By Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley
Directed by Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 4th November 2017
Centrepoint’s latest production Ropable opened on Saturday night. Advertised as a ‘Killer Christmas Comedy’ you may guess that it’s a bit of a black comedy, and you may not guess that the Christmas part refers to the fact that Centrepoint are bringing it to you near Christmas time...
Adapted for our local audiences’ particular enjoyment, this version of Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley’s Ropable is set in Shannon with a lot of witty one-liners and colloquial knowledge that weaves extra fun into the show. As young ghost writer Eden Forsyth plans her wedding at the 'Shan In' to celebrity Monty Parker, who has been married a few times before, it seems Eden might be getting entangled in a 'bad romance'. Surprises abound as Norma the manager of the 'Shan In', Auntie Prudence, and Eden's mother Constance, all attempt to intervene to protect Eden from Monty's unfaithful and drug-fueled ways. But things are never what they seem...
An older audience may get extra kicks out of this Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery parody but younger people will not miss out on any of the fun for not knowing (as was evidenced by my thirteen year old’s enjoyment of the show). Everything needed for a bit of fun and frivolity was there, from sexual innuendo, frights, great props, suspense, and good old fashioned laughs, to psychological thrills and spills.
A strong cast kept Ropable tight, their strength and skill knitting together to make sure the comedy delivery didn’t unravel into awkward or cringe-worthy moments. Carrie Green’s role as Norma Bates the manager of ‘Shan In’ was wonderfully portrayed, her combination of intimidation, sexual prowess, physical comedy, and deadpan deliveries coming together in a terrifyingly funny way.
Mark Wright was a bit of a surprise. At first I thought he was not really pulling off his role as Monty, but it turns out he was playing his role as an annoying, idiotic, philandering ****hole really well. Later when Eden’s father Nigel wanders on stage unexpectedly, it took me a while to realise it was Mark Wright in more than simply different clothes. Both roles were poles apart and my feelings towards them were too.
Innocent Eden played by Torum Heng strung everyone along, Eden’s mother Constance played by Lori Dungey brought colour and va-va-voom with her, and Auntie Prudence played by Yvette Parsons performance was a real ‘scream’!
Excellent use of lighting and sound effects provided great mood and brought shock elements to life. The set lent itself to producing a larger than life environment to work with, from the upstairs vertigo suite to the sauna and outside to some amusingly named landscape features. Imaginary places fed by clever set arrangement expanded the play into the unseen. Alfred Hitchcock references riddled the set, and a keen eye will find plenty to smile about.
Ropable doesn’t take itself seriously, everyone’s there for a bit of a laugh and there’s plenty to laugh about. If you feel like unraveling from the stresses of the silly season, check into Ropable’s ‘Shan in’ and enjoy a rollicking ride.
27th October 2017
Director Ian Harman
BURLESQUE! BOOM, BOOM!
Centrepoint Theatre was transformed into a haven of French-style glamour to celebrate the 10th anniversary chapter of The Boom Boom Room Burlesque with Tease-o-Rama! As expected from director Ian Harman a highly polished show, combined with a classy set provided great entertainment for a spellbound crowd. A full house lined up for Friday night’s premiere, some raucous and some getting into the spirit of it all and dressed to thrill...
Flesh, feathers, sparkles, sweetness and oh so much teasing kept an enraptured audience eating out of these ladies well manicured hands throughout the show. The alluring French accent of an off-stage MC wafted over the audience providing excellent entertainment as each delicious lady was introduced with their alter ego names matching a variety of fun themes. Costa DeMillion showed off her mastery of the art of burlesque revealing her years of experience with The Boom Boom Room with exceptional performances.
Mistresses of tease, these glamorous ladies were delightfully attired in a range of the most beautiful (and well fitting) lingerie – costuming on point. I seriously chastised myself for my own ill-fitting, mismatched and shabby underwear choices and wondered how I might look in high heels, pretty lingerie, and just of dot of the sexiness of the burlesque babes – oh la la!
