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Come Together – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours | Regional News

Come Together – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours

The Opera House, 7th Jul 2022

Reviewed by: Graeme King 

When Julia Deans wandered on stage and announced that she had the “first-gig jitters”, the almost full Opera House audience erupted with laughter, and the tone was set for a night of fun and partying Wellington-style!

Rumours is one of the best-selling albums of all time, but this concert was of two halves. The first combined the early blues-driven Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac, as well as the biggest singles from their other albums. 

Brett Adams’ eerily bird-like slide guitar was a clever intro to the soothingly beautiful instrumental Albatross also featuring the second guitarist and MD Jol Mulholland. Black Magic Woman featured the charismatic and talented Laughton Kora on vocals and extra guitar.

Then it was the women’s turn: first up it was Mel Parsons channelling Christine McVie with Little Lies, then Dianne Swann with Landslide and Deans following with Gypsy – each dressed in Stevie Nicks’ impeccably iconic fashion style. Initially there was the odd wrong note, but these artists owned them, and with the interplay were having so much fun between themselves that it was infectious! 

The format of switching eras was a masterstroke – it meant that we got Peter Green’s Man of the World (Adams), the bluesy Stop Messin’ Round (Kora), and Need Your Love So Bad (Mulholland) interspersed with Seven Wonders (Deans), Rhiannon (Swann), Say You Love Me (Parsons), and Sara (Deans). Big Love, featuring Kora’s dynamic vocal range and Adams’ and Mulholland’s breathtaking acoustic guitars was a highlight, rousing the biggest applause of the first half. 

For the second half it was yet another costume change for the ladies, with Deans quipping that, with this being the first of three concerts in a row, the audience were “testing the outfit changes”, and that “the men just change their guitars”!

Then it was the whole album of Rumours in order, from Second Hand News through to Gold Dust Woman. Never Going Back Again had Kora joking that he “wished he could play it”, to which Mulholland wittily replied, “I got you bro!”

It was a surprise when Matthias Jordan abandoned his keyboard duties to join the performers centre stage, saying that “they’ve let me off my leash” to take lead vocals for Go Your Own Way – but not before pointing out his family members in the audience! 

Deans was next with an achingly beautiful and spellbinding version of Songbird, including an outstanding piano intro by Jordan.

The Chain featured the superlative bass of Mike Hall and the searingly gorgeous harmonies of all three women, and it was breathtaking – they were now relaxed, in total control, and well engaged with the audience.

First up for the two encores, Oh Well featured the blistering guitar and vocals of Adams, which led straight into the last song Tusk. This showcased the finesse and very solid drumming of Alistair Deverick, and by this time most of the audience was either up dancing at their seats, in the aisles, or at the front of the stage. 

Liberty Stage have to be congratulated for bringing another stellar concert in the Come Together series, featuring some of New Zealand’s top singers and musicians performing much-loved classic albums to a very appreciative audience.


Elvis | Regional News



159 mins

(3 ½ out of 5)

Reviewed by: Harry Bartle

After seeing the dramatic lives of Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and Aretha Franklin brought to life on the big screen, it’s only fitting that the king of rock ‘n’ roll has been given his turn to shine again in Elvis. The result is a bold and dramatic musical epic that gets some things very right and others a bit wrong.

From his rise to fame to his unprecedented superstardom, Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) maintains a complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), for over two decades. Through love, loss, fame, fortune, and of course, music, the singer and some of his peers begin to question if he is truly in charge of his own destiny.

Butler’s performance steals the show. The 30-year-old stated that he felt a responsibility to Elvis and his family to live up to the icon through his portrayal. From speaking in his notable deep voice and performing his famous dance moves onstage to even singing like him, Butler nailed every single element. Hanks supported the young actor well in a rare role as the antagonist, while the casting and performances across the board were excellent.

Elvis has a unique style thanks to director Baz Luhrmann. It is told from the Colonel’s perspective even though he is clearly the villain, an element I enjoyed. However, at times it is an overload on the senses due to quick edits, comic book-style visuals, and odd mixtures of Elvis classics with modern-day pop hits. It is also a shame that not a single Elvis song is sung in full.

Even at almost three hours long, parts of Elvis’ iconic life are rushed through, but the film also never loses your attention. The ending is both sombre and powerful thanks to how Luhrmann and his writers chose to abruptly wrap up the story. It is a tragedy that the world lost Elvis at just 42, and this tragedy and the reasons are dramatically emphasised.

Elvis won’t really tell you anything new about the star, but overall, it is a captivating, exciting, and haunting feature that showcases much of Elvis’ trailblazing journey.

