, you fear for him and you want to end it for him. The story is confusing, it is unsettling but it is hypnotic, intense and gripping to watch.

I got an email last Wednesday morning asking if I could review a show, as I skimmed through the email I came by two words that turned me still, Not Psycho. “Is it a film I wonder? Is it going to be scary? Holy sh*t I don’t do well with horror!” Those were my thoughts but I said yes anyway and I do not regret it.

Saturday rolls by and my partner and I were queuing, next to us stood a chalkboard which said: “Contains nudity, sexual themes, violence, strobe + haze”. I thought to myself “Oh yeah, this is my kind of show” while my partner said aloud “… my gosh, what are we watching?”. We walked past a pile of unraveled VHS tapes on the floor before turning down a dark and curtained corridor. The stage divided the room like a catwalk, seen from either side of the stage is a subtly lit frame framing the setting like a wide screen television. In the middle of the stage was a shower head, shower drain and there lay a naked body wrapped in clear plastic. The environment is cold, clinical and sterile, it was like looking into an autopsy room. Low tech stage effects such as LED lights and the use of a smoke machine added to the illusion and I really loved the metallic echoes used with some of the dialogue, that added an extra element of eeriness to the play. There was blood, there was screaming, there were definitely a lot of flashing of skin and underwear. Take me seriously when I say this and I know this line is thrown about quite often, but this show should not to be missed.


WHEN:  Tuesday – Saturday 8:30pm (August 15 – 29)

WHERE:  The Loft @ Q Theatre (305 Queen Street CBD, AUCKLAND)

TICKETS: Adults $34.00, Concessions $28.00

(Fees apply for online booking, credit & postage)




Words & Direction: Benjamin Henson
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Performance: Edwin Beats, Julia Croft, Virginia Frankovich, Kevin Keys, Donogh Rees, Bryony Skillington
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Set Design: Christine Urquhart
Lighting Design: Rachel Marlow
Sound Design: Thomas Press
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In partnership with: Q Theatre as part of Q Presents
Supported by: Arts Alive, Creative New Zealand, Höpt
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Produced by: Fractious Tash

interviewed | In conversation with Virginia Frankovich

Virginia Frankovich is an award-winning actress who loves crafts, making stuff and pretty old dresses that come with a story.  She’s featured in various theatre productions, short films and the odd television series.  We caught up with her ahead of the opening of her latest production, opening at Q Loft’s stage tonight.

Can you tell us more about the production?
Not Psycho is a kaleidoscopic mash-up of slasher films set in 90s Manchester.  We follow the story of a young man named Matthew who works in a video store. He meets a circus of misfits who help/hinder his recollections of past events

What role are you playing in it?
I play Maz (Marion). A chaotic young mancunian woman who loves to play with fire. Her real name is Marion Samuels – a 90’s nod to Marion Crane from Psycho.

How are you preparing for the role?
I’ve done lots of research on Manchester – the accent, the lifestyle and the feeling of the late 90s pre-millennium paranoia. It was a really interesting time in history post-Thatcher and I’ve been delving into the Manchester rave scene – which was huge. I’ve also done lot’s of research on female killers as well as revisiting key slasher films. There’s been plenty of films/TV shows that have helped inspire the character development for Maz. She is a feisty creature and it’s a lot of fun playing somebody a lot more bolshy than myself.

You’re quite the busy bee, besides Not Psycho you’re also directing and devising another production. Can you tell us more about this?
Ahh yes. During rehearsals for Not Psycho I’ve been directing a cast of 19 in a play written by Ben Henson (writer/director of Not Psycho) and devised by the cast called ‘Bed’. It was for Auckland Theatre Company’s ‘Next Big Thing’ festival and it was such fun to make. It’s been a case of compartmentalising, so that when I leave one rehearsal to attend the next, I can fully focus on the project at hand. It’s good to be busy. I’m a lot more productive when I’m overwhelmed with work.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into this industry – acting, producing or directing?
I began by being involved in un-paid theatrical projects I was interested in with people whose work I admired. It’s good to Invite agents/artists along to watch you and then try to arrange future work. There are some wonderful teachers who come to NZ to do workshops and it’s always great to try and put some money aside so that when those opportunities arrive, you can take part in them. And lastly, make your own work. It’s the most rewarding thing you could ever do and it’s far more productive than sitting at home complaining that you’re not getting any paid acting work. The more you make, the more chance you have of being seen by people you want to create within the future.

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2015?
I am helping Julia Croft make ‘If there’s not dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming’ – a performance collage that will take place at the Basement in September. I’m then off to Sydney/Melbourne for a month and am hoping to bring back to Auckland a show called ‘Gorge’ that I made with Phoebe Mason a few years back. Beyond that, I’m hoping to start up a female sketch group.

NOT PSYCHO | AUGUST 15 – 29 | Buy tickets here