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Slips: Cricket Poems | Regional News

Slips: Cricket Poems

Written by: Mark Pirie


Reviewed by: Kerry Lee

Hands up how many people think of cricket and instantly start thinking of poetry. I imagine not that many, since they’re not things that someone would normally associate with each other, but surprisingly the two subjects have had a loving relationship since the 18th century. 

While I have never been a fan of poetry or the sport, I have to admit to finding myself smiling more than once at some of Mark Pirie’s work. Light-hearted, funny, and sometimes thought-provoking, Slips gives people a glimpse into the funny side of cricket, which I always felt took itself a little too seriously.

This collection of poems has obviously been a labour of love for the writer, and his passion shines through with each verse. What could have been just poetry is instead turned into a sort of deep dive into the game’s rich history and shows us why it has the legion of fans that it does.

From toasts to players of yesteryear to the sometimes ridiculous ways that people have been dismissed from games, nothing is out of bounds (so to speak), and Pirie happily pokes fun while being respectful. As a result, Slips: Cricket Poems comes off as both charming and genuinely entertaining.

However, as wonderful as it is, a major downside is that unless you absolutely love cricket, a lot of that charm and humour will be lost on you. The book is clearly aimed at the cricket-mad fans and poets out there, and I’m afraid that anyone else will feel left out in the cold.

Apart from this one quibble, at the end of the day, if you love cricket and love poetry, this is definitely the book for you. While it won’t be for everyone, Slips: Cricket Poems is a wonderful read that I think would tickle many people’s funny bones if they gave it a chance.

Six by Six – Short Stories by New Zealand’s Best Writers | Regional News

Six by Six – Short Stories by New Zealand’s Best Writers

Edited by Bill Manhire

Victoria University Press

Reviewed by: Margaret Austin

The title of this hefty volume is a metaphor for construction – literary construction. These 36 stories – half a dozen each by our most celebrated writers – are chosen to illustrate individual range and depth.

Perhaps Katherine Mansfield and Frank Sargeson could be considered parents of the New Zealand short story. Not that they’d have got on. There was Mansfield living on the other side of the world, mixing with the likes of Virginia Woolf (who admitted to envying her rival’s work) and initiating a love affair with her publisher – and Sargeson, hanging out in a disreputable none-too-clean bach on Auckland’s North Shore keeping company with down-and-outs and sheltering Janet Frame.

What they had in common is that both were sharp observers of the New Zealand society of their times, albeit from different sides of the world. We readers get to sample their rich and varied progeny.

I was brought up to admire Mansfield’s Her First Ball, but a rereading of Daughters of the Late Colonel had me delighting even more in the black comedy dripping from such a sophisticated pen. Spinsters Josephine and Constantia are mourning the recent death of their fierce father, and their post-funeral actions and reactions, a mixture of trepidation and inadvertent giggles, are hilarious. It’s Mansfield at her brilliant best.

At 50 pages, is her Prelude too long to be a short story? Sargeson composed his seminal 500-word Conversations with my Uncle in one sitting, and its subtle social commentary typifies future tales. My other favourite, The Hole that Jack Dug, is a likeable portrait of the – sometimes unfathomable – indefatigability of the New Zealand male when working on a practical task. Sargeson’s appeal is irresistible, originating from his preoccupation with, and protection of, the underdog.

I pay tribute also to the other four writers represented: Maurice Duggan, Janet Frame, Patricia Grace, and Owen Marshall, whose stories contribute equally to the range and quality of the New Zealand short story.

Heart of the Sea  | Regional News

Heart of the Sea

Written by: Nora Roberts


Reviewed by: Tania Du Toit

“It was always best, in Darcy’s opinion, to leave a man not only wanting more, but wondering.” Heart of the Sea is the third and final book in The Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts. I absolutely adore Roberts’ writing style and her consistency with the characters’ personalities. Throughout the trilogy, each character plays a vital role and without each personality, the novel would have probably been very boring.

