A Christmas Karel Capek

December 9th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A wacky and funny 90 minutes Christmas production at Bats Theatre.

The Bacchanals produce a fast moving, self deprecating show which is a combination of A Christmas Carol and Dr Who.

It starts with Bri and David playing themselves, having a lonely meal. Bri just wants a fridge for Christmas, or maybe even David. David though wants something else Рa robot. He designs one, and calls it Bri. How does human Bri and robot Bri get on? What happens when human Bri also builds a robot?

As a huge fan of Isaac Asimov, I was pleased they referenced his three (or four) laws of robotics, namely:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Bri alters the first one though to be “A robot may not injure a human being, unless they are¬†a dick“. Is this significant?

Eventually the two main robots get joined by a cast of many, including C3P0 and a Dalek. Also Father Christmas appears.

There’s lot of in jokes – at themselves, at Circa, at Ray Henwood, at Theateview. They break the fourth wall continually,¬†and engage the audience.

For most of the show you wonder if it is a series of gags, but in the final scenes they bring it together well with a nice moral message.

I found it a great way to unwind at the end of a working week. Recommended for anyone who likes youthful humour and robots.

Rating: ****

A Collection of Noises

November 4th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A Collection of Noises is a one woman show at Bats produced by Alexander Sparrow, whom wrote and starred in the very funny De Sade (2014 Fringe Festival).

This was a very different play, although still at the some what disturbing end of the spectrum.

It’s a Grand-Guignol inspired psychological horror about a troubled school age girl who has a bizarre relationship with her mother, but also gets betrayed by her best friend.

The set when you walk in, looks like a stalker’s lair. Dozens of black and white photos of the girls hanging up.

At first Alice (Georgia Latief ) talks about her mother  and just deceased grandfather, but mixed in with that is the situation at school, and her lack of date for the school formal. She talks directly to the audience at times, accusing us of being almost being voyeurs.

As the betrayal by her best (and only) friend occurs, the focus turns more on their relationship and you see the thin line between love and hate. It becomes apparent it will end badly for someone, but whom and how?

It was a very dark production, and superbly acted. You do get engrossed in the plot, and have many moments of suspense as it builds towards the climax. But be warned – this is a dark production. It won’t be for everyone.

My one criticism would be that I would have liked to see the rather twisted relationship with the mother explored more. It seemed to have great potential, and while it was important to the show, I think even more could have done with it.

It’s on at Bats Theatre until Saturday 7 November 2015.

Rating: ***1/2



May 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Lysistrata is a very old play, performed by a very new cast, at Bats Theatre.

The play was first performed 2,426 years ago in Athens, produced by Aristophanes – a comic playwright who wrote 30 plays. 11 of them survive today.

Lysistrata is based on one woman’s (Lysistrata) effort to end the¬†Peloponnesian War, by persuading the women of Greece to stop having sex with their husbands to force them to negotiate peace. I guess the flaw in the plan should be that they’ll probably just start having sex with each other (they call it Greek style for a reason!), but we’ll overlook that.

The play is put on by The Bacchanals, in a 90 minute production.  The cast of 12 skillfully interlace a very old comedy, with some modern references. It combines into a very fun show.

Ancient Greek comedy is very dirty and far from subtle, and so was this production. It most definitely is not a play for children or people offended by large artificial penises and/or profane language. It also has some nudity.

The nude (well topless) scene was slightly discordant for me. I’ve been to lots of shows with nudity with no problem, but in this show I slightly know the actress concerned, and when it happened I near-automatically started looking everywhere around the theatre except at the stage. ¬†It was interesting how you react differently to nudity of strangers and someone you know.

The show is pretty faithful to the original,¬†but has a feminist and pacifist theme running through it. You don’t need to agree with the politics, to enjoy the show – in fact quite the opposite.

It’s on in the Dome at Bats Theatre until Saturday 6 June. Makes for a fun bawdy night out.

Comedy Festival: Spyfinger!

May 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to Spyfinger! at Bats last night. Was my first time there since their massive renovations (thanks Sir Peter Jackson) and it looks great. A larger and better located bar and multiple venues.

Spyfinger! is a parody of spy films, and they carried off their show with charm and a near zero budget. They are to theatre, what Southpark is to animation – done on the cheap, but very funny.

Instead of using actual special effects, they just verbalise them. So when in Iceland, and playing an Icelander they just say “Icelandic, Incelandic, Icelandic”. It actually works and is very funny.


