The Bloody Benders

February 20th, 2014 at 10:07 pm by David Farrar

Just got back from seeing the Bloody Benders at the Fringe Festival. A really great show, that has mass appeal. Some fringe shows are an acquired taste, but this one will appeal to almost everyone.

The blurb is:

What’s a love-struck teenage serial killer to do, when your next victim seems to be the love of your life? And on top of that, your mother talks too much, your dad doesn’t talk enough and your brother hangs on every word you say. Some things are just a little too close for comfort and Kate Bender Jr. soon finds out that growing up in a household where murder is the family business is deadlier than any weapon she’s ever wielded. Inspired by a true story, The Bloody Benders, an exciting new horror-comedy presented by the Killer Darlings Collective promises to deliver pure escapist theatre with a side serving of emotional heft. 

The play is based on a real family of serial killers.

The two Kates are the stars of the show. Kate Jr (played by Kate Hounsell) does the menancing crazed look so well, while Kate Sr (played by Hannah Kelly) is superb as the slightly out of it mother.  The mother – daughter fights are superbly done, with pouting, face pulling and sighs.

David Williams has a brief role in the beginning as Hank McCoy and Jonathan Harris plays the father, John Bender. A major role was also played by Ben Emerson whose relationship with Kate Jr was teasingly played out. Emerson was excellent in portraying a nervous suitor.

There are a couple of yucky and shocking twists, but they just add to the fun.  Most of the audience were laughing throughout the play, and it got a great reception at the end.

As I said some fringe shows are, well a bit fringe. This show has real mainstream appeal and if you want to see it, its final night is tomorrow (Friday) night.

My only complaint was that the venue (Museum of City and Sea) wasn’t set up ideally with no elevated stage for the actors, which meant it was a bit hard to see some of the action from the back.

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De Sade

February 20th, 2014 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Went to see De Sade at the Fringe Festival last night, along with Striker. Jadis was in town also so we grabbed a third ticket. The blurb for the show is:

de Sade, a tour through the depths of the darkest mind that ever existed, premieres as part of the 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival and will be performed from 19-22 February at the Cavern Club Allen Street. Alexander Sparrow – writer and comedian – will become the Marquis de Sade for four nights only. For everything you need to know about fetishism, sadism, and everything in between, de Sade will give you your fill on the writer of 120 Days of Sodom and Juliette.

Sparrow says, “The Marquis spent most of his life in prison, but imagine if he hadn’t. Imagine a school of sadism and rioting. This show will divide the masses – he wanted a republic, he wanted complete sexual freedom, he wanted a world that was impossible to build for the destruction it would cause.”

A comedian and writer on the Wellington circuit, Sparrow’s show is going to be a insane mix of sadistic acts, fetishism, history, and wit. “de Sade wasn’t just disgusting – he could be hilarious and cheeky too. There’s more to him than his books.” 

This is an hour of chaotic ecstasy from the king of sadism himself. It’s time to tear apart society and screw in the streets. It’s time to rid ourselves of the monarchy. “It’s time, dear reader, to have a little fun.” 

You descend into the Cavern Club and the first thing you note is the naked man lying on the table at the front of the room. We sensibly decide not to sit in the front row and enjoy the couch at the back.

Sadly for the women in the audience the nudity is temporary, which is possibly not a bad thing as Sparrow’s mother and sister were in the audience. We learn this as the Marquis talks about how he would like to have sex with everyone in the audience (and then breaking the wall mentions he didn’t realise his mother and sister would be here).

Sparrow does a fun charismatic portrayal of the Marquis. He rants against his mother-in-law who got him committed, and talks about the awfulness of a man so devoted to sexual pursuits being locked in prison by himself for most of his life.

In case it is not obvious from the show blurb, this is not a show for prudes or shrinking violets. We see his masturbation calendar where he indicates he has had to masturbate 400 times in the last six months. He the admits that when you break it down to a daily basis, it isn’t that impressive!

The audience get pulled into the show in various ways. At one point he is talking about his novel Justine. Jadis helpfully offered that the book is too long (1000 pages) and his eyes light up at having found an audience member who has (presumably) read the book. This leads to him asking Jadis to go up on stage and beat him with a crop. The unfortunate thing for the Marquis is that Jadis is a former provincial cricketer and can swing a bat quite well. After a couple of painful blows, he substitutes her for his mother!

During one part of the show he exhorts the audience to look at the person next to you, find some features that are attractive, and tell them what they are and how much you would like to have sex with them. This pushed Striker and I into fits of laughter, as she works for me, and I’m pretty sure a conversation along the lines of that proposed by the Marquis would breach a number of employment laws! He later asked if Jadis and I were married, and I explained that the three of us worked together and this was a work outing. He said he was very keen to come work at Curia also!

So the show was lots of fun, and the audience participation hilarious. Despite what you may think, it was a bit tame. I think Sparrow could have pushed the boundaries more. The first segment was a bit slow to warm up also. But Sparrow did well to keep the audience engaged and laughing, and slightly nervous. It was a fun classic Fringe show.

The show ends with him answering the question whether he has regrets and whether given the chance he would do it differently. I’ll leave it to you to find out the answer, if you go to the show. It’s on for three more nights.

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The 7 person chair pyramid high wire act

February 14th, 2014 at 3:36 pm by David Farrar

I went along to The 7 person chair pyramid high wire act at Puppies Bar on Tory Street on Wednesday Night. The blurb is:

In the wilds of Siberia, Charles Darwin goes off in search of the Yeti. The Yeti (if she exists) enters a radio station’s dance contest, hoping to win an all-expenses-paid vacation to a place that doesn’t exist yet. Darwin’s research companion—a little brown bat—falls in love with the radio station’s electromagnetic emissions—but how could that ever end happily? Meanwhile, Siberia’s caves are home to a secretive tribe of ropemakers—but their disintegrating family structure may cause their ancient craft to be lost forever. Through the lens of the real life allegory of the Flying Wallendas’ famous high-wire act, two performers on a tiny stage unfold Darwin’s laboratory, unfurl anatomic diagrams of the yeti, and try to tease out the difference between miracles and non-miracles.

The fringe festival show was at Puppies Bar, which is a very small and intimate bar on the corner of Tory and Vivian Street. Quite nice to be able to watch it from comfortable couches.

The show is performed from a sort of Punch and Judy style box. Both the actor and actress are clad in wonderfully garish lycra, which makes her claim to be the electromagnetic spectrum quite plausible.