This novel differs from the other two books in the trilogy though, and it took me a little while longer to read. That does not mean that the book was less interesting, it just wasn’t what I expected. Roberts’ other two books in the series, Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, were quite romantic and magical, whereas Heart of the Sea is a little more focused on the family business, success, and the potential of blossoming love.

Heart of the Sea continues with the curse of Carrick, Prince of Faeries and his beloved Lady Gwen, and the third part of the spell that must be broken for them to be reunited in love once again. Their fate is in Darcy Gallagher’s hands, but she is not looking for love and certainly not looking to get married anytime soon. Travis McGee, Gallagher’s Pub’s new business partner, is not only handsome, but rich and successful too. He offers the Gallaghers a great business venture and offers Darcy the lifestyle and money that she so desires – but is he willing to offer her his heart?

Heart of the Sea was rather interesting and gave me a more in-depth feel of the community of Ardmore, the bonds between the locals, the excitement of all the business possibilities, and the dramatic changes in two people’s lives. I struggled a bit to relate to Darcy as a character, as she aspires to live a lavish life of luxury. However, her confident and arrogant personality woke up the ‘vixen’ in my own and that was just what I needed.

2020 | Regional News


Written by: Ben Spies

Spies Publishing

Reviewed by: Jo Lucre

Ben Spies, a seasoned author at 13, delivers an entertaining and action-packed read with his science fiction novel 2020.

2020 is full of surprises and I can’t help but think it’s all the more on-point and enjoyable for pre-teen readers, having been written by one of their peers. Spies wrote his first book at nine-years-old, and on hearing this particular piece of trivia, I could
see the possibilities unfold before my eight-year-old’s eyes. Impressed he was.

In 2020 the Earth’s orbit is moving precariously close to the sun, with the planet heating up to unsurvivable levels. A spacecraft aptly named Salvos, a nod to salvation, is NASA’s hope for saving the human race. It’s a vessel for transporting them to another more habitable planet, but sadly, Salvos is not meant to be.

All is not what it seems in 2020. There’s espionage, shapeshifting extraterrestrials, and top-secret bunkers, and the plot thickens trying to decipher everyone’s intentions... are they malicious or misunderstood?

Spies sets an exciting pace with alternating chapters between the perspectives of Susan Dawes and her son Jacob as they fight to survive amidst the chaos.

I was remiss not reading the age recommendation of 11+ before reading 2020 to my son, but nevertheless it was very much enjoyed and it was too late to turn back when I realised he was already hooked. “It was awesome cause it was gruesome,” was the general consensus from him, and it is fair to say this sentiment, though a little exaggerated, is spot-on. Some bits are best suited for a slightly older audience. Who would have thought the whole fight for survival in an apocalyptic world would be so entertaining? And it was the bits perhaps not suited to an eight-year-old that seemed to be all the more appealing!

2020 offers lots of suspense for pre-teen readers, and its rapidly moving pace only adds to the urgency. The race is on to save humanity. The only question is, will Susan and Jacob survive?

Instructions for Dancing | Regional News

Instructions for Dancing

Written by: Nicola Yoon

Penguin Random House

Reviewed by: Saashika Satish Chander (age 14)

Instructions for Dancing is an awesome contemporary romance written by Nicola Yoon. It’s told from the point of view of our main character, Yvone ‘Evie’ Thomas, who witnessed her father do something awful, resulting in the divorce of her parents. And with it, her willingness to believe the world isn’t awful and loving someone is fine deteriorates. However, her newfound love of dance and the handsome X she meets soon may change that.

The two things I love most about this book are these: the relatable and complex characters, and the fact that romance isn’t the only subject here. Don’t get me wrong – I love love just as much as the next person. But I also like variety, and Instructions for Dancing has plenty of that. It deals with infidelity, and not just what it does to the partner but also the family. We see Evie’s mum break. We see the toll it takes on her father for his own child to hate and mistrust him. It’s heartbreaking, yes, but also an interesting view. I’d never actually seen the other side of infidelity – it was surprising how much sympathy I felt.

