Reviews - Belleville

Reviewed by Janet McAllister, NZ Herald.

A knock at the door sounds like hammering with an anvil in this Silo Theatre production, but clever, compelling Belleville is really only playing dress-up as a thriller. Its taut, insightful portrait of a millennial marriage is the real element of interest here.

Beautiful neurotics Abby and Zack are undergoing their quarter-life crises in Paris - city of broken American dreams. Playwright Amy Herzog skilfully captures their claustrophobia, isolation and shifting power dynamics but also their attraction, recounting the relentless, infinite number of "new beginnings" in a challenging relationship. It feels real: the couple know the conversation subtext before the audience does; as they should, given they've been married five years.

Directed by Oliver Driver, both Sophie Henderson and Matt Whelan give committed, brilliant, absorbing performances, making us believe in the couple's long-term intimate familiarity. Under pressure, Zack's face tics ever so slightly.

Read the full review here.

Read the Theatre Scenes review here.
Read the Theatreview reveiew here.

Nick: An Accidental Hero - Fundraiser

by Renee Lyons
12 - 13 September

Belly laughs a'plenty, moments of true beauty, Nick: An Accidental Hero is the enormously affecting and heartbreakingly honest story of New Zealand sportsman, adrenalin junkie and all-round wild man Nick Chisholm. Nick's life ground to a halt when he was struck by a major stroke at the age of 27. He was left with a condition called "locked in syndrome" - known to those who have experienced it as "pure hell". Nick's unexpected recovery has baffled the medical profession and the play explores his fierce determination, the many characters that populate his life and the unlikely road to true love.

After sell out seasons, awards and critical acclaim, Chapman Tripp winning actress and creator Renee Lyons brings her solo show Nick: An Accidental Hero back for 2 nights only. An unstoppable tour de force of talent, imagination and a testament to the strength of the human spirit, Lyons has performed the show to critical acclaim throughout New Zealand and Edinburgh. This fundraising event is to now help her get the show to Australia.

Doors open at 6pm - platters and drinks available. Show starts at 7.30pm.

Door sales (cash/eftpos) or book at

featuring Renee Lyons
direction by Abigail Greenwood

Vesuvius blows his top in Edinburgh

Taken from NZ Herald, by Stephen Jewell.

"Hey, it's Juan Vesuvius!" I am heading out of Edinburgh's Assemblly Roxy with New Zealand comedian Barnie Duncan at midnight. There's no better indication that his one-man show, Calypso Nights, has become the talk of the town than when some students call out after his comedic alter ego and ask for selfies.

After gaining impressive reviews from The Guardian and The Scotsman, the hilarious show about a feckless Venezuelan DJ was included in The List magazine's top 10 best-rated shows and last week won entertainment website The Skinny's Fringe Genius award.

"I thought it would do well because it's a party, so I asked for a late night slot," says Duncan. "It really isn't comparable to anything else. Juan is such a good character, and he's so colourful and flamboyant, I knew there would be a point of difference."

With the last fortnight of performances selling out, Calypso Nights has fared much better than the New Zealand play, Strange Resting Places, the mid-afternoon three-hander that officially brought him to Scotland.

Read the full article here.

Barnie Duncan wins at Edinburgh Fringe

Taken from The Skinny, by Vonny Moyes.

As champions of emerging talent, we're using our position as Scotland's largest independent arts and culture magazine to pay homage to the plethora of talent Edinburgh is fortunate to host each year during the Fringe festival.

As a publication grown from the sterling efforts of a handful of dogged volunteers, into a monthy print magazine now in its ninth year, we recognise the importance of both vision and determination - a sentiment echoed by every act who pours their soul into an idea that eventually becomes their Fringe baby. Given the number of award ceremonies that take place each year, talent is clearly recognised - however, without a sponsor, affiliation or agenda beyond exalting that talent, we think there's room for one more. With our reputation for being an independent critical voice with an eye on talent, the time has come for us to take that recognition beyond the page, and straight to those who really make the festival what it is. Bring on The Skinny Awards.

After much deliberation we've decided on three main awards to illuminate those we feel really deserve a place on the cultural landscape. The categories are Fringe Genius - the award for best original show, Debutant - the award for best newcomer doing their first full length show, and Talk of the Town - an award for the show with the biggest impact.

Decided by a panel of experienced Skinny critics, fresh-faced judges and culturally savvy independents, who identified our four and five star shows, then attended, adjudicated and deliberated, before arriving at our nominees. We're standing together as a unified voice that supports the most inspiring acts in this year's programme.

For most original show

Barnie Duncan - Calypso Nights - WINNER

Read the full article here.

Lucy Lawless: Much ado about nothing? I think not

Crikey dick! The media has been fraught with drama these past two weeks. Everyone on talkback says that they're sick of hearing about "the Hager saga" but they obviously didn't read any of it. It is riveting.

The hardest creatures you've ever heard spew forth are the loathsome stars of Dirty Politics. From an actor's point of view, the dialogue is irresistible. Playing Crusher Collins is a dream role that I may one day have to arm-wrestle Robyn Malcolm for. (I suspect I'll lose and have to settle for Cactus Kate.)

And the malevolent males are beyond Shakespeare's villains, whose conflicted selves produced the great soliloquies. No such trouble for Slater & Co, whose revelations come by way of pathological boasting. Excessive pride exposes what Nabokov called "the streak of stupidity that fatally runs through even the most competent tyranny".

Their lust for power is grotesque. Who's more powerful than the king? A kingmaker.

Read the full article here.