I’m not sure whether the audience knew quite how to respond, sometimes it seemed there was a bit of enchanted silence which might not be the desired response. Personally if I was going to dance around in my lingerie I’d expect people to be screaming with delight. Someone who does know how to make an audience respond the way he wants is Mr Lola Illusion (Ian Harman) who offered some magical moments, some vulnerability, and a decent shaking of his tail feathers!
It’s too late to catch Tease-o-Rama! now as its limited two night showing is over, but The Boom Boom Room is bringing a new show soon to which I would highly recommend you attend.
There was no cooling their jets when James and Maree Candish put their wheels in motion and purchased a little known workshop tucked away on Cambridge Avenue in Ashhurst. Young, ambitious and full of enthusiasm they grabbed the keys and went to work making sure that their workshop stood out. Fresh new paintwork, a thorough clean throughout, and rebranding meant that a young James had a sparkling new workshop to get his mechanical business Village Valley Automotive started on a transformational journey towards becoming the humming mechanical pit stop that it is today. Not forgetting its past James honours the history of his workshop, displaying black and white photos in the reception area of a very retro looking Astro Auto Services owned by his predecessor Roger Herd who loyally stayed on working for James for a few years.
James had made the most of an opportunity presented to him, and had not expected that a job mowing lawns as a teenager would lead to becoming a mechanic let alone owning his own workshop. He took a job at CESCO doing forklift repairs, when the opportunity arose through his lawn-mowing job, which led to him doing an apprenticeship in heavy-automotive plant and equipment diesel mechanics. Seven years working for someone else left James feeling discontent. Shown a ‘for sale’ advertisement of Astro Auto Services, a little known workshop tucked away behind trees and some old decommissioned BP fuel pumps on the main drag in Ashhurst, James and his wife Maree took the risky first step into becoming business owners. With Maree busy studying to become a midwife, their life became like a speedway blur of activity. After a ten year investment of hard graft, and with a growing young family, James finds himself in pole position for providing mechanical services in Ashhurst and surrounding areas.
James looks back at those early days with the wise eyes of a business man with years of experience under his belt, he’s faced and overcome many challenges along the way but each challenge has brought him invaluable experience. He laughs as he recounts the handwringing experience of buying a new tyre balancing machine in his first three months of business, which seemed a significant and risky venture for his young business. Since then almost every item in the workshop has been updated and/or replaced with new equipment such as diagnostic computers and wheel alignment machines, bringing equipment and service capabilities to the modern high standards needed. This has allowed Village Valley Automotive to provide the wide range of services they deliver to clientele so that they won’t have the inconvenience of having to go farther afield. James relishes the opportunity to solve problems for his customers and says with his skills and the others in his team they can always nut out a problem in the end. Being a born and bred Ashhurst resident James appreciates the needs of his community, he’s grown into the role he’s taken on and admits that relationships with customers, staff and suppliers are most important to him. He’s uncomfortable about being referred to as ‘the boss’, asserting that his team are all important cogs in his well oiled machine.
Ten years have not passed unmeasured. James and Maree set targets for themselves that helped them steer their future in the right direction and to make sure the wheels didn’t fall off along the way. Their measured approach has facilitated the growth in their service, their workshop, and their local business. A short time spent in his reception area reveals, that in this small community, Village Valley Automotive provides a friendly and familiar service to many. From WOF’s, car services, full tyre replacement, and wheel alignments to heavy equipment and machinery, James and the team have got the Ashhurst community’s mechanical needs covered.
Director: Jenna Kelly
18th October 2017
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Chatroom, Jenna Kelly’s directorial debut at the The Dark Room. If you’ve never attended a show at this little gem of a theatre, do not be intimidated, it is a welcoming, friendly little nook with all the essentials like eft-pos and drinks – rock on up and enjoy yourself.
