Curtains open on a small flat. To stage right is a door leading to outside. To stage left is a door leading to a bedroom. Between the two runs a kitchenette with stove and oven, a sink, small cupboards. A fridge stands next to the bedroom door. Above the kitchenette is a double window with net curtains. In stage front is a couch facing towards audience. A small coffee table is positioned in front of couch.

Scene One: (more…)


I think this is the fourth Heavenly Burlesque, and we in the crowd were of the opinion that it was the most slick. I missed last year’s Burlesque (48 Hours FilmFest), but clearly remember 2006, if not only because upon arrival at the Paramount I was ushered into the lift by two young ladies dressed as angels, who blindfolded me and kissed me gently on each cheek. Me? Titillated? Absolutely.

Once upstairs there was a Ivanja slapping her thigh with a whip, and various other bods about the place keeping the place both sexy, and edgy.

I attended this past Friday, and noted that this atmosphere was entirely missing this year, and was replaced instead with what can only be described as ‘annoying’ performances prior to the show. Yes, a nurse sans-brassiere with an oxygen mask on is slightly edgy, but it wasn’t sexy. She squealed waaay too often. Yes, an extremely well-cut bloke wearing something from the future world in 12 Monkeys was a little edgy, but was (after consultation) making no-one feel sexy. I’ll leave it there.

My next observation is that like its audience, Heavenly Burlesque has aged considerably. It has also become a little safer and more suburban. Every time I see one of these shows I wonder, what would this be like in Paris? And despite the sexy edginess of the shows preparation being undercooked, the show itself is probably much much closer to something you’d see in Sin City.

Take for example the 2006 show, which featured a dance routine by the Red Hot Bitches. I know this troupe are something of a Wellington icon, but their performance was awful. Cringe-worthy in fact. They’re a fun troupe, and have a distinct audience, but a burlesque is not it. Actually, it’s far from it.

This type of amateurism was absent. The performances were slick, some provocative, and some outright impressive. Lighting was put to good effect, the theatre itself was well-utilised, and while Vinyl Burns was fun, funny, and out of place, he kept the different acts hanging together well.

So, in short? They might need to up the ante on the warming up of the audience, but overall a professional and slick show.

Oh, and how about a little more Eva Strangelove!! One feather dance was not enough. Maybe the upcoming Auckland shows could feature more of her.

Left work early yesterday to head up to Otaki (and hour and a half drive if you’re making good time) before the traffic got crazy. The event? Strange Resting Places was playing in the local school hall.

This is a play about a Maori from the 28th Battalion encountering an Italian man during the imminent bombing of the Cassino abbey during WW2. If you’re not familiar with the history, the New Zealand division was given the opportunity to try to take the town of Cassino, Italy in early 1944. Our main man at the time was one General Freyberg, and as part of the assault he had a 1400 year old Abbey pounded into dust by the biggest air bombardment of the Second World War…

Strange Resting Places not only tells the story of the bombardment well, it tells it excellently, with humour, song, three languages, and grace. The actors, Paolo Rotondo, Rob Mokaraka and Maaka Pohatu are superb, and the characters at times so convincing you’ll find yourself shocked to realise what you’re watching.

The play has been touring for fair while now, and I think is in Palmerston North next? If you’re with a couple of hours drive I strongly suggest you attend. Missing this is downright foolish.

Billed as “One tent, one ticket, 10 ACTS! SIDESHOW BURLESQUE as only Nana would remember. Three beauties, Gypsies if you will, perform their greatest oddities from a time long forgotten. Feathers, knives, hammers and hula hoops. Step back with us, just for a moment, you will be most pleasurably surprised!”

And indeed I was pleasurably surprised, who couldn’t be when three lithe, nubile and nimble girls bring you a feather fan dance, a can can, a quirky set with crazy umbrella tents, hypnotic hula hooping twirling, nipple tassels, a nail to the nose of a 50s housewife and much, much more! Did I mention the twirling nipple tassels?

Burlesque, I read (Wikipedia it must be true), means “in an upside down style” and aims to turn social norms on their head.  A clean freak 50s homemaker banging nails into her nose and a kebab skewer through her septum certainly conforms to this definition. 

Magenta Diamond (the 50s homemaker in question) is a gloriously nuanced performer with a number of tricks up her sleeve.  Highly watchable.

Eva Strangelove, is our dance queen for the evening and entertains with a feather fan dance and a humorous, lithe, twinkle-toed, dance with a shop dummy. 

Miss Strawberry Siren provided an aerial display, which may have lost some of its oooohhh ahhhhh effect from the small performance space that is Bats theatre and thus the proximity to the audience. It seemed effortless but also too close.  In addition to her aerial skills she is also a very bendy person, amazing to watch.