And now onto the second reason why I love this book: the in-depth characters. X (yes, that’s his real name) is not just in the story because it needs a love interest, he’s an actual three-dimensional character. One great thing is being able to watch Evie get over her aversion to love and allow herself to be vulnerable. There’s Cassidy, your typical ‘mean friend’. Behind this, she just wants the approval of her often-absent parents. There’s Fifi, who’s a very scary dance instructor, but one with a heart of gold who just wants her students to succeed. I also adore that there’s plenty of representation. Plenty of the people, including Evie and X themselves, are African American. Cassidy and her girlfriend are LGBTQIA+.

Instructions for Dancing is an amazing book with an important message: love is about the journey and the moments you share, rather than the potential heartbreak you might feel.

Pig | Regional News



91 Mins

(2 ½ out of 5)

Reviewed by: Sam Hollis

An unusually restrained Nicholas Cage, dark secrets of a notorious past, and a pig drive this melancholic and often aloof tale. Writer-director Michael Sarnoski strives to find depth in sparsity, meandering through an increasingly disenchanting story led by a promising character we observe but, sadly, never absorb.

Rob (Cage) is a recluse living in a cabin deep in the Oregon forest. His only companion is his pig, his only income the truffles she helps him find, which he trades with high-end restaurant supplier Amir (Alex Wolff). One night, Rob is attacked and his prized pig is stolen, forcing him back to the city to find the people responsible.

I know what you’re thinking, John Wick 4 has arrived early. Well, not exactly. This isn’t a revenge picture, and far more closely resembles a Leave No Trace than a Taken. What we have with Pig, on the surface at least, is a film about isolation, but beyond that I can’t decipher what it’s trying to say. Rob appears to be an interesting man, complete with a shady past, an apocalyptic worldview, and the ability to cook Michelin star-worthy meals in the middle of the woods. And yet, as we are drip-fed answers to the riddles he invites, I’m left more and more unsatisfied.

That said, it’s never for lack of trying. Patrick Scola’s photography is undeniably rich; the aromas of damp moss and bark permeate the screen when we hunt for truffles alongside Rob and his pig, while the bright lights of high-society Portland blur into a trippy kaleidoscope of artificiality. Our leads, Cage and Wolff, are each as compelling as the other, Sarnoski simply hasn’t given them enough meat to chew on. When he tries to toss in a left-field idea – an underground fight club for wealthy restaurateurs, for example – it comes off disingenuous in a film that otherwise lacks urgency.

Stylistically, Pig is an intriguing debut for Sarnoski, and with the right story he could surely soar in the future. This just wasn’t it.

Community Noticeboard | Regional News

Community Noticeboard

Presented by: Best on Tap

BATS Theatre, 15th Sep 2021

Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus

Community Noticeboard has the dubious honour of being literally the only show in town, thanks to COVID-19. If you can drag yourself off the couch, it’s well worth an hour of your time to head to BATS, join the masked-up and physically distanced audience, and let your mind be absorbed in this beautifully rendered piece of “truth-based, spontaneous theatre”.

The premise is a simple one: take real-life notes found on the community noticeboards at supermarkets throughout Wellington and explore the needs, wants, desires, lives, and relationships behind the notice writers and readers.

This is improv, so a member of the audience is invited pre-show to pick a dozen notices from a bowl and pin them to the board that forms the minimal set, which the actors then choose from and read out to form the basis of each scene. While the detail of the short scenarios is improvised, the flow is structured well to keep it varied and interesting.

The excellent ensemble cast of Best on Tap (Nicola Pauling, Mary Little, Geoff Simmons, Tim Croft, and Barry Miskimmin) creates a stream of poignant and often hilarious mini stories of the human condition from offers of sale as diverse as a train set, silver horseshoe, and Insinkerator. Their talent for instant but genuine characterisation is evident in the diversity and warmth of the relationships they produce from set-ups such as a couple on a first date, a mum and two annoying teenage sons, women bonding over the physical decline of a loved one, and even two fish in a tank being terrorised by a cat.

The action on stage is expertly supported by Matt Hutton and his keyboard and lighting improvisor D' Woods. In one particularly brilliant moment, the lights in the dome respond perfectly to the mimed actions of a young man being taught wiring skills by his dad.