The show was amusing and ridiculous in equal parts. I enjoyed it, but the overall message it was trying to send was somewhat laboured and it never really got me engaged.  It was a bit too abstract for me, but will appeal to those who are into more symbolic productions. The acting was good, and both leads had a quirky charisma about them. I enjoyed the ending about the The Flying Wallendas, but overall wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

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A play about fear

February 12th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

A play about fear is showing at Circa Theatre as part of the Fringe Festival.

It’s a quirky and hilarious 65 minute production about, well, fear.

I wasn’t sure if it would be very good at first. The first few minutes are a segment called Freak Accidents with the cast acting out different situations involving fear from sharks to serial killers. But around a third of the way through the play a discrete plot line emerges around the Cult of William. I won’t give too much away, but the plot is very funny, and there’s some superb acting.

The set is basically an inflatable paddling pool and five lightbulbs, but they use them to ingenious effect. There’s one particular scene with the paddling pool which is especially hilarious (hint it is deflated).

The actress who plays the pseudo-lead, Charlotte, does an excellent job with her character.

As I said, I wasn’t sure how good the show would be around 15 minutes into it. It was funny, but wasn’t quite sure where it was going. But as the plot unfolds, the humour intensifies and the overall experience is excellent. A great fringe show.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

January 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Wolf of Wall Street, a controversial tale of financial greed, orgies and drug-taking starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has set a record for profanity in a major Hollywood movie.

It uses the F-word 506 times during its 180-minute running time – that’s once every 21 seconds.

The Martin Scorsese-directed film, a blockbuster hit in Kiwi cinemas this summer, eclipsed the previous record held by Spike Lee’s 1999 movie Summer of Sam, which notched up 435 mentions, according to Variety, the entertainment industry trade publication.

I saw The Wolf of Wall Street on Friday night in Hamilton, and loved it. A three hour movie is either going to be great or unendurable. It was the former. Just cracked up laughing so often. The highlight or lowlight was when the future wife of the Jordan Belfort walks into a party.

Funnily enough I didn’t even notice the profanity. Maybe it is partly because the F work hardly registers as a shocking word anymore (unless used directly at someone) but partly because it just fitted the environment the film depicted.

Some people will hate this film, but most people will love it.


An officer and a spy

November 15th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Managed to read An Officer and A Spy on Wednesday while flying to and from Auckland. It’s a novel by Robert Harris, based on the Dreyfus Affair.

Harris is an excellent novelist. Fatherland is the novel he is probably most well-known for. He has also written some very good historical fiction books around Pompeii and Cicero.

I had been generally aware of the Dreyfus Affair, but not to any great detail. Harris brings it to life, with his novel written from the point of view of Georges Picquart.

Two things struck me while reading the novel.

The first was how horrendous the gross miscarriage of justice was that saw Dreyfus convicted on next to no evidence, but even worse how the Army used forgeries and worse to persist in trying to prove he was a traitor, and the malice against those who produced evidence to the contrary. Even worse was that they then moved to protect the real traitor, just so they would not have to admit they were wrong.

The second is the extent of antisemitism in France 100 years ago. The Holocaust perpetuated by the Nazis did not come about in a vacuum. Antisemitic sentiments were strong in many parts of Europe, and people were quite happy to see an innocent patriotic solider rot in an island prison just because he was a Jew.

Anyway if you’re a student of history, I can recommend the book as an excellent read.



November 5th, 2013 at 9:20 am by David Farrar

Con is a New Zealand play, written by Gavin McGibbon and directed by Danny Mulheron.

The plot is simple, yet complicated. It’s about two con-men, a girl and a victim. But who is conning who? Without giving too much away, prepare for double, triple and quadruple crosses. Nothing is quite like what it seems.

The two con-men are Earl and Stevie, played by Paul McLaughlin and Mike Minogue respectively. You get introduced to them as Stevie is on the phone to some elderly householder convincing her that her computer is infected with a virus, and telling her how he can help her fix it for a small fee. As she is thanking him profusely for helping save her from a non-existent problem, I reflected how sadly accurate and common that scenario is.

The playwright got the inspiration for this play when his Facebook account got hacked and a scammer posted to his page that he had been mugged and robbed in the Philippines and needed money to be deposited into a bank account to help him get home.

But Earl and Stevie have plans well beyond a common Internet scam. They planned to rip off a charity for a six figure sum of money, and not just any charity but CanTeen – can anything be worse than scamming a charity to help teenagers with cancer.

CON by Gavin McGibbon. Directed by: Danny Mulheron. Circa Theatre, 26 October to 23 November 2013. Wellington, New Zealand.

Photo by Stephen A’Court

Complicating things is the entry of Holly, played by Acushla-Tara Sutton. At first she’s just a pick up in a bar, but it gets more serious. And what does it mean for Stevie when he finds out something personal about her? And how did Stevie end up a scammer? He was once a hero. What was his fall from grace, and is there a path back?

Jason Whyte completes the cats playing the victim, Jeffery, and a couple of minor roles.

The play kept you guessing throughout. There were numerous twists and turns, and not all of them easy to predict. Who was putting on and act, and who wasn’t? The characters were likeable, despite their activities, and you wanted to see how it all ends.

Quite rarely for me, I did think the play could have benefited from being a little longer. It’s 90 minutes long, and I would have liked to have seen more of Stevie’s background, but also more of how the main scam went down and the reaction to it.  It was a bit disjointed at times.

But that didn’t take away from it being a very enjoyable play, which kept you engaged throughout. The acting was excellent, and a nice satisfying ending – for some!

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October 1st, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Midsummer, at Circa, is a wickedly funny play. I laughed almost non stop during it.

Kate Byron Doorway_lowres

Photo by Yael Gezentsvey 

Kate Prior and Byron Coll play Bob and Helena. Helena is a lawyer and Bob a petty crim. They tell the story of how they met, and met again, and eventually their weekend of blowing $15,000 of cash embezzled from a local crime lord.

The scene of the initial hookup in the bar is hilarious, as their different interpretations of how it happened unfold.

Both Prior and Coll perform some songs as part of the play, but it is their acting which is just superb. They both played their roles with near comic genius. Kate Prior especially was spectacular when playing some of the minor characters such as the local crime lord ( Big Tiny Tam Callinan). Her Scottish accent, her eyes and her screwed up face were just a delight. Coll was excellent also.

They navigate a sister’s wedding (which ends with her 12 year old nephew declaring that Helena said it will only last a year as they met on the Internet), a failed bank deposit for the crime lord, and a visit to a local fetish club where they are left tied up most of the night by accident!

The set is worth a mention also. Simple yet effective with a series of boxes being used to create beds, steps, couches etc. And on the back wall you are intrigued by all the props hanging there which get used at some stage.