So yes, pleasantly surprised, yes, talented performers, yes, fun night, but mostly, I wanted to be teased, titillated, and teased a bit more. Instead it was straight to the chase the first act was strip tease, with far too little tease for my liking.  We were straight to the twirling nipple tassels and well, it is just hard to know where to go from there.

In search of the tease, I wonder if a rearrangement of the 10 acts would have helped create a slow burn, a build up if you will, creating a tremulous, quivering shuddering, that is then released in an explosion of…. Oh darlings, I forget myself!

Definitely go, these ladies are divinely talented and can only get better.  Be in quick as there are only two more shows at Bats, tonight and tomorrow.

Well… despite the somewhat favourable reviews this play has on it’s website, I wasn’t so impressed. In fact, by the intermission I was so bored I almost left Second Chef watching it  and wandered off to the pub.

Thing is, you can’t blame the acting, which was good, and you can’t blame the set, which was pretty interesting, well-exploited, and fun. What you can blame is a bloody awful script. I had the impression that they had a product, and someone made them add about half an hour of filler. A bad half-hour.

Paua is set in a small town called “Waiwhero”, and a killer is on the loose. Some sort of terrorist, killing poachers to punish them for plundering the coastline. Frankly, it’s not such a bad idea…

The problem is, as stated, once the story actually kicks off. The level of gratuitous killing is high, in fact almost ridiculously high. There’s even a few scenes that were completely unnecessary, they had to add props for, they took up minutes of my life for, and were completely unnecessary. Spoilers after the jump… (more…)

Frankly, this play is outright hilarious, and worth every last cent someone else payed to admit me.

Based on a little-known book of the same name, Young Lover is an amorous romp through the machinations of a young man who regards himself as the panacea to the woes of New Zealand, if only Helen would come round to the idea.

The play is more specifically a lecture delivered by Richard Meros (Arthur Meek), the author of the aforementioned book, and is adapted for the stage by Geoff Pinfield and Meek. A book that (strangely) was not mentioned and/or well-received by the Wellington press gallery. In the lecture Meros outlines not only why Helen should take him as her young lover, but also how and why it will usher in a ‘golden age’ for New Zealand. Genius.

The play is extremely well-written, extremely well-acted, and contains more gems, illuminations, satire and outright slap-your-knees-you’re-laughing-so-hard moments that you’ll feel rewarded just for turning up. Unless you work in Parliament, in which case you’ll want to perhaps wear a disguise, so as not to be seen laughing at what is a very heavy satire of the Labour Party and incumbent government.

The political jokes run thick and fast in this lecture, along with a number of outright lewd references to many people who are not Helen Clark (they don’t actually cross that line). There are even some fantastically arcane political science jokes in there, which only me and the two people sitting next to me (whom I did not know!) got.

So, there’s something in there for everyone. It’s extremely not-PC, it’s fast moving, and it’s actually funny.

Get yourself down to Bats ASAP! Today is the very last day!!

I’m glad to have made it to the last night of Sexual Perversity at the San Francisco Bath House this past Saturday. It’s a great little play full of a range of social commentary on sexual politics in the 1970s. But, it’s a commentary that seems to have amble relevance to contemporary, apparently more enlightened times.

The story centres on four characters living and working in Chicago, although the city could probably be just about any American metropolis in that decade. Danny, Deborah, Bernie and Joan are just four 20-somethings getting along and “gettin’ it on” with all the hilarity the latter entails.

It’s an interesting play because of its apparent exploration of masculinity in a time of extreme social turmoil and ongoing change. Women are waking up to patriarchy and are becoming increasingly ‘stroppy’, a change best characterised by schoolteacher Joan, a woman who seems to constant raise the ire of the guys.

Then there’s latent homosexuality and investigation of the borders of it, best represented by Danny, who in one scene makes suggestions to alpha-male Bernie. But they’re so subtle they go over the guy’s head.

Finally there’s the girl just looking for a decent guy Deborah, who finds out that men haven’t really changed, and ends up back with her old room-mate Joan.

The story isn’t a complicated one, the playwright David Mamet uses his character’s dialogue to drive messages to the audience. And that’s a pity. My main gripe about the play is that sometimes the audience wasn’t permitted to see what I assumed was being intended in the script.

The Bath House was used well, but the plays one act doesn’t allow for a major crisis point to end an Act. Instead, there is a point at which the two love-birds Deborah and Danny have a falling out, and part ways. My impression is that this scene was the pivot on which the play turned, the point at which the irreconcilable differences between the genders was emphasised. But, it seems to have escaped someone. The play drifts over this scene and moves onto the return of Deborah to Joan, and attention switches to the guys hanging out ‘being guys’. Kind of made me wonder if I had read too much into Mamet’s intentions, or whether the emphasis was in fact somewhere else altogether.

Ah well. Thoroughly enjoyable, and a recommendation, should you get a chance to see it in future.

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