It's often said that laughter is the best form of medicine. So what better way then to cure a personal crisis than with a session - on the sofa - with Peta Mathias. The scandalously funny redhead is more than your average culinary host-cum-television personality. Mathias is also something of an agony aunt.
But if you're expecting patient confidentiality, forget it. Mathias conducts her one-on-one sessions before a live audience with crowd participation encouraged.
The Agony Aunt segment is one of her favourites of her live show which comes to the Nelson School of Music on November 22.
"We love coming to Nelson, of course; it has the best climate in New Zealand and is a great place to live," she says.
The audience write their "agonising problems" on paper and put them in a basket when they arrive. On stage Mathias chooses the ones that she finds most interesting and most funny.
For someone who is accustomed to working from a recipe, Mathias says it is pretty risky and she has to "think on her feet".
"Some of the best ones are the people who have an outrageous personal problem . . . it can be very, very funny."
She says most of the questions are about relationships and family, as well as plenty of food and cooking questions. "I get questions from people wanting to change, wanting to do something really wild and crazy, but they haven't got the guts," she says.
"A lot of people have those questions; a lot are fearful about change."
Mathias says there can be some serious questions but she tries to keep it light. "Sometimes they're a lot of fun. People really get into the spirit of it. A lot of people, believe it or not, like getting up on stage and having a chance to perform."
A former nurse and counsellor, Mathias has also written three books on social commentary and relationships. In more recent years she started an agony aunt column in the Dominion Post. The tone of the column is meant to be sardonic and this is transferred to the stage version.
An acclaimed foodie, author, television personality, columnist and culinary host, Mathias has many strings to her bow and all will be on show.
As well as demonstrating a recipe on stage - from a unique portable cook-top - she will also be singing. She is a talented vocalist who studied classical singing for four years when she left school.
"I love the singing segment of the show because [production partners] Jeff and Jane [Avery] are musicians and Jeff accompanies me on the guitar - it's an intimate and charming moment in the show."
A pre-show treat is a complimentary glass of Arrogant Frog Sparkling Rose from 7pm.
Renowned for her flamboyant dress sense, will Mathias give a sneak preview of the fabulous frocks she'll be appearing in?
"I go to India every year with my culinary tours and in India there is no such thing as too much bling, so it's a great place to buy a beautiful dress," she says.
"For the show I have an orange, heavily sequined dress, which could be used as a traffic light. The sequins are metal so the dress weighs two kilos."
THE DETAILS Peta Mathias LIVE! Nelson School of Music, November 22, at 7.30pm. Tickets from Nelson School of Music, ph 03 548 9477, and TicketDirect, ph 0800 224 224.
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