Anyway, Chatroom, I have to admit that I thought I might be a bit old to enjoy a teen internet chatroom drama, would I even understand their lingo? Well, I took a front row seat and felt like I was really part of the action, even though there really isn’t a lot of action. There’s a minimalist set, just the bare necessities which with good use of lighting and sound, works perfectly and does not detract from the strong, dialogue driven act.
I found myself really immersed in the chatroom conversation between these teens, all six parts delivered a compelling and believable act and expertly showed how quickly things can get out of hand under the cover of online aliases, with the group quickly splitting into a hero’s versus villains aesthetic. One actor’s delivery was perhaps slightly hampered by an overly rushed delivery of lines, hopefully just first night nerves, but the rest of their performance was well formed. Excellent characterisation by all actors brought teenage behaviour to life well, I low key had melancholy pangs for my (long) past teenage life.
Finn Davidson offered an exceptional performance as depressed teen Jim. His tender and subtle yet strong performance was awe-inspiring and just what was needed to handle the delicate issues of his character.
I commend Jenna Kelly on her directorial debut. Chatroom, is a thoroughly well delivered show for all to enjoy.
Margaret Edson's Wit
The Rare Theatre
Director : Damian Thorne
Last night I had a ‘rare’ experience indeed. Tucked away at the back of Shed 23 on Princess Street is a cheeky little rebel theatre where director Damian Thorne has produced The Rare Theatre’s debut show - Wit. With a coffee cup in hand I surveyed the charming array of chairs and cushions all neatly lined up in delightful rows in the intimate theatre space. I think that when spaces are restricted great skills of creativity are needed to endow them, sort of like condensed soup – it has a richer flavour. That was certainly my experience of The Rare Theatre, it is cosy, full of ambience, personal and embracing.
Looking at the set was sort of like staring into a lounge window, it was a very relaxing scene to gaze upon. The small set space did not stop this one woman show from delivering its full story to great effect. Actress Gael Haining-Ede as Vivian Bearing used her space well to deliver a witty yet bleak narrative about her cancer battle supported by voice recordings with Trudy Pearson as Susie Monahan, Damian Thorne as Jason Posner and Jeremy Matthews as Harvey Kelekian.
Gael’s performance was commendable as she delved deep to deliver some highly emotional scenes. Balancing the narrative with strength, courage and wit, at times I got goosebumps, while other theatre goers wiped tears from their eyes. The soothing and gentle tones of nurse Susie Monahan were a relief in amongst some tough scenes, and Jason Posner’s clinical and robotic, yet thorough bedside manner offered more light relief.
With Vivian Bearing’s occupation as an academic specialising in 17th Century English Literature taking a dominant role, this play really delivered a bunch of my favourite things. Small spaces, clever language, art, and a strong woman role model! It was a rare experience, but a delightful one.
Songs for Nobodies
Directed by Ross Gumbley
19th August 2017
Prepare yourself for an adjective heavy review! Showing restraint with words and enthusiasm will be impossible. Johanna Murray-Smith’s Songs for Nobodies starring Ali Harper leaves an impression on the soul. It is not challenging, in your face, or fast-paced, but peaceful, delightful, intimate, nurturing, funny, genuine, delicate, melancholy, and real. It’s an experience that must be felt to understand, and although we sat as a captive audience I suggest each and every one of us felt that we had Ali Harper's undivided attention. Her gentle eyes reached inside me and said ‘relax’, I trusted her as if she’d held my hand and taken me on a remarkable journey through the lives of five remarkable, as well as five unremarkable, women.
I am truly almost lost for words that could do justice to such an experience. In arts of subtlety, the crew behind this production are clearly experts. Disguised behind plain screens, a trio of musicians led by talented musical director Richard Marrett, supported Ali Harper’s incredible vocals which perfectly evoked the character she represented. Clever but understated lighting seemed to imbue the souls of past legends into Ali’s performance. Embodying such a vast range of characters Ali’s accents built the individuality of every persona and was (what’s a word with more impact than ‘impressive’) awe-inspiring.