Community Noticeboard runs only until Saturday the 18th of September and ticket sales are necessarily limited. It’s a treat. Don’t miss it.

Gays in Space | Regional News

Gays in Space

Written by: Tom Sainsbury and Jason Smith

Directed by: Tom Sainsbury

BATS Theatre, 10th Aug 2021

Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus

Gnoagh McGower (Daryl Wrightson), a straight-seeming NASA employee, is getting ready for the first all-gay space mission to probe Uranus. He is joined by Brahim Akbar (Zak Enayat), a model who believes the stereotype that he’s good-looking but stupid, and Dayj Cheeseman (Chris Parker), an ultra-camp social media addict who’s doing it all for Instagram. Also present on their suspiciously penis-shaped rocket is Sexbot (Blaise Clotworthy), who quickly becomes the subject of much jealously among the three astronauts.

On their seven-year journey to Uranus, they fend off a glamorous asteroid (Tom Sainsbury), have a Grindr date with a big-bottomed, bright pink alien called Zabian (also Sainsbury), and suffer space-induced conditions such as moonface and loss of bone density while all sharing the same bed. When they finally arrive at their destination, all is suddenly not what it seems.

These narrative shenanigans are accompanied by catchy, clever, and well-executed songs (Jason Smith), a highlight of which is the title track which my friends and I find ourselves singing in the foyer after the show. We also laugh like drains at the deliberately awkward rhyming of ‘love’ with ‘approve’.

The cast clearly enjoy performing this show and all deliver it with polish and energy. Special mention must go to Clotworthy whose beautiful singing voice, strong dance moves, and ability to create a fully rounded and sympathetic character from a robot are a standout. Sainsbury also showcases his enviable versatility in a variety of supporting roles.

Designer Molloy does a great job with the set and lighting, which are uncomplicated but appropriately spacey and effectively support the action on stage.

A quirky, fun, laugh-out-loud musical with a twist, Gays in Space does much more than just provide “great escapism”, as claimed in the programme. It also highlights with genuine pathos the pains, pressures, and prejudices faced by gay men as they navigate their lives and is all the stronger for it.

SUPER, NATURAL | Regional News


Presented by: Discotheque

Te Auaha, 6th Aug 2021

Reviewed by: Leah Maclean

Discotheque (DTQ) are an independent Wellington-based dance company who have been bringing chaotic energy to the stage since 2016. Their works to date are steeped in irreverence, experimentation, and a pure love for the act and idea of dance. Their latest creation SUPER, NATURAL is no exception.

Co-directed by Holly Newsome and Elekis Poblete-Teirney, SUPER, NATURAL is a charming 50-minute romp of sci-fi abstraction, disco, and theatrical effect. The performance relies heavily on experimentation with light, sound, and texture, all of which ultimately lend well to the intended otherworldly atmosphere. It is also carried by six female dancers who ooze charisma and seem to relish and thrive in its quirky realm of existence.

Setting a cinematic, extraterrestrial scene, the performance opens with an ominous sequence of shadow play, robotic voiceover, and plenty of dry ice. The dancers are revealed wearing various iterations of the same green dress. They move in perfect, inhuman unison like aliens trying to fit into a human nightclub or a 30-year-old trying to vibe with surrounding 18-year-olds (no shade intended, I am in the former demographic). It doesn’t take long for the dancers to shed their discipline and spiral into a wild frenzy of leaps and bounds, unveiling their inner party animal.

Adding to the hectic energy, the soundtrack is a layered, pulsing mash-up of disco, talk show fragments, and poppy anthems. Then there is a series of colourful costume changes, from abstract swimsuits to glittery 70s body suits. Disco comes in hard and strong with the dancers imitating the pointed fingers and bouncing hips of the decade. And what would a homage to disco be without a few disembodied disco balls?

SUPER, NATURAL is a genuinely fun and absurd piece of work. DTQ are trying to create a new chapter of accessible dance and I think they are well on their way to achieving that by not taking themselves too seriously. I am excited by their development and am eager to see what weird and wonderful place they end up next.