Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Lead Wait


This is theatre for festival film goers. It’s literally and figuratively gritty – dirt is shifted around and washed off bodies. There are canaries in a cage as one walks into the theatre. Secrets are hinted at, discussed, exposed. A fish is gutted with a particularly blunt knife then cooked on stage.
There are four characters. Leon (Scott Wills) carries rage and hurt with a slice of viciousness as he goes about his business digging holes. His sister Juliet (Heather O’Carroll) is weighed down by life and the decrepit ruin their house has become. The lodger, Iain (Richard Chapman) wants to leave but isn’t quite quick or brave enough to do it. The Man (Jason Whyte) returns to the house after a long absence. His presence stirs up old resentments.
The stage is between two sections of audience. Several times I looked up to notice that many on the other side had their hands to their throats or over their mouths. This mirrored what I was doing. There is such a sense of hopelessness and dread that we were physically trying to hold it back.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are a few laughs to be had from the stories the characters tell as they skirt around the issue of what happened before the Man left. Even in those moments of levity, there is a creeping horror at what surely must be coming. I like this script. I like the way it doesn’t tell the audience what happened. We have to work it out for ourselves. I like the restraint in the acting.

Directed by Andrew Foster, The Lead Wait is on at Circa until 11 June.
Note: contains strong language, full nudity and raw subject material.

Tuesday and Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday to Saturday 8.00pm
Sunday 4.00pm

Death and the dreamlife of elephants

The story is driven by a quest given by a mysterious being to a young man living in Wellington. He has to find a particular elephant that used to be in his mother’s collection. After she died the collection was disposed of. Meanwhile on the other side of town a young woman gives an elephant to her grandmother…

This play reminded me of the July I spent watching the Tour de France at night and then working or going to festival films during the day. With a limited amount of sleep the whole world takes on a strange aspect. Nothing really fits and it seems that everything is possible. The play is random and surreal. In one section it’s scary as hell. I was never quite sure who was who or what was happening or how they got there…these sections were offset by interactions that I’m sure I’ve seen play out in real life.

Beautiful, clever staging. Excellent lighting design.


On to 4 June at Downstage.

Disclaimer: I’m stoked to be a Downstage Ambassador which means they give me tickets to their shows for Season One.

Mary Stuart

For a queen to stand, a queen must fall. Elizabeth isn’t sure what to do with her wayward cousin, Mary. Keep her? Kill her? Her courtiers certainly have their opinions. But she’s the Queen. She makes her own decisions, yeah! …right?

It was a revelation for me to see Elizabeth Hawthorne and Stuart Devenie. I particularly liked the way Hawthorne played simpering and flirty and whimsical and manipulative at the same time. Devenie conveyed the grim, stiff-upper-lipped.character wonderfully. A twitch of his shoulders or a sudden stillness spoke volumes. Robyn Malcolm was passionate and humble…right up until the moment her character couldn’t deny her upbringing. The production gallops along at a cracking pace. It’s funny. It’s dark. The characters are by turns reflective, fanatical, wheedling, noble, crazy, furious, sad. Marvellous stuff.

Comedy festival 2011

On a boat – Wellington's finest emerging comedians

Was on a boat – which didn't really agree with me unfortunately. (I spent most of the night gripping a ginger beer and staring fixedly at the house lights out the tiny porthole). We were a difficult crowd to play to (apparently the later crowd were more appreciative) so I had to keep my giggling under control. Bit of a mixed bag for me. Some I didn't get at all, some I really liked. Fun to see newbies working out their style though.


The boy with tape on his face
I managed to luck into the extra show in Auckland. The queue was long but it was well worth the wait. Many of the laughs come from The Boy's interactions with members of the audience who join him on stage. Up on stage, under the lights, in front of the audience you belong to, next to the guy who's telling you what to do (without words) – well it's obviously a lot more difficult than it looks from the audience POV. This makes it hysterically funny to the rest of us – to the point that people around me would be gleefully describing what The Boy wanted the person to do and then cracking up when they didn't do it. Even though it's a repeat performance I think each show would feel different as The Boy interacts with different people. Laughed so much I cried.


Jeremy Elwood's (un)common sense??

In the Garden Bar in Wellington. Didn't think this show was quite as polished as last year's show but it had more variety (including a couple songs) so, swings and roundabouts yeah? Some laughing, some crying, some thinking.



Five shows were improvised on the night. Although there was a wide range of experience in the players I was amazed anew at the wide range of general knowledge they all had and how they could intersperse it with details that brought the house down.


CSI Wainui

Narrative based on a murder in the good town of Wainuiomata.?? There were actual people from Wainuiomata there at the show! Their suggestions for "best thing?" ("no KFC") and "What is there a lot of?" ("churches"."What kind of churches?" All kinds!") were incorporated into the story.


Snake Oil

Solo improvised show supported by a musician based on the tales of a Victorian explorer who has a magical elixir to sell us. (A misheard "Niger" for the name of a ski field resulted in a number of very funny references to the "Niger-ian Mystics".)??


Covert Improv Night

Improv rookies compete in elimination rounds to be the winner on the night. Some very funny sketches and some less than successful ones. My favourite was one that resembled a long form joke ??? i.e. blah blah blah –?? punchline! Lots of fun.


Instant Broadway

Musical based on the convention "The something something of somewhere". On the night that turned into "The Ugly Mechanic of Scotland" and involved the Queen of England, an Australian, a bald man and tiny trucks.


Late night jam

The most random collection of audience dancing, short challenges for improvisers, a guest (John Palino making pizza!!), 'making things from common household items' demonstrations and a surprise ongoing cameo from a lovely drunk. Totally crazy. (Would go again.)