I am so full of admiration for this woman’s performance I could actually weep, as it was, my fellow theatre-goer did wipe away a few tears of respect and admiration. The moment Ali Harper strolled on stage in a brown dress and wig and gently looked the audience in the eye was magnetic, maybe she hypnotised us... How such a drab costume and nothing more than a chair on the stage could be transcended and given so much life is a mystery.
This performance ticked all the boxes, with music, lighting, sound, and acting, so beautifully and seamlessly polished as to produce a life of its own. Such a stunning performance here in Palmerston North is a treat of immeasurable proportions. Hats off to Centrepoint for securing such a high quality performance that would be received anywhere in the world (surely) with great delight.
I’m not usually a second time viewer of anything – books, movies, shows, but I can feel Ali Harper calling me back to this unique show. Songs for Nobodies is a show that nobody should miss. It’s a full-bodied, almost spiritual experience. Thank you, Ali Harper and crew, I am full of admiration.
The Full Monty
Abbey Musical Theatre
Director Steve Jenkins
13th August 2017
The Full Monty, a full-bodied version, oh boy! The cast of Abbey Musical Theatre’s latest offering really let it all hang out as they seek to recreate the theatre version of this award winning show. More than simply gratuitous nudity though, these down on their luck, blue collar workers expose more than just a bit of flesh. As an audience we’re there for the story – isn’t that how it goes (wink, wink)...
It’s true to say that you will see the ‘full moon’ maybe sooner than expected but let me assure you that there is a storyline – one you may know of if you’ve seen the original movie or another version of the theatre show.
An industrial themed set nicely evoked the factory workers Sheffield location and sat comfortably on the stage. Gritty, grey and full of action the stage was brought to life by a talented cast complete with some tragic fashion, horrible hairdos and cringe-worthy Yorkshire accents. It all works nicely to deliver a punchy and realistic story-line with some great acting and clever, well delivered comedy.
Sam Gordon and Nick Ross bounced off each other with vigour as best mates Jerry and Dave, displaying masculine bravado as well as sharing some more tender moments. Nick Ross’s portrayal of big softie, slightly stupid, Dave was exceptional and his comedic timing always expertly delivered. Dave’s relationship with wife Georgie, was honest and tenderly played out. Katie Monaghan’s role as Georgie a brash but lovable outspoken woman brought a high energy, very enjoyable character to life. Playing the son Nathan torn between his mum Pam (Sarah Donnelly) and Dad- Jerry’s- financial and custody dispute, Isaac Gregory performed an excellent role. He was both believable and endearing, and a salve to soften the edges of some tough issues. Sarah Donnelly’s portrayal of the protective parent, ex-wife role was well delivered and carefully balanced. Jessie Feyen (as Vicki) brought some real sparkle to the scene and was a heartily enjoyable character to watch along with her husband Harold (Ben Pryor). The cast really worked so well together that it is hard to separate them from the story; they performed seamlessly and cohesively, pulling together a great show.
Insecurities, financial hardship, body issues, and stripping delivered in a high energy, high comedy format made this version of ‘The Full Monty’ really enjoyable show to watch. Director Steve Jenkins produced a risqué comedy that had the audience laughing out loud. It was a great way to spend a cold evening, and the nudity was...revealing.
Lord of the Flies
Adaptation Nigel Williams
Directed by Jeff Kingsford-Brown
A long island iced tea was a great accompaniment to carry into a disorienting set as I was dragged into what seemed like unfamiliar surroundings at Centrepoint Theatre for the opening night of ‘Lord of the Flies’. My thirteen year old daughter who’d auditioned for a part (unsuccessfully) was eager to get in and check everything out. Time to look around at what was a dramatically different set from usual was a good thing and we debated whether it was actually sand that covered the stage or amazing special effects – I was firmly of the side of sand and in the end I created a distraction allowing Miss thirteen the opportunity to get close enough to touch it, and yes it’s sand. I’ll leave the rest of the set as a surprise element (apart from revealing that it is basically a giant sandpit) because I don’t want to spoil what is a pretty neat experience of discovery.