There are some serious themes to the play – Bob turning 35 and Helena’s failed previous relationship compared to her sister getting married. But the seriousness never gets in the way of a thumping good time.

The latter half of the play is slightly slower than the first half, but at 95 minutes in total you never get bored – far from it. My co-reviewer commented:

One of its singular charms is definitely its exuberant physicality. Both actors make such great use of all the stage, and undertake such acutely accurate and incredibly funny metamorphoses – into children, thuggish crims etc (let’s not forget the talking cock!). But as well as all the laughs, there was such a sweet poignancy to the recognisable lives and rites of engagement of the protagonists. The songs sung (and strummed) by the actors seemed to heighten both the energy and fun of the play as well as its tender intimacy and truth telling. What a rich and satisfying entertainment – all that laughing over all the clever (perfectly Scottish-accented) dialogue brought to life in such a masterly way by the actors.

Not a play for young kids, but definitely a play I can recommend to any adults wanting a great night out.

Midsummer is also reviewed at Theatreview.

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No Naughty Bits

September 24th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

No Naughty Bits is a play about a copyright lawsuit, specifically Gilliam v. American Broadcasting. Now you might wonder why anyone would see a play about a copyright dispute, but when you realise Gilliam is Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame, and the lawsuit was about ABC editing their shows in such a way that they were basically no longer funny, and hence it damaged their reputations, then the appeal becomes clear.

Monty Python were the comic geniuses of my generation, and their influence on comedy has been compared to the influence of The Beatles on Music. I can recite the script of Life of Brian almost word perfect, having viewed it over a dozen times.

Andrew Foster plays Michael Palin, the lead character in the play. He nails the part, as you can almost believe it is the real Michael Palin there at times. A wigged Gavin Rutherford plays Terry Gilliam to some great comic effect.

The other stand out actor for me was Stephen Papps as Judge Lasker.

No Naughty Bits by Steve Thompson. Directed by: Ross Jolly. Circa Theatre, 14 September to 12 October 2013. Wellington, New Zealand.


Photo by Stephen A’Court

The play is an engaging exploration of comedy, US vs UK differences, creative types vs executives and more.

It isn’t a recital of famous Monty Python lines, even though a fair few of them do make an appearance. It is about the right of a bunch of iconic comedians to say to a network that if you edit us so we no longer think it reflects our work, we want the right to withdraw permission to use our work. Through that you get to hear of the many edits ABC tried to make, and why. You are of course always on the side of the Pythons as they fight for their gags to remain. You do also however have some sympathy for the studio as dealing with a bunch of stubborn creatives can be a challenge to put it mildly.

If you are a Monty Python fan, you won’t want to miss No Naughty Bits. And if you are not a Monty Python fan, well you don’t know what you have missed out on!

Threatreview also has a review.

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The Price

August 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Price is another Arthur Miller classic, with an excellent production put on by Circa Theatre.

It’s s small cast of just four, focusing on the relationship between two estranged brothers who have had no contact for 16 years. They finally come together to dispose of their long dead father’s possessions, which have been in storage for 16 years. The planned destruction of his old building has meant their shared history is resurrected, in a tense dramatic performance.

The Price 10 bigger


Photo by Stephen A’Court

Victor and Walter Franz are brothers, played by Gavin Rutherford and Christopher Brougham respectively. Victor is a poorly paid police officer whose wife resents their modest means. He was a gifted science student, but never had the opportunity to do tertiary education as he was caring for and supporting his father.

Walter is the seemingly successful brother, a fabulously wealthy doctor. The reasons for his estrangement with Victor are only hinted at initially, but laid out in the second act.

Jude Gibson played Victor’s wife Esther. She is almost ashamed of her husband’s lowly paid job, and doesn’t like him wearing his police uniform when off duty as it tells everyone how much he earns.

Finally you have what was for me the star of the show, Ray Henwood at the 89 year old Jewish antique dealer. Henwood was fantastic, and his performance alone is worth seeing the show for. A comedy delight.

All four cast played their roles well, with each character having sympathetic and unsympathetic traits. Your views on them change as the show goes on. The only slight negative was that the relationship between Victor and Esther wasn’t clear at the beginning, and you spend a fair bit of time trying to work it out.

The first half of the show, as is often the case, wasn’t as captivating as the second half. It made up for that with plenty of laughs from Ray Henwood’s character. There was also some added drama with a noticeable earthquake during the first half. Let me tell you a crowded theatre is not a nice place to be during an earthquake. The cast however just carried on with barely a pause, as the audience turned pale and started to look wistfully at the exits. Luckily the quake was relatively brief.

The second half is where the conflict is laid out in full, and there are twists and turns you don’t expect. The ending is a good one, albeit not the one I expected.

The Price is on until 7 September. If you like Arthur Miller’s other plays, you’ll like this one also.

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Book of Mormon

August 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Book of Mormon tickets are sold out almost up to a year in advance, unless you pay around US$450 a ticket for premium tickets. On our first day in New York we checked the theatre out and by chance they were having their daily lottery, where for half an hour you enter into a draw and 11 sets of 2 tickets are drawn out, which you can buy for $32 only. There’s over 200 people queued up, so your chances are around 5%, and we didn’t win.

We saw Chicago instead, which was really good. But didn’t give up on seeing Book of Mormon, and so I headed down early Saturday morning to queue up and see if any tickets were available from overnight cancellations. Jackpot – there were. I managed to get two tickets in the very middle of the theatre just six rows from the front. Perfect. And the tickets were at a more affordable price, so all go.

The show was the funniest show I have ever been to in my life, and probably ever will go to. I can’t undersell how great it was – not just the humour, but the sets, the costumes, the script, the acting, the music. At the end of the show, all 1,100 in the audience gave a huge standing ovation.


The musical won nine Tony awards, and was called the best musical of this century by a New York Times reviewer. It is by far the hardest show on Broadway to get tickets for.

The show was created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker of Southpark fan. However it is definitely not a musical version of Southpark. It is about two Mormon missionaries – the charismatic one with the huge future and the nerdy overweight one. Elder Price (The former one) is sure he is going to be posted to Orlando (his dream location) but instead gets Uganda with Elder Cunningham.

Their attempts to get the locals interested in the Book of Mormon, are hilarious. A highlight is when they are telling the locals how God cursed the Lamanites with black skin so they would not be so enticing to the Nephites (which is in the Book of Mormon). As their all black audience stares at them, they stutter and suggest they skip that part.

The villagers are more worried about AIDs, a local warlord that wants to circumcise all the women in the village, famine and poverty. Their way of coping with such gloom is to sing and chant “Hasa Diga Eebowai”. The mormon elders join in until they ask what it means and get told “Eebowai” means “God and “Hasa Diga” means “Fuck you”.

