Theatreview Weekly: 16/08/2012

Free Load
Skellig
Maria Stuarda
A selection of reviews from Theatreview from the last week including Free Load, Skellig, Maria Stuarda, and Dog and Bone.

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A selection of reviews from Theatreview from the last week including Free Load, Skellig, Maria Stuarda, and Dog and Bone.

See more recent reviews at theatreview.org, the NZ Performing Arts Review & Directory.

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A selection of reviews from Theatreview from the last week including Free Load, Skellig, Maria Stuarda, and Dog and Bone.

See more recent reviews at theatreview.org, the NZ Performing Arts Review & Directory.

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BATS, Wellington - SKELLIG: The fertility of imagination

- reviewed by John Smythe

Reading the publicity material for Skellig – “Michael discovers a dying tramp in the garden shed, and becomes determined to save him. But when Michael discovers wings beneath the tramp’s tatty clothes, the real journey begins…” – reminded me of the 1961 film Whistle Down The Wind (starring Hayley Mills, adapted from the novel by her mother, Mary Hayley Bell, and since recreated as a stage musical).

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Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington - DOG AND BONE: Highly unique community theatre a 'must see'

- reviewed by Helen Sims

Dog and Bone is a follow up to 2010’s The Ragged, part of Te Rakau’s underTOW series, which seeks to shed light on “the legacy and unknown stories” connected with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Although the play follows on from The Ragged in terms of characters and setting, it also firmly stands on its own. Both are set on Wellington’s south coast, at the Kenning homestead ‘Te Miti’, although Dog and Bone leaps forward 19 years to 1869, at the height of war in Taranaki.

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Basement Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland - FREE LOAD: Sci Fi take on illusion, creation, responsibility and what it is to be human
- reviewed by Candice Lewis

The scene is intriguingly set (Grae Burton is the playwright and set designer). Opaque screens drop from ceiling to floor creating a feeling of sterility and containment. The screens play back images, and from the start we see the inflated projection of Mark’s head (Matt Baker).

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Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Hill St, Wellington - MARIA STUARDA: Battle of the Queens opera well worth reviving

- reviewed by Sharon Talbot

What would Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots have said to each other if they'd ever met … before Elizabeth signed Mary's death warrant?! And what would be the result if their confrontation was set to music? The answer is Donizetti's Maria Stuarda – and predictably dramatic it is!

This opera of (mostly) imagined history is intriguing for those interested in the Tudor period and enjoyable for fans of the bel canto ('beautiful singing')style of operatic music. Congratulations are due to producer (and leading lady!) Rhona Fraser for staging this New Zealand premiere of Donizetti's rarely performed gem.

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Q Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland - THE TRIUMPHANTS: Stylish, inventive view of challenging lives

- reviewed by Paul Simei-Barton

Q Theatre's Loft provides an intimate setting for an engaging double-header that offers two sharply contrasting visions of the current state of New Zealand society.

Thomas Sainsbury's And then You Die takes us on a wickedly funny excursion into the head of an under-achieving retail worker who has a compulsive eating disorder and a schizophrenic voice reinforcing her chronically low self esteem.

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Circa Two, Wellington - THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING: Masterly portrayal of loss and survival

- reviewed by Ewen Coleman

How someone deals with the loss of not only their husband but their only daughter within the space of nine months would not be considered by most people as something they would want to see performed on stage.

But American author and writer Joan Didion’s experiences of how she dealt with such a situation, dramatised from her 2005 book, makes The Year of Magical Thinking,Circa Two’s current production, an electrifying piece of theatre.

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ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland - LANGUAGE OF LIVING: Language of living with the New Zealand Dance Company
- reviewed by Bernadette Rae

Diverse, relevant, revealing - a platinum performance indeed!

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Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland - THE PRIDE: ‘Pride’ delves deep to wrench open closed door
- reviewed by Janet McAllister

The timing of this season could not be more serendipitous. The final play in an unofficial Silo Theatre series about oppressed minorities, The Pride adds historical context and emotional insight to the arguments for passing Louisa Wall's member's bill on gay marriage.

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Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland - THE PRIDE: What DOES it mean to be gay?
- reviewed by Rosabel Tan

You want a play to change you. You want it to take you by surprise, to delight you, to hurt you. You want it to whisper in your ear three days later when you’re trying to focus during a staff meeting about strategy and best practice. You want it to be meaningful, in whatever way it intends.

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CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch - MEN IN TUTUS: Charming chaps: charmless venue

- reviewed by Paul Young

Director, choreographer and Dancer Victor Trevino takes the comedy to a tragic limit that should be the bench-mark for the rest of the cast. A veteran of the genre, he has a lovely smile and a talent for expressing the poultry nature of his dying swan.

