Monthly Archives: March 2011

Silk

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This show has finished in the Auckland Fringe Festival. It is a monologue from a woman on a variety of things – the beauty of silk, the possibilities of dress, things to do on a first date, things not to do on a first date. Clever use of a length of fabric creates clothing, a house and other scenes. Light and sound effects keep the tension high. Emma Newborn gives a great performance. Special mention to the techs – good job team!

Silent Night

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Sadly, you _will_ recognise this character. You will have seen her in the supermarket or across the table or in the mirror when you are contemplating your own future. (And I don’t care if you’re male, it could happen to you.) Brilliant characterisation by solo performer Yvette Parsons had the opening night audience laughing (or snorting) well beyond the joke. She’s funny cause it’s true. She’s sad cause it’s true.
Subtly played, nice.

Silent Night, Shamon Productions
Mon 7 – Sun 13 March, 8pm, Old Folks Association Hall

Also – a friend recommends Drowning in Veronica Lake, Tuesday 8th March 7:00pm Basement Theatre.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Best to think of this as a cultural event and to be prepared for low tech puppetry (and the weather!) The stories are enchanting if you can let go of adult expectations and approach them in a childlike manner. (There were quite a few children in the audience the night I went. They were laughing a lot.) The music was more cheerful than I expected. The puppets were shabbier than I expected. (Some of them needed to be repainted. Others looked like they needed some repair work.)
One thing I found very interesting was the outdoor seating. It wasn’t quite dark so the performers could see us clearly. It made me wonder if my experience of some plays would be different if the house lights were on throughout.

Vietnamese Water Puppets, Thang Long Troupe, Vietnam
8-20 March, various times, Aotea Square

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Paper Sky

A story on an intimate scale from Red Leap Theatre. Intimate in both the need to be close to the stage to see some of the action and in the story itself.
Henry has made his home his sanctuary. Outside is scary and loud. Inside is safe and secure. Predictable. Then Lumina appears and changes his life.
There isn’t a lot of dialogue in this show which means that the audience has to really focus on the performers to pick up the story. It helps that there is plenty of physical comedy in and around the more serious (and potentially scary) scenes. Clever use of folding scenery showed changes in scene and scale. Who knew paper could be robust and delicate?
Get as close to the stage as you can. Beautiful.

Paper Sky: a love story by Red Leap Theatre
10-14 March, 7pm, Mercury Theatre

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Havoc in the Garden

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I hoped that this would live up to the interview I had caught by luck on RNZ between Kim Hill and the writer Lennie James. The set promised that it would – 5 spaces on different levels spread over the stage with window frames hanging above. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. It’s three hours long but it did not feel like it to me.
There’s a large cast – 14 people – and complicated in that there are 6 storylines to follow – 5 on stage and 1 off stage (which is the catalyst for the lockdown the others find themselves in.) In the interview Mr James said that each cast member got to show him ‘their’ Auckland. (I’d like to know who showed him Vodafone Queen street!) There were a few times when I felt that the stories and phrasing were being imported from overseas but mostly it felt grounded in a familiar city.
I liked the fact that each story was a contained unit within the space. None of the 5 stories on stage crossed over with each other. Stories (well, people’s lives) _do_ play out inside walls in a way that noone outside the house is aware of. It wasn’t a play about isolation or how we should all get to know our neighbours. It explores family relationships and dynamics. Brothers and sisters; sisters and sisters; uncles and nephews; friends.

This show most definitely hit the mark. Thanks Massive.

 

Havoc in the Garden, a new play from acclaimed British writer Lennie James and Massive Company

9-12 March, 7pm, Mangere Arts Centre
16-26 March, 7pm, Pumphouse Theatre

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Who Are You?

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I really wanted to like this show. Really, really wanted to like it. Perhaps it was that I went with the expectation that the full range of youth experience would be represented but by the end I felt they had only perpetuated popular media myths. The yoof love a lot of things; they are influenced by American culture; they drink a lot of strong alcohol from a very young age (12 or younger) which means either a. sex or b. fighting or c. drink driving; they are disrespectful to their peers whether male or female. Extrapolating from some of the text (I interpreted) that they feel let down by some of the adults around them but feel powerless to change their situation and resent expectations that they should know to behave differently. This for me was the most honest statement during the whole thing.

It started so promisingly. An in your face, cleverly timed, back and forth across the stage by the ensemble. Intricate steps demanded spilt second timing and a bundle of energy. Some standout performances showcased both physical and acting skills. I liked the addition of percussionists to the side of the stage. Three quarters of the way through I was bored. I felt as though I was watching an adult???s pick of the issues that kids these days face. There is excellent choreography in there but sometimes I just couldn???t see it. Literally.* The final straw was the last piece danced to a song by The Cure. A great song but one for the generation before the generation before the one dancing.

So, beautiful dancing but it didn???t hit the mark for me.

*BTW designers ??? if you put someone in black, against a black floor and a black background then light them with dim lights then they will disappear and the audience won???t be able to see them. This is particularly frustrating when they are part of a group…unless of course it was a statement on how some kids are left out in the dark even when they seem to be part of a formal group in which case, well done, good design.

Who are you performed by UrbanYOUTHMovement,
Co-presented by Auckland Arts Festival and Black Grace

Tues/Wed 8/9 March 7.30pm Playhouse Theatre
Thurs-Sat 16-19 March 7.30pm Mangere Arts Centre

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Ihimaera

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“The twelve pages of Witi’s words, without music, spare on their A4 white paper sheets, felt for a long time like a depopulated city, a ghost town.” writes Charlotte Yates in the programme notes. Being in the audience last night felt a bit like that too. I want to let all of you know who were not there (or at the Great Town Hall the night before) – YOU FELLAS MISSED OUT.
Award winning musicians interpret Ihimaera’s word in a variety of musical styles – electronica, hiphop, jazz, rock and others that I don’t know the name of. The second thing they all have in common* is that they are very very clever. There are tricky rhythm changes, vocally challenging (and amusing) interludes, haunting melodies and instruments.
It works like this – 1. Kirk Torrance narrates a bit about Ihimaera’s life while the technicians set up. 2. The musicians come on and play. Repeat. (The technicians worked incredibly fast to set up during the narration. Good work team!) Some of the text is dense and academic. Kirk does a good job of wrestling it under control.

It’s on again tonight. *hint hint*

8pm, Genesis Energy Theatre, in-the-city-formerly-known-as-Manukau

*obviously the first is Ihimaera’s words.

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