But don’t think this is an anti-mormon, or even anti-religious show. While it does mock and lampoon some of the proclamations in the Book of Mormon, it portrays Mormons as very kind well-intentioned people, and at the end of the show you have the villagers saying that they understand the book is about parables and metaphors, and not to be taken literally – so they should follow the intent, if not the the literal word.

The LDS Church has not condoned or condemned the show, and even advertise in the show programme suggesting people try the actual book, as being even better than the musical. It is a rare thing to hilariously lampoon a religion, but to do so in a way that is funny, not nasty, and even respectful in an obtuse way.

As I said, the show was beyond first class. If you plan to be in New York at any stage, then book tickets as far in advance as you can.


The guy on the left is Matt Doyle who played Elder Price. He has a hilarious dream scene where he thinks he gets sent to hell due to his sins, and there he meets Jeffrey Dahlmer, a very gay leather clad Adolph Hitler, Genghis Khan and amusingly famed defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

It’s great the stars come out after the show to do autographs and photos.



This is Cody Jamison Strand, who played Elder Cunningham. He succeeds where no-one else does, in converting the whole village to Mormonism. However he is a pathological liar, and having not read the Book of Mormon, he just invented his own. All goes well, until the LDS President visits to congratulate them, and the local village puts on a performance of their own based on Elder Cunningham’s teachings, without him knowing they planned to do this.

All I’ll say is I’ll never look on frogs the same again!

If Book of Mormon ever tours to New Zealand, I’ll be going again. Hell if I’m in New York again, I’ll try to go again. It really is the musical of the century.


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Yes Prime Minister

July 9th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Around a year ago I purchased tickets for the Wellington production of “Yes, Prime Minister”, based on the famous TV series of the 1980s.

So with great excitement on Friday night I went along to the State Opera House to see the show.

However I left slightly disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a very good show, and I enjoyed it. It is definitely worth seeing if you enjoy politics and humour.

But it was also a reminder of how almost perfect the TV series was. The actors, the scripts, the mannerisms were sublime.

I spent the first 15 minutes of the show thinking that isn’t how Sir Humphrey would speak, that Bernard is too old, and that Jim Hacker not enough of a klutz.

After a while you do get used to the new cast, but they don’t gel quite as well as the originals.

The plot, which is needing a deal with a fictional Middle East state for an oil pipline to bail out Europe is well done, and has some classic elements of the show such as Sir Humphrey trying to sneak past Hacker that the deal will require the UK to join the Euro.

All in all, a good show, and a pleasant reminder of the TV series. But not in the same league.


“C” – A Musical

July 8th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

C – A Musical is a musical about the Big C, or cancer. Paul Jenden is a long-time creative force at Circa, but this time the production was about himself – his battle against chronic lymphocytic leukameia.

It’s a sad topic for a musical, and at parts of the show, you do feel downright depressed. Mortality is not an easy topic. But despite that, the show is also uplifting and great fun.

It’s not a typical musical.  It is described as a play with song and poems.

Danny Mulheron plays Jenden himself, and is captivating and lively. He is so convincing, you would think he really was Jenden, the way he described the chemotherapy, receiving the news etc.



Photo by Stephen A’Court

Beyond any doubt the star is Jackie Clarke who plays the voice inside his head, and sings the songs. Clark is simply fantastic and was a knock out. Her acting, her voice, her costume were all flawless.

Jane Waddell plays Paul’s Mum, who died from cancer also. Some very poignant scenes, but also some funny ones. The one that sticks in my mind is when she is talking to an angel and keeps asking him how much more time she has. He keeps avoiding the question until he finally points out that if you are talking to angels, the answer is pretty obvious!

Sue Alexander does an excellent job on the piano and Louis Solini silently plays Carcinoma most effectively.

On the technical side, the lighting used was done incredibly well. Great use of lights to capture emotions and states.

Most of us know someone who has fought cancer – some successfully, and some not so. The lyrics of “say si si to C” are a statement we can all aspire to.

As I said the play is not a barrel of laughs. At times it is very funny and uplifting. At times very sombre and sad. You ride a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but well worth seeing.

Threatreview also has a review.

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June 17th, 2013 at 7:20 pm by David Farrar

Tu is an intense drama.  A Maori East Coast family is torn apart both emotionally and literally by the shafts of love, strife and war.

The play is based on the novel by Patrica Grace. Old Tu (Tammy Davis) recounts what happened to him and his brothers and family as they went to war in the 1940s.

The three brothers are Philomel, or older brother; Boydie and Tu. They’re played by Jarod Rawiri, Taungaroa Emile and Kimo Houltham respectively. Boydie is the flashy charmer. Philomel is looking forward to life with Jess (Aroha White) and Tu is the typical younger brother. Tina Cook performs wonderfully as their Ma, and Kali Kopae is the at home daughter taking an interest in the US marines stationed in Wellington.

The set is surrounded by audience on both sides of it, making it an unusual viewing experience, as you can see the reactions of those seated opposite.

It’s a hard show to summarise, as so much of it is caught up in the emotional intensity of the scenes. You spend the last 20 minutes almost on the edge of your seat – even though you sort of know the inevitable ending.

A great NZ production, that resonated with the audience.

Also reviewed at Theatreview.


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This House

June 16th, 2013 at 9:17 pm by David Farrar

Just been to The Penthouse Theatre to see National Theatre: This House. It’s filmed version of the play, and if you are into politics, I’d call it a must see.

It is based in the House of Commons from 1974 to 1979 and shows the machinations of both Government and Opposition Whips during that five year period of minority government or very unstable majority Government.

Almost all the events shown are based on real life incidents such as the MP who faked his own death and the Liberal Party leader charged with murdering his gay lover.

The play ends with the 1979 vote of no confidence in the Callaghan government which the Opposition won by 311 to 310.

It is on Monday night at 7 pm and Wednesday morning at 10 am. A three hour show, with an interval. Superbly done and a must see for politicos.


Herald on Fork & Brewer

June 16th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reviews the Fork & Brewer in Wellington:

Tucked away in a former pizza joint just off Wellington’s Willis St, this pub presented me with something of a problem when I first found it. Having been to an event where the troughing and grazing were top-notch, the stairs were a struggle for me.

However, that was the only struggle I had as I found an absolute gem of a bar at the top; a haven for those who love not just great beer but exceptional food as well.

The place is large enough to accommodate both a generous bar area and a quieter dining area, despite having a brewery slap in the middle of it. With 40 beers on tap, you need to give yourself a bit of time when you visit.