Ngā Rorirori | Regional News

Ngā Rorirori

Written by: Hone Kouka

Directed by: Hone Kouka

Circa Theatre, 25th Jun 2022

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

“I want to make something that I’ve never seen before in Aotearoa.” These are the words of celebrated playwright Hone Kouka (Bless the Child) who describes Ngā Rorirori as a culmination of three artforms that intrigue him: dance, farce, and theatre. I couldn’t put it better myself: Ngā Rorirori is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I doubt I will ever see anything like it again.

Pillow (Regan Taylor) and Manuela (Mycah Keall) Rorirori stand to come into some moolah from their marae, which could become a cash cow if they impress the Chief Executive of the Department of ‘Whenua, Whakapapa and Whatever’ Ripeka Goldsmithworthy (Hahna Nichols). Newly heartbroken filmmaker Stacey Li Paul (Nomuna Amarbat) documents Pillow’s life while he tries to dazzle Manuela’s partner Rere Ahuahu (Sefa Tunupopo) instead in a classic case of mistaken identity with hilarious consequences.

I could tell you that you’re in for a surprise when Ngā Rorirori segues from dance to theatre, but I don’t think that would cover it. We open with contemporary choreography (Braedyn Togi) that aches and thrusts to measured, precise beats (compositions and karanga by Sheree Waitoa, compositions by Maarire Brunning Kouka and Reon Bell, who infuse a hip-hop and R&B flavour into the sound design). And then we’re bowled over by an unrestrained tornado of colour, sound effects, physical theatre, and clowning in scenes where actors lip sync to dialogue performed by a separate vocal cast.  Only the characters of Pillow and Stacey share the same actor both onstage and off it.

The dubbing is super jarring at first but ultimately serves to heighten the dialogue so it can thrive in the magical, elevated realm of Ngā Rorirori. Cohesion is achieved here because if naturalism was integrated at any point, it would stand in too stark a contrast with… well, everything else! One can’t really interact with a surtitle machine come to life and act normal about it now, can they?

Elements of cinema come into play with said surtitles, which incorporate te reo translations (Hōhepa Waitoa) to great effect. Aspects of French farce and melodrama, Italian commedia dell'arte, Broadway musicals, children’s TV shows, and more influences than I can count are woven into a work where te ao Māori beats fast, hard, and loud at the centre.

All the while, actors throw mammoth energy into delivering and honouring Ngā Rorirori. How big, how bizarre, how beautiful.

The Final Hours Hour | Regional News

The Final Hours Hour

Written by: Ben Volchok

Directed by: Sandy Whittem

BATS Theatre, 14th Jun 2022

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

Alone in a dripping, derelict, dinghy basement at the end of the world, Victor Bravo (Ben Volchok) hosts a radio programme called The Final Hours Hour. It’s quite possibly the only radio programme on quite possibly the only radio station, Apocalypse FM. In the midst of a perpetual nuclear winter where the only thing that grows is onions, Victor endures with just a few things to keep him company. He has an old iPod, some tapes, a cassette player, a telephone, and an action figure with an onion for a head. Onion Boy watches on, bemused, while Victor valiantly insists: “It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful day”.

Written before COVID but taking on a new meaning post-pandemic, The Final Hours Hour is an exploration of loss and loneliness, isolation and desolation. And onions. The onions are important. In fact, the smell of onions permeates the BATS Theatre Studio, especially after Victor blends them to make a banana milkshake sans banana, sans milk, and sans shake. Just onions, then.

The Final Hours Hour has a strong concept. We watch a man try and fail to distract himself in the unrelenting face of the apocalypse, and for brief interludes we too forget his inevitable fate. We have hope when he does. We laugh when he makes jokes, although he rarely laughs himself. And we – or at least I – become inextricably invested in The Continuing Adventures of Onion Boy, especially when a space alien gets involved. Volchok’s performance and speech work here are excellent.

The scope of Victor’s loss plays out painstakingly in an inspired and cluttered set, with sound and lighting design (all three by Volchok) emphasising place and hopelessness. The slow build is cut short by one extended scene of sorrow that doesn’t impact me as much as watching Victor just try, desperately, devastatingly, to carry on.

Humour and pathos balance precariously on diced onions in The Final Hours Hour. While they sometimes topple a tad, largely, they stand their ground.

