2016 Reviews

Commander Claire and the Pirates of Provence

Commander Claire and the Pirates of Provence

The picturesque Mayfair Theatre is a sublime setting for a panto, its gently sloping auditorium making it easy to watch everyone else in the audience, and to hop down onto the stage at the merest hint of an invitation from the actors.  It is a pleasure to see hundreds of excited little kids enjoying each other as much as they enjoy the polished performers.   

We get exactly what we are promised: a fast-paced and funny show with lots of audience participation, puppetry, songs, and over-the-shoulder cardboard ships.

Everyone seems happy as they stream out…. A new generation has been introduced to theatre, and peut-être to the role the navy plays in protecting us from the scheming French. This free show is a most generous gesture, and also a public relations strategy worthy of our armed forces. Theatreview


Barnie Duncan : Calypso Nights

Barnie Duncan : Calypso Nights

Duncan is a great actor and has created a solid character in Juan Vesuvius. Even though every joke is stretched out to breaking point, his charm manages to win everyone over in the end. It is no mean feat to get every single member of a Dunedin audience up on their feet and dancing in the theatre at the end of a show. Theatreview


Arthur Meek: On the Conditions and Possibilities of Hilary Clinton taking me as her Lover.

Arthur Meek: On the Conditions and Possibilities of Hilary Clinton taking me as her Lover.

Richard Meros, BA, gives us a PowerPoint presentation on the conditions and possibilities of Hillary Clinton taking him as her young lover in the hope that our support will boost his chances of wordplay, excellent PowerPoint animations and Arthur Meek's delightfully amorous congress with the US presidential candidate.

The show must have evolved rapidly to keep up with the fast-paced American presidential race, and perhaps as a result there are some gaps in the internal logic of the play. This is more than made up for with ribald eccentric performance. Theatreview


The Complete History of the Royal New Zealand Navy

The Complete History of the Royal New Zealand Navy

There were so many highlights — the excellent German-accented dialogue in a torpedo U-boat scene, a detailed enactment of the river Plate, anti-Aussie jokes and an HMNZPhilomel cameo that climaxed with details set to Greased Lightning in an impressive vocal quartet.

Really great entertainment, especially the evening performance, which received a standing ovation and is well worthy of recording for TV. Otago Daily Times


Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen

Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen

Front man Mikelangelo promised to plumb the depths of human emotion for his two Dunedin performances and he delivered, making the audience unashamedly howl like wolves in a show of appreciation. The slick crooner walked the aisles, sat on the laps of men and women singing the sultry song directly to them.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the close encounter and those who missed out could hug Mikelangelo in the foyer, an offer accepted by most. Otago Daily Times.


Michele A'Court: Stuff I Forgot to Tell My Daughter

Michele A'Court: Stuff I Forgot to Tell My Daughter

Michele A'Court knows how to captivate an audience and exactly how to time her anecdotes for maximum hilarity. She makes an instant connection with her audience from the first moment of her show, which is a slideshow of photos of her daughter. Every single person in the audience relates to these iconic Kiwi coming of age moments. She is a warm and inviting storyteller.

Everyone leaves the theatre with a smile. It is the kind of show that afterwards you immediately message your friends saying “you have got to see this!”  Theatreview


Caterpillars

Caterpillars

On every level this is a joyful, enriching experience, and the audience is wholly captivated.

Caterpillars is undoubtedly totally bewitching theatre. Educational too, for if the kids can't afford Otago Museum's butterfly house, they're sure to be off hunting a fat fuzzy caterpillar to tickle its way across their palm. For now, though, those palms are needed for excited and well deserved applause.  Theatreview


Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere

Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere

This show is perfect for conspiracy theorists, and lovers of mystery and urban legends. If you want to delve deeper into the mind bending possibilities of the clues given in Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere then you can submerse yourself into the companion virtual reality experience of The Cube which takes place in the containers right outside the Hutton Theatre.  

If that is still not enough, then you will find even more layers of this story online. The layers of the experience that Wilkinson has created are even more delicious than the mystery. Theatreview


The Cube

The Cube

The Cube is a fascinating Virtual Reality experience using the newly released Oculus Rift technology to take you on a mind-bending journey from a plywood box in America's Great Basin Desert through space to a place where the fabric of reality itself becomes blurred. And I don't just mean this figuratively. 

The ingenious spectacle created will be enough to make your head spin and your jaw drop, and if it doesn't make you exited for a future in which VR becomes more widespread as an artistic medium, I don't know what will. It is a fantastic display of bleeding edge expression and if you were to miss it you would be doing yourself a great disservice. Theatreview

 


Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients

Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients

Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients is a fantastic example of that slightly different creature, dance theatre. It's not pure dance and it's not theatre in its traditional form either but it incorporates the best elements of both and opens both up to a new audience.

 This was definitely a show aimed at pleasing adventurous children. It's fun watching children's expressions range from bemused to laughter, from wondering if these people are actually going to get away with being that naughty to wondering if maybe they could try it out at home (I definitely saw that on a couple of wee faces).

 Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients is about vivacity and fun and enticing people in the world of performing arts – I say get them while they're young and it can only be good for everyone. Theatreview


Songs for the Fallen

Songs for the Fallen

Harbridge has written a show that is bursting at the seams with energy, debauchery and completely fabulous one liners.

Watching a young lady sell herself to lecherous old men to stave off starving for just a little bit longer and then achingly die of tuberculosis aged 23 seems like it would not make great material for a comedy. Harbridge and her posse acknowledge this, like the girls who fell and couldn't get up and then distract you with a round of manic dancing, singing, clowning and glitter. So much glitter that looks so lovely in the stage lights that occasionally you forget that it represents blood.