The beer selection is nicely democratic, offering mainstream as well as craft versions, which allows the customer to decide what to drink. Among the craft beers are some stand-out drops, like Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale, Yeastie Boys’ Pot Kettle Black and Fuller’s London Pride among many others. The bottled selection is strong, with a nice choice of beers from around the world.

The wine list is well thought-out and handily priced, while the spirits selection is great.

The service is great, too, with attentive, knowledgeable and, best of all, chatty and genuinely funny people behind the stick, making it the sort of place where even a solo drinker can linger.

The food is simply divine. Chef Anton Legg loves beer and it shows in how he uses spent grain from the brewery as an ingredient in his cuisine. He also makes his own vinegars, which are sensational. If you order the glorious hand-cut, spent-grain-slated chips, make sure you request some of the pale ale vinegar to dip them in. Try the spicy chicken wings, too.

I can thoroughly recommend the chicken wings also!

Wellington is packed with great beer bars (something Auckland should be taking note of) and this is a one of the better ones, taking a simple concept – good beer and good food – and turning it into a real art form. Go there, and enjoy, but make sure you don’t have anything on afterwards because you won’t want to leave.


Service: 5
Menu: 5
Drinks: 5
Atmosphere: 5
Overall: 5

You can’t complain about a review like that.

Fork & Brewer is my favourite bar in that area of town. Not only does it have great beer, food and service – it also has power plugs at every table for laptops!

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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.

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After Juliet

May 27th, 2013 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

After Juliet was written by Sharman Macdonald after her 13 year old daughter saw the film version of Romeo and Juliet and asked “What comes next?”. Macdonald’s daughter went on to act in the play itself, and is fairly well known today as Keira Knightley.

I greatly enjoyed the Circa production of After Juliet. It’s a lively sequel to the famous classic. Those with a good memory will recall that before Romeo loved Juliet, he had an unrequited infatuation for Rosaline. It turns out that the infatuation was in fact mutual, but Rosaline was just playing hard to get. Now Romeo is dead, and she blames the Montagues for it.

The play is produced by 1st Gear Productions, and all the cast were aged between 17 and 23. It was a nice showcase of emerging talent.  Neenah Dekkers-Reihana shone as the lead Rosaline. She was feisty and commanding.



Photos by Stephen A’Court

Also a great performance from Sylvie McCreanor who played Bianca. Bianca is a cousin of Juliet who suffers from petit mai seizures, and she is very convincing.

After the deaths of Romeo and Juliet there is a truce between the Montagues and Captulets, laid down by the Prince of Verona. You also have a number of trials of those deemed responsible for their deaths, such as the nurse and the apothecary that sold Juliet the poison.

Rosaline is torn between her lost love, her anger, and another apparently unrequited love interest. She wants the feud to continue, and is challenging to be leader of the “Cats”, the younger members of the Captulets.


The set consists of a corrugated iron fence, a tangled scaffolding type tower where the Montagues gather, and at the bottom of it flowers marking the graves of Romeo and Juliet.

One thing I loved about the play was the mixture of old and new. you had Montagues and Captulets battling it out with swords, while some of the Montague girls were videoing it on their iPhones!  While it is an ancient setting, they used modern devices to get across that this could also be a modern day story.

There were a few good laughs during the play, but mostly it is dramatic tension between the various cast, and most of all to see whether it ends with war or peace – or both.

The play lasted 90 minutes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was good to see a talented cast of younger actors and actresses and a sequel to a Shakespeare classic.

Also reviewed by John Smythe at Threatreview. It is on at Circa 2 until Saturday 8 June.

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May 23rd, 2013 at 6:35 pm by David Farrar

LG had a little expo down at Chaffers Wharf yesterday. I popped in for a bit, to see what they were promoting. I knew I’d be interested in the TVs, but to my surprise also found myself interested in one of their washing machines.



Yes that is a washing machine balanced on four wine glasses, and yes they demonstrated in action on a spin cycle, and it didn’t move at all. Whomever came up with the idea of demonstrating its lack of movement and vibrations with balancing it on wine glasses did well.

LG use a direct drive motor in their washing machines, and it really does make them both very quiet and also relatively still. I felt the machine as it was working, and you really just pick up minor vibrations from it – way different to most washers.

What I was really there to see though was this:



Ignore the reflection that makes this a bad photo, and try to concentrate on the colour. This is their 84 inch ultra high definition TV.

The picture quality is an incredible eight million pixels, four times the normal high resolution. And trust me you can tell the difference. The quality is superb. The resolution is 3840 x 2160.

It also does 3D television. We watched a few minutes of Life of Pi, and it really was just as good as watching it in the cinema.

The TVs are $25,000 so really for pubs and bars or commercial offices. They will be rolling out a 55 inch model later this year, and are pricing it up at the moment.

The 84 inch TV is 2.8 times the area of an 50 inch TV. Not one for a small apartment!

All the TVs there now come with an ethernet port and built in WIFI. Clearly the future is TVs running programmes off the Internet or local computers. My only worry is what many GB would a one hour TV show be at ultra high resolution – can anyone do the sums?

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Midnight in Moscow

May 21st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Midnight in Moscow, at Circa, is a lively story of love, loyalty and politics. It is set in the NZ Embassy in the USSR in 1947. At times it is a bit like a murder mystery, but instead of working out who was the killer, it is more who was the spy?

You also get intrigued by whether that gay man and the young girls’ blossoming friendship may in fact be something for her aunt to worry about. Will the wife find out her husband’s affair with the mistress of Boris Pasternak?

There is of course a political theme to the play, as expected from playwright Dean Parker. Young Madeleine (played by Chelsea Bognuda) have a naive appreciation of the wonders of the worker’s paradise. Her aunt, and head of mission, June (Carmel McGlone) lays out the reality of what the Soviet Union was really about – political prisoners and repression.

Other embassy staff have some surprising views, which reveal themselves during the play.

The star of the show for me was Gavin Rutherford as the witty, urban, flamboyant and promiscuous Kit. His character provides many of the laughs. he provides the signature quote from E M Forster “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country”. Stephan Papps also excels as Boris Pasternak.

Jon Pheloung and Jessica Robinson play husband and wife Hugh and Sophie. Hugh is helping the famous Boris Pasternak  translate Doctor Zhivago into English, and also having an affair with Boris’ mistress Olga (Miranda Manasiadis). Hugh’s character is based on NZ diplomat Patrick Costello, who was suspected of being a Soviet spy. The debate continues today as to whether he was. For my 2c I think he was.

There is a chilling moment when Pasternak gets a phone call from Moscow, and it turns outs to be Stalin himself. This is of course based on real life, and I’d encourage people to read the awful treatment of Pasternak and other authors under the USSR.