Jurassic World Dominion  | Regional News

Jurassic World Dominion


127 mins

(2 out of 5)

Reviewed by: Harry Bartle

I really wanted to like Jurassic World Dominion. Growing up, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park was one of my favourite films, and although the franchise has never really been able to capture the magic of the original, I had high hopes for an instalment set to close off this prehistoric universe. Instead, I was underwhelmed and to put it frankly, bored!

The future of mankind hangs in the balance as humans and dinosaurs coexist following the destruction of Isla Nublar. This fragile balance will be tested when the CEO of genetics company Biosyn, Dr Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) attempts to use the power of these primitive creatures for his own gain. Will human beings remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures?

Dominion is extremely lazy. It’s almost impossible to produce a film with no inconsistencies but when you create a chase scene where a velociraptor is unable to catch up to Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) but then keeps up with Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) on a motorbike only a few moments later, that is just lazy. The film is riddled with these sorts of inconsistencies, as director Colin Trevorrow decided it would be easier than coming up with intelligent explanations for why his characters travelled great distances in mere minutes and why security cameras never seemed to be working.

The original was so good because Spielberg built suspense so well. Did you know that in Jurassic Park dinos are only on the screen 11 percent of the time? Dominion is the complete opposite. Why would audiences fear these monsters when every two minutes they see Pratt and co escape from one? The dinosaurs may look amazing but the mystery and fear that used to surround them has been lost. There was no sense of wonder, nothing was new or suspenseful. The return of Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) added some well-timed nostalgia, but even they couldn’t save Dominion’s weak script and predictable plot.

As sad as it may be, as Grant suggested all those years ago, it really is time to close the park down and move on.

Rhapsody | Regional News


Presented by: Orchestra Wellington

Conducted by: Marc Taddei

Michael Fowler Centre, 11th Jun 2022

Reviewed by: Dawn Brook

Orchestra Wellington’s 2022 theme Circle of Friends played out in this concert with the centrepiece being Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, alongside his wife Clara Wieck’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, and their friend and supporter Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, a work given to the Schumanns’ daughter as a wedding present.

Overall, the concert delighted the audience as usual. However, the intensity of the beautiful and anguished opener Alto Rhapsody to me was missing. Mezzo-soprano Kristin Darragh combined with the Orpheus Choir Male Chorus and the orchestra to perform this work. While Darragh has a strong and lovely voice, the performance as a whole seemed curiously tentative.

Clara Schumann’s piano concerto was written between the ages of 12 and 15, when she was already much celebrated for her piano performances. Jian Liu, the soloist for this performance, was more than up to the virtuosic demands that the composer imposed on herself as the first performer of the work, delivering clarity, brilliance, speed, and elegant shaping of lyrical lines.

Conductor Mark Taddei provided the audience with an illuminating talk about Schumann’s symphony before performing it in full. He said it should be called Clara’s symphony, partly because it reflects the happiness of their marriage at the time and partly because the recurring theme within it spells out the name Clara, forwards, backwards, inverted, smoothly, spikily, and every which way. It is a glorious symphony, full of joyous energy, tenderness, and passion, sometimes lyrical, sometimes brooding. Standout moments were the song-like line of the oboe above the cellos in the second movement, the lyrical solo violin in the same movement, the early energy of the scherzo movement and its winding down to something sweeter and more gentle, the huge dramatic chords that blasted out from time to time breaking up the music’s flow, and then the thrilling pace of the finale.

The Professio(nah)ls | Regional News

The Professio(nah)ls

Presented by: Sincere Muckabouts

Te Auaha, 4th Jun 2022

Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus

Three fresh-faced, besuited but barefoot office workers unpack their desks and take to their keyboards for the first time. Their introduction to the world of work starts nicely enough as the two main protagonists (Caspar Ilschner and Otto Kosok) settle into their bland pods, wrestle with a box of tangled cables, joke with each other, and persuade their computers to work. However, as they get sucked into the unrelenting grind of corporatism, they are compelled to battle with constant phone calls from unseen managers, tedious meetings, a presentation about the latest financial report, business jargon, the effects of excessive caffeine consumption, and an overbearing competitiveness that descends into a literal and figurative fight for superiority. Finally, a headless, paper-stuffed boss arrives in a red-drenched nightmare to end the destruction and chaos.

For anyone who has spent time in an office job, this is all painfully familiar, but it’s unlikely you’d have ever seen your big business experiences presented in this way before. Ilschner and Kosok are consummate physical theatre cum dance performers whose athletic and carefully choreographed movements frequently mirror each other, only to be thrown into conflict as their initially friendly banter turns to vicious rivalry. They rarely speak, so their physicality is the main channel for their sophisticated symbolism and satire, which they deliver with great skill.