It’s a cast of three – Hannah Banks, Alex Greig and Paul Waggott, directed by Uther Dean.

In a sixty minute performance they entertain through a series of puns and scenes. Some highlights:

  • The villain showing¬†the various torture methods, including torture by revealing Games of Thrones spoilers. The look of anguish on the hero’s face is priceless.
  • Managing to work into the script a reference to the title of every James Bond movie ever made
  • The skydiving scene – played out on the floor
  • The final line of the¬†show
  • The references to ponytails
  • The slow motion fight scenes

It’s a fun wee show that doesn’t take itself seriously. If you’re a James Bond fan, you’ll enjoy this. It’s on Saturday 9 May, every evening at 7 pm.

Karen and her Fellow Sinners

June 7th, 2013 at 8:38 am by David Farrar

Enjoyed a cool jazz show at Bats Theatre last night, called Karen and her Fellow Sinners.

Karen Anslow does a funny and talented routine of 14 songs ranging from Lover Man to Paint It Black. The show is called a musical celebration of love, lust and longing and it definitely has all three. As always, be careful of sitting in the front row if you’re a bloke!

Event detail_Karen 2

The three band members provide a great musical backup to Anslow’s singing. She combines a sultry voice with a captivating presence.

The show only lasted an hour, and I was dissapointed when it finished. If you’re enjoy jazz and are looking for a fun night out tonight or tomorrow, worth going to.

The show is part of the Jazz Festival.

The ImpoSTAR

December 7th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

When I saw Jason Chasland perform with the Beat Girls at Circa, I blogged:

So how do you beat the Beat Girls? Simple ‚Äď you add in¬†Jason (Jay) Chasland.

Chasland was a rock and roll star.  At first glance you might think he is an unlikely star being not very tall and slightly chubby. But my God he was a great performer. He sang and crooned the songs marvelously, and had a real charisma and presence about him. His Ray Charles parody was side sidesplittingly funny. Chasland alone would be worth going to see.

I got my wish. For 75 minutes last night at Bats Theatre Chasland did a solo show that was terrific.

Chasland has incredible vocal ability. He can sing in the style of pretty much everyone – from Elvis to Julie Andrews to Lady Gaga to Johnny Cash. We saw and heard all those and dozens more last night.

Not only does he sing as them, but he mimics them so well. His facial expressions are priceless, and he dives in and out of his six suitcases on stage to grabs wigs and clothes galore.

The audience was in near non stop laughter and applause, and as the end of the show he got a rare standing ovation. It really is a great show, and a fun night’s entertainment for almost anyone. He performs until 15 December.

While Chasland is the star and solo performer, I must mention also the excellent use of lighting, props and dry ice to create an excellent environment. The show came together so well.

Especially loved the Barbra Streisand act, as he came out in darkness, and at first all you could see was her nose as he started to sing.

Christmas at the Beehive

December 1st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I went to see Christmas at the Beehive at Bats last night. It ends tonight, which is a pity as I think heaps of people would love to see it.

I only heard about it on Thursday, and purchased a ticket yesterday to see it at 9 pm. The theatre was packed, including a few ministerial staffers I noticed.

There are 17 actors and a number of MPs are lampooned. John Smythes’ review sums it up well:

‘Tis Christmas at the Beehive and all is not well¬†
The charm of John Key is losing its spell 
Winston is restless, his spirits on rocks 
As dead David Lange cracks hearty and mocks.

The three living Davids seek leadership traction 
As bright Grant Robertson taps through the action 
Jacinda Adern is a party-girl stressed 
That Nikki Kaye’s party is thought to be best.

Paula Bennett brings news John Banks’s been arrested¬†
The Johnny and Bill show is now sorely tested 
‚ÄúJihad!‚ÄĚ cries Chris Finlayson, frocked up to go¬†
To the ballet or opera or NZSO.

Hekia Parata strides through her crises 
Rendering her leaders quivering micies 
Mistletoe, though, does make them quite frisky 
While Sir Rob Muldoon takes drams of Win’s whiskey. ¬†

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples 
Have to work hard at not losing their marbles 
While Hone Harawira hovers above 
Fluffing his feathers, both eagle and dove.

Spreading the love with gifts for a new way
Is Russell Norman with Metiria Turei 
While all through the house wafting tinsel around 
Is her worship the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown.

Kanwal Singh Bakshi and Su’a William Sio¬†
Find common ground: gay marriage? A no-no! 
The Pope happens by midst the gay marriage thing 
Just wanting the masses to kiss his ring.