Photo by Stephen A’Court

Parker has crafted a very clever play that shows how awful the USSR was (and certainly was not an apologist for it as a Herald review suggested). There were also some lovely moments such as when the three female staff rehearsed for their role in The Mikado, bing out on by the British Council.

I enjoyed the play, but I did have a couple of criticisms.


The set was very well done, but I found the suits worn by the men (especially Kit) did not look anything like the 1940s. They looked like very modern suits. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by how well shows like Mad Men get the look and feel of an older era so well, but the suits did jar with me, as not fitting into the era.

Another minor point was the idea that a woman would be head of delegation in 1947. I know of course that a play is fiction, but again it made it harder to get into the play. The best plays are where you forget it is a play, and you are one the edge of your seat wondering how it will all end.

I also like a play that grabs your attention at the beginning, and found the opening monologue didn’t quite do that. Also the poetry scene with Hugh and Pasternak went on a bit too long for my simple tastes. The play lasted two hours 15 minutes (plus a 15 minute interval). I thought the first half dragged on a bit and could have been shorter or brisker. The second half though was much more enjoyable, and overall was a very good production.

John Smythe at Theatreview has also reviewed the play. It runs at Circa One until Saturday 8 June.

UPDATE: I am informed that in fact the head of delegation in 1947 was indeed a woman, so wasn’t NZ progressive!

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Review: Ewen Gilmour’s Midlife Circus – San Francisco Bathhouse Wellington

May 8th, 2013 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Review: Ewen Gilmour’s Midlife Circus – San Francisco Bathhouse Wellington

By Dave’s Flatmate

 I don’t know about you but I seriously can’t believe David has become one of those people who seems to be the ‘go to guy’ as the resident New Zealand agony aunt of politics.

I hardly ever see him at the apartment he’s that busy. He’s always out attending things like art gallery openings, MCing events, chairing debates, polling, talking on radio, making shit up and laying his hands on the Young Nats curing them of their belief that John Key is the second coming – evidently that’s Judith Collins.

And now the latest is that it seems all the serious journalists. art critics and reviewers have been marginalised to writing for the wasteland of the NZ Listener’s “Life in NZ’  as David steps up and now becomes NZ’s resident comedy critic.

This truly is the land of opportunity. So, anyway, he comes home and says something like…”Hey C#@t we are going to see Ewen Gilmour’s show tomorrow night, and because you were born and schooled in Huntly, you’ll get the humour and can write the review.”

And that’s the rub, he says it in such a way that at face value it sounds reasonable and logical, yet really it’s like the Emperor has no clothes and no one is going to pull him up about the way he makes vacuous authoritive statements.

Now. For all of the two readers of this ‘My Space page’, the show was held at the San Francisco Bathhouse in Cuba Street Wellington. It’s exactly like the comedy club in Auckland, but a little bit shit.

We grab our seats. Here’s the funny part. I had to pull David from sitting up the front. He said why?

Now, I know, everyone else in New Zealand is in on the joke, but it pained me not to break his little heart and I held back from saying to him…”Mate, a little short four eyed, bald, David Bain look-alike winner will be the first person to be picked on by a comedian in the front row.”

Instead, like the rest of us who cover for Dave, I said….”Mate, if we sit back, we can check out the talent!”  I really should be a Spin Doctor. He bought it, and it saved me the embarrassment of being picked on by Ewen as the red-headed Huntly kid with the mini-me best friend.

Ok, so we settle in and its Bogan central – no one from the beltway is to be seen.

“Dave, want a beer?” I’m thinking as in Rome do as the Patricians do and let’s just fit in. “Nah, grab me a Diet coke”. I gave up providing Dave with any spatial awareness and head to the bar.  

Ewen then comes on stage, and it’s the first time I’ve seen him do comedy. And to be honest, I normally think NZ comedians are crap. But he is a genuinely funny guy. Sure there was plenty of toilet humour, and a few groans, I can’t believe he went there. However there was plenty of downright burst out loud laughing as he pokes at his mid-life crisis.

As for the show, he show covered the whole range of taboos not normally heard in polite Wellington Society. As the blurb says: Tattoos; motorbikes; beer; fast cars; overseas trips; beer; cholesterol; hearing aids; beer; glasses; prostate checks.

So, you can’t complain that you didn’t know what you were up for.

In particular Ewan’s take on his extra curricula activities in hotel rooms was side splitting funny. His dog with ‘that weeping gland’ problem was right down there with cringe, but delivered in the funniest way that even Chris Finlayson would have to admire the comedic artist at work.

Of course he picked on the two guys in the front row. Predictably an IT nerd and some something or othererer (sic) –I sat there smugly thinking how the innocent next to me had no idea what I had saved him from.

Then there were a couple of awkward…do I laugh or not moments. One was about his wife’s death a few years ago. The other was about blow-jobs. I won’t go into repeating what he said, but the sad moment was having to explain to my 45 year old flatmate what a blowjob is. No Kiwiblog Ladies, I’m not an idiot. I didn’t tell him what it really is, I told him it was what hairdressers do to dry ladies hair in the Hair salon.

Could you imagine David with that piece of information at his little fingertips. It would be like Winston finding out Russell Norman is an Immigrant.

The show lasted about an hour, and as I said, it was everything one would expect of from Ewen

And as Kiwiblog’s resident comedic reviewer. I give the show 2 Michelin Stars. Well worth the detour and a fun way to avoid a night at home.

Ewen’s in Wellington tiil the 11th of May at San Francisco Bathhouse

DPF: The show was hilarious. Laughing almost non-stop. I will never ever stay in a hotel room again, that Ewen Gilmour has been near! Note also that my flatmate lies and has invented most of the above conversations!

One of the Kiwiblog readers who won free tickets e-mailed me this morning and said:

Thanks heaps for the tickets would have liked to thank you in person but I had to get my wife home, she had surgery a few weeks ago and laughed so hard she was a bit sore!

Even without surgery, you could hurt yourself laughing.

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Date Weekend with a BMW 320i

April 15th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

By David’s Flatmate

People ask me where are you living these days. Well, due to Heidi Klum not returning any of my many emails, txt’s or skype calls I’ve ended up with David Farrar as my flatmate. Shoot for the ground and you can’t miss I say.

Now, evidently he has a little known/read blog which I think is called “Kiwioil Meathead Captured Cooked”…I’m not too sure as I tend to engross myself in the IRD’s Blog titled “How much do I owe in Child-support to my numerous ex -wives”.