Martin Greshoff, as the third corporate lackey, provides a stunning live electronic soundtrack from his desk. His stark melodies are mixed with dial-up modem sounds, computer bleeps and dings, and disembodied voices. A further shoutout to Greshoff for his trombone-playing, which is a tender final counterpoint to his jangling digital soundscape.

Hollie Cohen’s design makes clever use of white cardboard boxes, paper screens, and animated projections that beautifully support the idea of an office environment while allowing the performers to create carnage in safety.

At one point in this highly original performance, a distant voice asks, “Do you work well under pressure?” The answer for these three is clearly and unequivocally, “Nah”.

Rope | Regional News


Written by: Patrick Hamilton

Directed by: Paul Stone and Helen Cashin

Running at Gryphon Theatre until 11th Jun 2022

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

At first glance, Rope looks like your classic British murder mystery. There’s a murder, a motive, and a swanky cocktail party where the whisky flows freer than the secrets. There are also murderers, Wyndham Brandon (an unwavering Slaine McKenzie) and the erratic Charles Granillo (Tom Foy). Before you cry out that I’ve spoiled the show, I haven’t, and that’s what makes Rope so interesting. From the very first scene we know whodunnit and why.

The play then becomes an exercise in suspense. Will the party guests find the bones in the chest that they dine on? Will the murdered boy’s dad (Sir Johnstone Kentley, played with presence and pluck by co-director Paul Stone) discover his son lies crumpled but two feet away?

Because suspense is so integral to Rope, there are a handful of things that would get this production cracking along with more electricity. The pacing could accelerate in some scenes, particularly the long opener in the dark and the finale, where a slower build to the climax means it doesn’t have as much impact. Snappier exchanges of dialogue and more staccato vocal deliveries from the cast, plus tense music used more frequently (sound design by Jake Davis), would help to up the stakes. Davis’ lighting is often used to great effect, especially with a few well-timed blackouts, and there is an excellent rainy soundscape that could be ramped up with thunder and lighting.

The opulent set (Oliver Mander) positions the chest as a character in itself, while Hayley Knight and Wendy Howard’s sleek wardrobe adds to the absorbing aesthetic of an evening in the 1920s. Stone and co-director Helen Cashin’s decision not to modernise the setting proves to be a good one.

Special mention to Tim Macdonald as the gormless and charming Kenneth Raglan and Mandy Eeva Watkins as Leila Arden, who takes delight in everything ghastly. Together with Susannah Donovan (always a highlight), the fabulously French Stephanie Gartrell, and the shrewd Nick Edwards, these two outstanding performers complete the committed cast of this dark and sinister Wellington Repertory Theatre production.

Snapchat Dude Live! | Regional News

Snapchat Dude Live!

Directed by: Holly Chappell-Eason

The Opera House, 31st May 2022

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

You may recognise writer, actor, director, and comedian Tom Sainsbury from Wellington Paranormal or Give Us A Clue, a televised charades gameshow hosted by Paula Bennett. The former deputy prime minister of New Zealand is one of the many politicians Sainsbury has parodied on social media app Snapchat, so working with her on the show was quite the hoot, he tells us between endearing drags of his imaginary cigarette. Endearing because as he says, he doesn’t smoke in real life, only in his reenactments of it.

Snapchat Dude Live! is a mix of banter, storytelling, and Sainsbury’s famous Snapchat satires of middle New Zilunders. Snap videos of these impressions are projected onto two screens shaped like smartphones that form the centerpiece of the show (set by Chris Reddington, technical by Peter van Gent and Paul Randall). With wigs, a few costume staples, clever scripting, and whip-smart timing, Sainsbury interacts with pre-recordings of his characters live to tell a story in real time. And what a story it is!

I never thought I’d be so invested in a quietly sensitive lumberjack and a not-alcoholic cat lady who played hockey in high school. But Gav and Liz, I love you and I love your love.

Sainsbury brings his characters to life with a glint in his eye and a spring in his step. He adds a layer of depth to the shallowest of them and makes me like even the most unlikeable ones (although still screw you Tracey and Stacey) with the strength of his storytelling and performance.

I’d love to see Sainsbury’s confidence come up a notch when he’s interacting with the audience as himself. He tells some killer jokes and personal anecdotes that he doesn’t quite let land, moving on too quickly when we’re still busy laughing. I hope this doesn’t come out of a fear that he’s not as funny as his characters, because he certainly is.

Wicked fun and unexpectedly touching, Snapchat Live! is a blast from beginning to end with all the snooty cats in between.