Sci-fi style music set an eerie scene and being ignorant to the story I wasn’t sure what was coming. Miss thirteen leaned forward and whispered to me ‘you’re going to cry, I’ve just remembered some pretty brutal scenes and ugh...’ she shivers. As I braced myself and watched people file into their allocated seats amongst a surreal environment, I felt a little bit like I was at an amusement park waiting for a ride to begin, I envisioned a white knuckle experience.
Momentarily we were bathed in soothing yellow light bringing to life a scene of golden sands and blue skies, a sort of freedom and utopia for the children who survived a plane crash. But this is short-lived, as unruliness gives way to power struggles, to bullying, a battle for survival, fear and murder. There’s blood, bones, fire and an unapologetic battle of good and evil, it’s a relief to come up for air at half-time.
This mixed-genre re-enactment of ‘Lord of the Flies’ showed some stunning performances. Comfrey Sanders’ portrayal of Simon was outstanding. Miss thirteen singled her out as her favourite character. Similarly Ella Hope-Higginson’s portrayal of Jack was chillingly on point, I hated her psychopathic bitchy character in an all too real way and had to remind myself that she was clearly doing a great job and probably in real life was quite a nice person. As Roger, Nathan Mudge had me concerned that his grasp on his role came all too naturally, watch out for that guy (but again probably just great at his role). As the voice of reason and maturity Leighton Stitchbury’s – Piggy, was bullied and taunted, a role he nurtured carefully, winning the hearts of a sympathetic audience. Michael Van Echten playing lead character Ralph, was torn between the voice of reason offered by Piggy and the fear of being weak which was constantly being pointed out by Jack, it seemed an emotionally exhausting role to play. A well rehearsed ensemble cast brought solid support and authenticity to the gritty reality of their situation.
Some clever techniques brought the set to life and the aesthetic the sand provided as well as the position of the stage allowed the audience a 3D fly on the wall experience.
The strength of this story was crucial to the success of this play yet this adaptation was strong, thrilling and slightly disturbing, a combination that leaves a kiss of fear on your skin.
Knit-in with Metiria Turei
Joseph St Kitchen
Hosted by Thomas Nash - Green Party
On a windy and rainy Thursday night, a rustic and warm little cafe in Palmerston North was bursting at the seams with people enjoying a warm fire, mulled wine, cake, cups of tea, knitting and a chance to talk with Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. It was warm and noisy in Joseph St Kitchen, my late arrival meant that chairs were hard to come by, but as is usual at JSK you can always find a little hidey hole somewhere. Local candidate Thomas Nash greeted me while I was tossing up which delicious cake to accompany my mulled wine. He didn’t remember me from his quiz night fundraiser where my team took out second place and all of the raffle prizes – I warned him not to forget me again.
I pushed my way through tables and chairs to the fire where a large pot of mulled wine was being kept warm and ladled myself a glass full. The cafe was a song of talking, laughing, scraping chairs and chatter about the various knitting projects people were working on. After a while Metiria stood up to deliver a brief talk about the Green Party. I’ve never heard Metiria talk before and in general my brain turns numb when a politician opens their mouth but Metiria held my attention with every warm and inclusive word she said.
I’ve noticed that with both Thomas Nash and Metiria Turei their talks never start with an impressive or flashy list of credentials presented to prove their elite intellectualism. That’s not because they don’t have those credentials – they most certainly do – it’s because they’re real people like you and me trying to connect with their constituency in a genuine way, sometimes by knitting in a cafe together.
Metiria has been in parliament for fifteen years and she speaks in a relaxed and self assured way, like someone with nothing to prove. She explains how the Green Party are a ‘facilitative’ party that will help communities to solve problems with solutions that are best for the community. She very easily points out the issues with our current government and the very simple plans the Green Party has to resolve these. She talks about the alliance the Greens have formed with the Labour Party and how they will work together to bring out the best strengths from both of them. Metiria did not have to make anything sound flashy or nail home her point. She didn’t try to baffle us with any boring or exclusive terminology. She spoke from a good heart in terms that totally made sense. I understood that the Green Party were about people and the environment before I attended the knit-in but hearing Metiria talk was so affirming, exciting and hopeful. The one point Metiria did nail home was – party vote green, if nothing else – party vote green. That’s what counts.