Anyway, I digress. So David’s my flatmate, and flatting with him is like living with a born again Richard Simmons. I’ve known him for well over 20 years and seeing him turn into a Health food zealot often borders on Monty Python-esque humour.

In fact, a typical evening’s conversation from David goes along the lines of….”Hey did you know I ran 673 kms at the Gym, came home, devoured a brussel-sprout and am thinking now I’m thin and skinny I’ll get married”.

Too funny right! I know, but pretend I’m laughing at Southpark which is the only television programme we watch…..he’s none the wiser…… poor man.

So, last Friday night he actually surprised me, I was expecting the normal… “G’day, today I ran 49 billion kms, ate a single uncooked grain of brown rice and am thinking of walking to Antarctica this weekend”…Instead he said “Come look at this I need you to write up a Car Report for me…..BMW have given me this white car and you know a bit about cars, so take it for a drive and write the report.

I said…. “Dave, I’m a good looking guy, I’m single and it’s Friday night…I have options”……He pointed out that I’m an Orang-utan with many ex-wives and that a white BMW was about as lucky as I was going to get on any night.

So, like the cool young hip things we are, we jumped into the latest BMW 320i and went Friday night cruising in Wellington.


Dave’s driving, and it seems an opportune time to begin the review.

Ok, so this is where we review of the bad stuff first. Like any good motoring journalist you have to put the ‘boot’ (cleverly hidden car pun right there) in somewhere. And as we are both nowhere near ever becoming motoring journalists I think it’s best to get the negatives out the way first.

The first major drawback of the car is that it’s a 320i. And this was compounded by the fact that it had the 320i badge on the back. Sure, it’s true, Dave and I have no shame, but seriously Mr BMW person, you could have saved our dignity and given us something with a big donkey in it. The one saving grace is that it has tinted windows, so we didn’t lose our cool.

Then there is the English lady who was on the Sat Nav. It was like listening to my English mother…she kept mispronouncing Wellington Place Names. So that was worth a laugh. However I don’t blame BMW about that, because after all this really is a Remuera car, and I’m sure the English voice settings are perfect in its natural environment……probably something like…..“Benson Road Cafe, 20 metres, and you have reached your gorgeous trophy wife”. I sooooo miss Auckland.

The next major drawback was that the stereo immediately picked up David’s iPhone song list……. Turn on the car and being accosted by Sonny and Cher’s – You got me Babe was a low moment. BMW, there are apps to jam both Sonny and Cher and the Carpenters.

It gets worse…..seriously.

So Dave’s driving the car right, and he’s trying to sound like he knows what he is talking about.

This is a verbatim record of his observations about BMW’s most popular car; “Fuck, it’s got bright indicators”. “The Brakes work”. “It turns tight“. “It goes fast”. “I like this car”.

So, those were the low points of the drive.

Now for the good bits of the 320i. We know Mr BMW is hanging on our every word so as to use one of our quotes in their next NBR advert.

I take over the driving from David. NB: I will declare my interest in BMW’s…I love them, having owned three in the past.


This 320i really is a great car to drive. I it just feels at home on the road and nothing phased it at all. We didn’t even bother looking at the instruction manual – mainly because we know that Whale’s a big follower of this blog and would take our man cards off us if we even knew where the instruction manual was.

On the Sunday, we headed off to Petone foreshore to kayak over to Soames Island. However, we get there and it’s cutting up rough…southerly, rain, freezing…a typical Wellington summer day…and we were trash talking how we will make it to the Island.

In between the trash talking I was playing with the entertainment system, audio and sat nav etc. It is easy to use and very intuitive! We even changed the clock settings due to Daylight savings giving me an extra hour in bed. So, all the crap that Jeremy Clarkson goes on about not being able to work BMW’s thingamabob icontrol button system, seems to be nothing more than that of a man clinging tightly to his iPhone 4s and not embracing new technology.

Ok, so it’s blowing a Southerly, the trash talk is getting up there, then Mr Kayak man turns up.

We get out of the snug Beeeemer and are ready to go!

“Ah…sorry, it’s too rough for you to go out there”. Said the Kayak delivery man. Farrar sold out and was back in the car ready to go home. I pushed a little harder and explored the options. The response from the kayak man was soul destroying and a salutatory lesson in listening to the experts…..”Listen, I would go out there but I’m a pro, you aren’t and I kinda like my kayaks”.

So, back into the car and off to Days Bay in Eastbourne in atrocious weather.


Driving round to Eastbourne in a Southerly is a real test of any driver’s mettle, the car feels solid on the road, and the pounding rain doesn’t phase the car.

After a quick café stop, where David said to the waitress…”Hold the ice, I don’t eat solids” …seriously, I don’t make this stuff up….. we went off driving.

And the driving part is actually fun in this car. The 320i doesn’t feel like its underpowered or lacking in get up and go -I was genuinely surprised. We headed up into the twisting hills of Khannndaaalaaaah….as our Sat Nav woman pronounced it and this car just felt a delight to drive.

Another thing, when driving was that everything felt familiar in the car. As I said, I’ve owned 3 BMW’s and when I jumped in it seemed so easy to know where things are. So anyone who has owned a BMW in the past will quite happily feel at ease in this cockpit. Can I say cockpit? Oh, yeah I can, because I’m not a real journalist and this is a little read blog.

Now, I know that all 2 readers of this blog want to know the more ‘grunty’ stuff about the car…or techy bits. So, for all you detail nerds out there, here are some of the more technical aspects:

  • Engine stuff…have no idea, we didn’t bother lifting the bonnet, but it goes well and sounds quiet.
  • Fuel consumption was care of BMW’s fuel card, so it was fucking fantastic!
  • Co2 emissions ….not sure as we never ever looked in the rear-view mirror.
  • The boot looks like a boot. Dark, uninteresting and no doubt can hold 400 litres of whatever they measure boot space with.
  • Full or space saver spare tyre? LOL, like who cares.  The last time I got a flat tyre was when I was rally driving dad’s Mark 5 Ford Cortina Sport on Waikato Roads.
  • Reverse camera with guidelines and even radar……shows just how close you really are.
  • Lots of leg room behind David when he’s driving.
  • And of course the most important thing that us motoring journalists focus on “Is the car value for money”. I’m of the opinion that if you can afford this car brand-new, then you have a sound grasp of the value of money.

So, Mr BMW, thank you for lending us the latest BMW 320i to test drive.

And judging from the feedback, all 2 out of 2 Kiwioil Blog readers agree this is a great car.

Anyone who wants to read more about the 320i, and I have no idea why, because I’ve said it all and more…here is the link to the official website:

No doubt will be full of boring advertising speak like…”So you’ve finally made it, why not go the extra step and really finally make it by driving a BMW, you deserve the best, no seriously you do, because you have finally made it…now punch the air”.