 Shane Anthony's direction keeps the show from getting too maudlin however, with regular doses of direct address and generous helpings of self-referential humour. Come and see why New York loved this show so much and showered it with so many awards. Theatreview


The Devil’s Half-Acre

The Devil’s Half-Acre

If you have seen a production by Trick of the Light Theatre before you probably don't need my recommendation to see The Devil's Half-Acre because you already know that they deal exclusively in quality.
Their offering this time around brings us to Gold Rush era Dunedin for an intriguing, emotionally powerful narrative told with distinctive visual flair and an enthralling score to boot. In other words, standard Trick of the Light stuff. Theatreview


Krapp’s Last Tape

Krapp’s Last Tape

There are three excellent reasons to go to Krapp’s Last Tape. 
The first is Samuel Beckett’s unsettling, baffling play about Krapp — on the verge of his threescore and ten, his identity unravelling, staring into the void of mortality and listening to a tape of his 30-years-earlier and seemingly more confident and competent self. 
The second is Peter King’s exquisitely messy set, recalling his design for The Caretaker in 2014. 
The third and by no means the smallest reason to go is Simon O’Connor’s astonishing performance. Otago Daily Times 


Dunedin Symphony Orchestra: Gallipoli to the Somme

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra: Gallipoli to the Somme

After the final chord, complete silence held the audience before prolonged applause and standing ovation rewarded this brilliant new work. Ritchie will be remembered as one of the greatest composers of his time. Otago Daily Times


Cellists Aotearoa

Cellists Aotearoa

Superlative playing of a superlative programme was awarded full-bodied applause and loud in-unison stamping from a highly appreciate audience. It was a real pleasure to hear such a high level of contemporary local talent showcased with such pride and enjoyment. Otago Daily Times


Michael Leunig at St Paul’s

Michael Leunig at St Paul’s

He spoke freely and the genuine responses were natural and unrehearsed, people seemed content to bask in his gentle manner for nearly an hour. Otago Daily Times


Mary Stuart

Mary Stuart

Mary Stuart is the most ambitious production to date in the newly renovated theatre, and a fine and successful contribution to the Arts Festival. Otago Daily Times


The Wine Project

The Wine Project

The dungeon at the Athenaeum provided the perfect backdrop for The Wine Project, with its aged interior - some might say dilapidated or disused, but I say atmospheric. Columns, concrete and wooden floorboards made the ideal setting for an evening of debauched overindulgence. This work is magical, dangerous, tantalising and a little bit naughty. The seductiveness is tortuous and leaves the audience wanting more. I think a wine was high on the list of wants at the conclusion. Otago Daily Times


Mike Nock Trio and the NZTrio : Vicissitudes

Mike Nock Trio and the NZTrio : Vicissitudes

A near-capacity house gave enthusiastic applause to both the Mike Nock Trio and the NZTrio stellar performances at the Glenroy Auditorium last night. The two trios joined forces to perform Vicissitudes, composed by Nock in response to the Christchurch earthquakes, with a series of variations in which each trio gets to hold the stage and also to share selected variations. There were moments of exquisite beauty and others of sheer joy. Theatreview


Out of The Box

Out of The Box

Out of the Box is a show full of energy, charm, skill, and bounce. The seven men spread and fling themselves across the stage, using every corner, and embody the exuberance, freedom of expression and fun that I've always thought hip hop, as a dance form, is about. Theatreview


LIVE LIVE CINEMA: Little Shop of Horrors

LIVE LIVE CINEMA: Little Shop of Horrors

While the film mostly proceeds at a sedate pace, what happens on the stage is frantic. Timing is split-second and action mimics, augments and mocks what’s on the screen. So much happens at once that it’s hard to know where to look, and impossible to take it all in.
Created and composed by Leon Radojkovic, the show combines gruesome goings-on with verbal and visual comedy.
Highly accomplished, it’s also just this side of bonkers.
I loved it, and so did the delighted, energetically applauding audience in the nearly-full auditorium. Otago Daily Times


Under Milk Wood

Under Milk Wood

The line at the Fortune Theatre goes out the door, down the stairs, along the street and around the corner. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see Under Milkwood performed by Guy Masterson. They are not disappointed.
Masterson takes on the phenomenal challenge of playing an entire village by himself with ease. He allows the performance to flow along with the rhythm of the words and changes character so fast he barely seems to take a breath. He capitalises on the comedy in Dylan Thomas' gleeful sense of humour. 

Matt Clifford has designed wonderful music and soundscape for this show. The lighting design is simple and effective. Anna van den Bosch and Jordan Lawson, the lighting and sound technicians, are more than just operators, they are an integral part of the show. Their timing and the scenes they create are fantastic. 

Director Tony Boncza can be proud of the show he helped create as it ends in a standing ovation. Theatreview


Whales

Whales

Six year old Lochlann, who has to be restrained from following the pod out to sea, rushes to his grandparents shouting, “I saved a whale!” then raced round the Octagon, unable to contain his excitement and triumph. 

For certain, something real has been shared. Theatreview


Shylock

Shylock

Guy Masterson has taken up the cause of two characters, the only Jews in Shakespeare, and used them to create a semi-documentary, semi-theatrical exploration of the western world's treatment of Jews. It is a unique presentation, enthralling in depth and variety.
Somehow, in a thoroughly entertaining medium, he communicates an appreciation of Shakespeare's complex play, the riches of Jewish humour and wit, and the grisly history of persecution Jews have suffered for centuries. Otago Daily Times