Todd McClay and John Campbell complete the live cast 
‘Though many more names get a serve or a blast.¬†
While patchy there’s brilliance enlightening us all¬†
I say get along: it’s a laugh; have a ball.

The Lange and Muldoon characters were great – captured their voices and personalities so well. Paula Bennett’s character was hilarious. When John Key tells her to sort out WINZ, her answer is “I’m all over WINZ like a cougar at the rugby clubrooms”.

The duet by Bakshi and Sio has you in stiches.

Any MP who watches it is sure to be offended by the character portraying them, but enjoy all the other characters! No one escapes unscathed.

The Pope even make an appearance, backed by the Imperial Death March music from Star Wars.

White Cloud

September 13th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

White Cloud is on at Bats Theatre until Sat 22 September. It consists of around a dozen songs by Tim Finn, blended in with stories and observations from two actions. It was sort of like a narrated mini-concert.

It is all about NZ identity, and the stories and songs are ones you can relate to, and bring back memories of childhood. One of them summed up our lack of clear cultural identity amusingly with the line “If you don’t know what you are, you’re probably a Pakeha”. Australians, Americans, Brits, French, Germans etc all have such clear cultural identities. New Zealanders tend to almost define ourselves as whom we are not – we’re not British, we’re not Australian, we’re not American etc.

The two actors who narrated the performance were Dena Kennedy and Stephen Lovatt. Fans of Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby may recall Kennedy as the social studies and history teacher. Both Lovatt and Kennedy did a good job of weaving a narrative around the songs and relating it to the audience. They were engaging and interesting.

A five piece band performed the Finn music. The standout performer was Lisa Crawley. Crawley performed¬†spectacularly¬†well on the vocals, and was very agile on the keyboard. I’d happily pay just to see her perform alone. She enjoyed performing, and it showed.

The brass and percussion players were excellent also, and had a huge variety of instruments they utilized. The main male vocalist was more patchy. The first song saw a real contrast between him and Crawley which I found discordant. After that though, he improved and the remaining songs went well.

It was a simple and effective set, with six semi-transparent screens hanging down which old photos and videos were displayed on, as a subtle background to the performance. It’s directed by one of my favourite directors Simon Bennett – who co-founded Bats.

The performance started at 9 pm, and goes for around 70 minutes. If you’re a fan of good NZ music, you should enjoy the production.

The Dom Post has a story on it, and John Smythe at Theatreview does a much more detailed review of it.

Death by Cheerleader

September 21st, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I was in the office yesterday and mentioned to some of the staff that I was off to Death by Cheerleader this evening. I got a variety of puzzled looks until I explained it was a play at Bats Theatre.

The play was hilarious. It would be near impossible not to enjoy it. It’s rated R16, and certainly not one to take the kids to.

Let’s start with the three “Cheer Blacks”. Lucy (left) played by Claire van Beek is the first Cheer Black you meet. From the beginning she doesn’t seem quite right, and why does she have an ankle bracelet? You learn that when she develops a crush, boy does she develop a crush. In fact one could label her love as being of the psychotic variety.

van Beek is marvellous playing Lucy. She has perfected the art of the naughty satisfied grin as she is doing something inappropriate. She really brings her character to life.

Lucy is recruited by Jessica (not Jess) to join the Cheer Blacks. Jessica is 40 going on 28. She refuses to accept her age, despite having a teenage daughter. Her life ambition is to bed All Black hero Tane, and her route to achieve this is to have the Cheer Blacks attend the Rugby World Cup in Dubai in 2015. Amy Waller plays Jessica (and is also the playwright) and will let nothing stand in her way.

The third member of the trio is Dakota played by Julia Hyde. Dakota is the relatively normal, or even sane, one. Her burden in life is being Jessica’s daughter.

I read in the notes for the show that the original intention was to have it portray cheerleaders as noble beings, but in the end they found it too hard so went for funny, bitchy and dark. I’m glad they did, because the combination works.

My favourite line of dialogue was

He was hurting you

No he wasn’t

He was hurting you with his penis!

As we all the acting, the Cheer Blacks also well, cheer. They perform a number of funny, energetic routines to great applause from the audience.

This play is more than just a series of laughs though. Yes the dialogue is hilarious, but the acting, the choreography, the subtle and not so subtle hints all combine brilliantly.

Death by Cheerleader is on until Saturday 24 September only. If you have a spare hour between now and then, go along – it’s a load of laughs, and very decently priced (even if you don’t get review tickets).