So that’s the review, and while having to hand back a cool car, I begin to doubt myself and think I haven’t finally made it, but my melancholy is rapidly replaced as I walk back into the flat and see the child-like delight on David’s face as he beams proudly;

“Hey, did you know that each individual pea is less than a calorie?”

I think how can life not be great!

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April 8th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

When a play gets the half time interval, and you are annoyed that there is a break, its a good sign that the play has managed to grip your attention and you want to see how it ends.

Circa’s production of Tribes was excellent. A great mix of tension, humour, light and sound.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The set is a typical living room, with a large screen behind it. The screen is an essential part of the show, where the sign language is translated, and very amusingly sometimes the private thoughts of the cast also.

The play by Nina Raine, originated in London, and has won three major international awards.

The cast is primarily a family of five, all creative. Father Christopher is an academic critic who critiques everything from his children’s boyfriends and girlfriends to the deaf community and Northerners. His long suffering wife Beth is writing a a book that was originally about a marriage breakdown but hilariously also includes a murder mystery now.

The kids are all in their 20s. Daniel and Ruth have both moved back home, and ignore their father’s entreaties to “fuck off” and get real jobs. She is an wannabee opera singer and he is writing a thesis on language. Daniel has some psych issues (his father blames on pot) and hears accusatory voices all the time. He used to have a stutter, and it returns when his brother Billy moves out.

To a degree the show is about Billy. He was born deaf. His siblings are very protective of him. His father has been determined not to let his disability define him and he has learnt to lip read par excellence, rather than use sign language.

The family is charming and engaging in their mild dysfunctionality, and then things get interesting when Billy meets Sylvia. She can do fluent sign language as her parents are deaf. She was not born deaf, but is losing her hearing and becoming deaf.

Now don’t think this is some sort of woe are the deaf, how miserable their lives are play.  It is a play about tribes – the family tribe and the deaf community.

Father Christopher is very sceptical of Sylvia and asks her at one point about the “deaf community”. She replies that it is very hierarchical with people judging you on whether or not you were born deaf, or became deaf, if you can sign or lip or both, etc etc. She also  comments “Plus of course, we’ve all slept with each other” which rarks the family up as Billy has never had a girlfriend.

Jeffery Thomas is excellent as Christoper, Billy’s father. He provokes and frustrates, and provides much humour. Nathan Mesiter also was very good as Billy’ brother. He is both smart and suave and stammering and lacking self-confidence.

The play is 140 minutes long, with a break. As I said at the beginning I found it got me interested from the first scene, and never let go. There are so many tensions that you want to find out where it all leads. There are no saints in this play, just a mosaic of flawed but loving family.

A lot of humour keeps you engaged also. The thoughts on the screen. The asking Sylvia to sign a translation of “Fucking her was like making love to a concrete mixer” was memorable.

When a local theatre takes on an award winning international play, the worry is that they will not do justice to the original. But the production team and cast have shown this is not the case – it was a great play, and well worth seeing.

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Eternity The Film

March 28th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I went to the Wellington premiere of Eternity, at The Paramount last night.

Eternity is a New Zealand made film by local filmmaker Alex Galvin. It was filmed in New Zealand and Hong Kong. In fact one scene I recognised as being in Hobson Street opposite my apartment, and Old St Pauls and the Wellington Town Hall are also featured. Oh yes the Parliamentary Library also.

The film starts with a gripping interrogation scene and turns into a murder mystery with a twist. The police detective is in a virtual world which has been infected with a virus and has to solve the mystery before the system reboots and the day starts all over again. 

He has to work out not just who did it, but how it was done – which is much harder. He can access two virtual assistants – Helpdesk and Sherlock – but Sherlock is a once only assistance.

The film is around 90 minutes and it absolutely succeeds in grabbing you, and keeping your attention as you want to discover who dun it (my guess was wrong), why, and how.

The special effects are well done, and I loved the music. Also the personal assistant was hilarious (you’ll work out why).

My one criticism is that I didn’t find the lead character was someone you developed an emotional attachment to. You want your lead character to be someone you are rooting for, or against, and that you feel emotionally charged at what may happen to them. I never quite felt it with Detective Manning. That may be deliberate – that the focus was on solving the mystery, more than whether Manning would be reunited with his family or not.

A great little movie which would have done a modern day Agatha Christie proud.


Mike and Virginia

March 24th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Mike and Virginia opened at Circa on Saturday night, and it was 100 minutes of almost non stop laughs.

It is billed as a romantic comedy about romantic comedies. The lead characters of Mike and Virginia are both lecturers in film studies and the audience at times are their class. Virginia is the ice queen who tells you how romantic comedies always have an incompatible couple (due to personality, background etc) who implausibly overcome all barriers to show love conquers all, even though it doesn’t.

Mike is the popular wise cracking Kiwi bloke, who is a published author as well as a lecturer. Of course Virginia hates him, and vice-versa and of course they form the focus of their own romantic comedy.

There is some audience interaction, which was also comic. Mike has a thesis that all films have a monster. He goes through various films such as Shawshank Redemption and asks who the monster is. He then gets to Love Actually and asks the audience who is the monster in that film. The woman behind me yells out “the writer” and we’re all in hysterics.

There were five actors making up the cast, and while in some plays there are one or two stand outs, I thought in this play all five nailed their characters.

Gentiana Lupi (you may have seen her in Eagle vs Shark) was the icy Virginia. Her character started slightly one-dimensional but as the play progressed you saw her sense of humour and playfulness.

Will Hall (Kip from Shortland Street) was perfect for laid back wise cracking Kiwi bloke Mike.

Jennifer Martin was hilarious as the young and beautiful but rather clueless student poet who falls madly in love with, well I won’t give the plot away. But you’ll love her performance.

Stephen Papps and Perry Piercey play the respective best friends of Mike and Virginia – their characters are Harry and Sally!

Papps’ Harry shares his nuggets of wisdom in a very droll fashion and generates aughs a plenty. He just fits the role of down to earth tradesman so well.

Piercey’s Sally is an actor, and gets possibly the best lines of the play. I won’t give too many plot details away but one part of it is how they are meant to be just friends with benefits but Virginia freaks out when Mike holds her hand at one point. She heads home alone complaining to Sally that Mike is getting too intimate. Sally responds with “You’ve had his dick in your mouth with no problems, and you’re complaining that he held your hand!” – classic.

The music and sound effects were done incredibly well, adding to many a dramatic moment with comic effect.

Mike and Virginia was hilariously good fun. Is on until 20 April, and well worth seeing.

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