Theatre Review: The Wirecutters, Charmian Hughes - Soixante Mirth
Presented by Wellington Young Actors and Churton Park Young Actors
Bats Theatre, Wellington, 7pm nightly, until March 4.
Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth
Written and performed by Charmian Hughes
Bats Theatre, Wellington, 9:30pm nightly, until March 4.
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman
For several years now, Deborah Eve Rea has been working with a group of young actors putting together large-cast productions, often improvised, with the group contributing to much of the content.
Known as Wellington Young Actors and Churton Park Young Actors, it is one of Wellington's youngest theatre groups, with the performers ranging in age from just 13 to 17.
For this year's NZ Fringe Festival however, they have taken a different tact, with each member putting together a short piece about well-known New Zealanders, some living and some from the past, under the title of The Wirecutters.
* Youngest ever Fringe Festival performers preparing to bring famous Kiwis to life on stage
* Five things to catch at Fringe 2017
* Canadian cabaret comedy singer in Wellington for NZ Fringe Festival
* The woman behind the Fringe
Divided into three groups, with half-a-dozen performances in each, playing on alternate nights of the season, these fascinating snippets of some of New Zealand's best-known icons range from the comic to the bizarre to the heartfelt trauma of each one's life.
In the opening night session, the dilemma of a young Gareth Farr, torn between wanting to be a drag artiste and writing serious classical music, is portrayed with much humour by William Robinson. That's in contrast to the poignancy of Grace Tromop van Dalen's tale of Katherine Mansfield's brother being killed in the First World War and Nancy Wake's efforts in the resistance movement of the Second World War, as told by Lauren O'Hara.
TV host Hilary Barry, trying to fill in her time after quitting her TV3 job, is hilariously portrayal by Imogen Macalister, while the public and personal personae of Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Maori Queen, is wonderfully contrasted by Charm Tuapawa.
And while vocally some of the pieces needed more projection and some of the performances were in want of being played with more energy, all were nevertheless creative and original renderings of iconic kiwis.
No-less entertaining is Charmian Hughes, with her late-night solo performance in the Studio at Bats Theatre.
Charmian has just turned 60 and decides to look back on her life and have a good laugh, hence the title of her show Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth.
The 1960s, when Hughes was growing up as a teenager in the UK, is also a major feature of her show.
But what makes this performer a class above most stand-up comedians is the original and innovative way she constructs her show. She goes back in time and encounters herself as a 10-year-old looking forward, before revisiting the dreams and aspirations she had at 14 and then again at 23, all hilariously told.
Full of confidence, with witty and erudite comments that are both funny yet profound, Charmian Hughes is a great entertainer not to be missed.