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Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland - THE PRIDE: Profound perspectives on pride then and now
- reviewed by Lexie Matheson

The Pride, then, provides actors and director with a device that succinctly says what it means – the 2 hour 30 minute journey is never a burden, never seems padded – and does so with a startling emotional intensity, unashamed theatricality and a textual score peppered with wild comedic potential. It’s big stuff, meaty and real, and it matters.

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Circa Two, Wellington - THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING: The gift of truth perfectly pitched

- reviewed by John Smythe

As the audience rises to applaud Catherine Downes’ solo effort, the wonder of it is she has made her 90 minute marathon seem effortless: such is the centred fluency of her beautifully paced and modulated performance, directed by Susan Wilson.

Don’t be put off by the subject matter: grief. This is not an emotive wallow. It’s a character study more than anything ...

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ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland - LIFTOFF!: Engaging youth dancers have a promising future

- reviewed by Raewyn Whyte

This same strategy of interpolating additional dancers has been taken in Sarah Foster Sproull’s much more technically challenging Human Human God, set to a series of dynamically driven and ever changing instrumental segments interspersed with ironic songs by Eden Mulholland . The teenage dancers are all in white and perform alongside the blue clothed dancers of the main company, with cleverly expanded choreography allowing for anywhere from two or three additional dancers up to all seventeen at once. At times the white clothed dancers are wraithlike, massed shadowy presences in the background, adding depth to proceedings by echoing the actions of the others out front, but at times they are the featured dancers , with crisp, clean execution of the tricky moves hinting at their capacity for some exceptional dancing of works made for them in the near future.

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Q, 305 Queen St, Auckland - CIRQUE NON SEQUITUR: Homegrown fetish, fantasy and nightmare with mystery, humour, pathos, menace and gorgeous bodies
- reviewed by Adey Ramsel

Bizarre and brilliant, this dark, sexy cavalcade of burlesque teams up with circus and cabaret to titillate its audience to the edge of their seats.

Just as you think you have the level of the joke, or the measure of the talent on show or the dexterity that sees you gape at the amazing feats performed before your eyes, you realise you know nothing.

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ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland - LANGUAGE OF LIVING: Punching above their weight
- reviewed by Jack Gray

This company, like the others (Black Grace, Footnote, Touch Compass, Atamira) operate on a knifes edge. But as with most things, we have to go back to the essence in order to continue paving the way for our success as well as our excellence. The New Zealand Dance Company has begun with a new starting point from which they can and will now be judged: as all dance artists, do, they exist to reflect New Zealand’s people, place and identity, to sing with their bodies and be a hotbed of creativity and a safe place for the bravery that inspires us, and the audience.

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BATS, Wellington - QUIVER: Unpleasant

- reviewed by Lynn Freeman

I left Quiver feeling grubby. This is a nasty story about three horrible, people doing unspeakable things, with earthquakes as a clunky metaphor for their behaviour. Theatre is a powerful way to unsettle audiences, after all we are trapped in a small space with characters who would terrify us if we met them in an alley.

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BATS, Wellington - SOMEONE LIKE YOU: Delightful honesty

- reviewed by Lynn Freeman

Chaz Harris introduces us to the unlucky in love Will, who is trying to write a book about relationships even though he’s never had one. Young, gay and prone to falling for the wrong men, he feels doomed to a life of celibacy.

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St James Theatre, Wellington - THE TOWER SEASON OF CINDERELLA: Bravo the ballet
- reviewed by Deirdre Tarrant

Cinderella is everyone’s fairy tale dream, sumptuous, magical and beautiful. Rags to riches, cruel in-family fighting, beauty conquers all and happy ever after are the timeless ingredients for fantasy, and this was a real evening of swirling escapism.

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Circa One, Wellington - WEST END GIRLS: Theatrical event

- reviewed by Lynn Freeman

The real life experiences of British artist Barbara Tate when she became the maid of the Queen of Soho in post war London, made for a best selling book which Ken Duncum has adapted for the stage, and David O’Donnell has crafted into a theatrical event.

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Gallagher Concert Chamber, Wel Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University, Hamilton - WAKA: Fast paced, dynamic and at times exhausting to watch
- reviewed by Brenda Rae Kidd

There is no denying the theme in Ieremia’s Waka. While identifiably Polynesian, favourable international reviews testify the message is universal. We all seek to better our lot, don’t we, but at what cost? Do our values change or do we stay true to humanity?

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Q Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland - THE TRIUMPHANTS: Jet black comedy and a superlative debut triumph together
- reviewed by Stephen Austin

An evening of two completely contrasting solo works: one fully devised by the performer in its first ever public outing, the other extensively workshopped by an established playwright through several versions. Both seemingly have nothing to relate them, although the title of the whole evening signals that they both share a common ground of celebrating triumphs, both mundane and earth-shattering, tiny and huge.

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See more recent reviews at theatreview.org.nz, the NZ Performing Arts Review & Directory

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Written by

Theatreview

16 Aug 2012

Interests Theatreview is the New Zealand Performing Arts Review & Directory.

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