Thomas Nash our local green candidate eagerly jumped in from time to time to point out that he was worthy of voting for. I believe him. Thomas is young but very experienced in politics both locally and internationally. He is a quiet achiever of exceptional skill and experience. Perhaps most pleasing to see is that Thomas carries no shred of superiority but instead comes across as shy, eager and excited a sort of funny/awkward but genuine personality. Looking back on what he’s achieved which includes being an international leader in humanitarian and disarmament causes, it’s clear to see what motivates Thomas – it’s people and a fair society. If I was at the TAB backing horses and Thomas was one I reckon he’d be a damn good bet. I don’t care if he’s first in the race, as long as he’s making sure all those other horses are treated fairly and all make it to the finish line.
People want to ask Metiria questions, she’s fine with that as long as she can keep knitting while she talks. Nothing rattles her as she stands knitting and expertly answering every question asked. Her years of experience and genuine personality show as she gives her attention to each person and tells the truth about her party’s plans and ideals. It’s absolutely heart-warming to see politics that are so inclusive, so real and so open to the people.
At the end of the night I wanted to give Metiria a giant warm hug for being such an exceptional woman and giving me such hope for what a government with the Green Party could achieve. I missed out because I ended up being one of the last to leave the warm comfort of JSK and she’d slipped away before I could get a chance. But Metiria – I’m coming for you...
Manawatu Theatre Inc
The Globe Theatre
Directed by Scott Andrew
16th June 2017
It’s likely that most of us have heard of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, many of you will have studied it at school, and be aware of its ominous predictions about increasing surveillance and control of society. That’s loosely what I knew about ‘1984’ before I attended the opening night at The Globe, that and that ‘Big Brother’ was somehow associated with the novel. I expected a political performance and wondered how entertaining that could be. Handily the Penguin Books publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four is available to purchase with a programme for $15 if you want to take a piece of literary history home with you.
The stage set is minimal, and functional, with industrial lights and bar-codes setting the sterile scene. I’m put in mind of being under surveillance as soon as I sit down and find a cast member already on stage, shackled, and lying face down. Can he hear what we are saying? Sam Gordon (Winston) remains shackled for his entire emotional performance. I got way more than I bargained for as soon as the show started.
Using mind games, flashbacks and a loud, aggressive, unseen interrogator this play doesn’t gradually unfold but more - explodes in your face. Audience members in front of me were squirming and turning their faces away. Sam Gordon’s portrayal of Winston was so realistic that my toes curled with every torturous, blood curdling scream he emitted. At times I wanted to stand up and yell ‘STOP’!
Newcomer Jess Linsley slips in and out of character, at times playing one of the party members interrogating Winston, and at others playing Winston’s love interest –Julia. Her role as Julia was exceptional; she exuded a confidence on stage that belied the experience she could have had at her young age. Her intimate sex scenes were perfectly delivered, vulnerable and touching. On top of that Linsley delivered an original, short, beautiful song that gave me goose bumps.
Three other party members participated in the interrogation of Winston. Acting out in flashback-style all of the crimes of Winston in painstaking detail. All carried out the challenges of the task with excellent execution. Matt Waldin was tasked with acting out Winston’s affair with Julia and did so tenderly. Mark Kilsby nearly brought me to tears in a desperate portrayal of Winston’s starving inmate companion, imprisoned and begging for mercy.
Director Scott Andrew has done an excellent job of delivering this Michael Gene Sullivan adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. As an audience member I felt the full brutal interrogation raining down all around me and winced as every demanding question belted out at a helpless Winston. This was a totally believable performance by all the cast with exceptionally strong performances by Jess Linsley and Samuel Gordon.
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