Short+Sweet Auckland 2014

Short+Sweet is back again for 2014. The festival that brings you ten minute blocks of theatre, dance and song.

Short+Sweet Auckland presents a 4 week season featuring over 35 plays, 40 dance pieces and 10 short musicals. Each rendition of the festival features the collaboration of over 50 directors, 40 playwrights, 40 choreographers, 10 composers and close to 300 performers... all volunteers!

A night at Short+Sweet consists of the audience seeing ten pieces, each of which is no longer than ten-minutes. It is a night in the theatre where you never quite know what is coming next. You are presented with a feast of styles and subjects, and the next piece is only ever ten minutes away. At the end the audience are asked to vote for their favourite prompting the show to conclude with a foyer filled with discussion and debate.

for more information and to view the 2014 programme visit the Short+Sweet website here

Amanda Billing tours with Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Amanda Billing features on the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra's upcoming album Be Mine Tonight, due for release Friday 7th November.

She will be joining the band for the national tour, kicking off in Dunedin on November 8th, where the band will pay tribute to the best of Kiwi music with audiences up and down the country, finishing up in the band's hometown of Wellington where they will play two very special nights at the James Cabaret on 5th and 6th December.

The album is sure to surprise and delight with its characteristically unpredictable mix of well-known contemporary and classic songs. It features special guests including Lisa Tomlins (fresh off a world tour with Neil Finn), Hawaiian ukulele artist Pi’ikea Clark and Canadian ukulele star James Hill.

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are renowned for their unique combination of charming humour, disarmingly small instruments, sublime musicality and hilarious audience participation - a joyful formula that has been in hot demand worldwide.

Last year, the band wowed crowds at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and sold out the prestigious Union Chapel in London, with UK critics raving: “These guys and girls sing as well as they play - and they play like a dream” and “The party hit of this year’s Fringe” (STV Scotland); “Great chemistry, genuine warmth; the show climaxes to rapturous applause” (Festival Journal).

for more information on their upcoming tour visit the WIOU website


presented by The Town Centre
5 - 13 September

The Town Centre presents genre-defying, anarchic and party fueled hour in which 4 performers lie, cheat and run gleefully into the face of failure. LIES is a deliberately unstable world of theatrical discord and pure play.

The Town Centre is a cult of deconstructionist theatre makers who specialize in breaking apart theatrical spaces, bridging holes between performers and audiences and building stories like houses of cards then smashing them all to pieces. They are fascinated with Failure.

This is not traditional theatre, but instead, a team of traditionally trained artists navigating new ways of vying for the audience's trust and affections.

A Town Centre show is a party. It's an elaborate rouse to get you in the same room as them. Because they think you're sexy and it's just not as fun without you.

See the shows that people claim "ruins all other theatre" and call "exhilarating, inspiring and brilliant".

featuring Julia Croft, Lara Fischel-Chisholm, Simon Haren and Ash Jones
direction by Nisha Madhan

for more information and to buy tickets visit the Basement Theatre website


by Amy Herzog
28 August - 20 September

This is no standard-issue thriller. It's taut, genre-busting storytelling which grabs you from its first breath.

Zack and Abby are doing the whole twenty-something, expat thing in the most romantic city in the world. She's teaching yoga and he's saving lives, working for Doctors Without Borders. It's enviable, it's idyllic, it's young love. But are they really living the dream or just sleeping with the enemy?

It kicks off with an awkward afternoon moment. She's just caught him indulging in a little online porn when he should be at work. And so our boy and our girl begin the delicate skirting of the abyss: in the co-dependency of their own creation, seismic shifts are occuring just beneath the surface. Sometimes the most dangerous lies are the ones you allow yourself to believe.

Throbbing with nerve-wracking tension and slow-burn intensity, this is a gripping portrait of intimacy on the edge of collapse. Amy Herzog is the next big thing internationally and this latest work caused a big fuss at Steppenwolf In Chicago last year.

featuring Sophie Henderson, Karima Madut, Tawanda Manyimo and Matt Whelan
direction by Oliver Driver

for more information and to book tickets visit the Silo Theatre website


presented by Fractious Tash & Last Tapes Theatre Company
27 August - 6 September

The lights are low. The gin is in great supply. The band is playing your favourites. In the smoky depths of a 50's London gay bar, the tipsy regulars loosen their dinner jackets to ask - who the f*ck is Ernest? Under the beady eye of top-bitch, Lady Bracknell, two dandy fops squabble over the love of two dreamy sweethearts, and the name 'Ernest' seems to matter an awful lot...

Brimming with vivacious wit, a bit of bravado and some downright silliness, Earnest is an audacious reimagining that blasts the cobwebs off Oscar Wilde's saucy play.

Bringing the belowed text to life is a sprightly all-male cast, a sexy live band, and the greatest hits of Cher (yes, Cher!). It's the perfect marriage of classic tunes like Turn Back Time and The Shoop Shoop Song, and Wilde's devilish one-liners.

Fractious Tash (Confessions, Titus) and Last Tapes Theatre Company (The Last Five Years, Verbatim) have joined forces to bring you a show like no other, taking everything you thought you knew about Oscar's play and catapaulting it skyward. Rebooted and revamped, this is Oscar's quintessential comedy as you've never seen it before!

featuring Jordan Mooney, David Sutherland, Eli Matthewson, Oscar Wilson, Stephen Butterworth, Jordan Selwyn, Andrew Ford, Cole Jenkins
direction by Benjamin Henson

for more information and to book ticket visit the Q Theatre website
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