Improv, loop pedals, talk shows, meeting the gods, ibises, sacrificing children, audience participation, crying at Basement again, absolute bad bitches.
CLAS103: GREEK MYTHOLOGY
Have you ever been stuck in an endless, monotone class just wishing it could be mixed with a little… drama? Comedy? Hubris? Through a matryoshka doll of characters, the brilliant showrunner Vincent Andrew-Scammell becomes the bumbling Professor Ross Jacob Livingstone, who inadvertently becomes imbued with the spirits of various ancient gods and heroes to deliver what is guaranteed to be the most engaging Classical Studies lecture you’ve ever been to. The awkward lecture quickly derails into a highly theatrical odyssey through history, taking us all along for the ride. The audience are disinterested students, the audience is inside the Trojan Horse, the audience are souls waiting to cross the river Styx, the audience are forced to comfort the Minotaur through his vulnerable moments. Despite very little costuming or props, Andrew-Scammell manages to create distinct characterisations for each pantheon to possess Professor Livingstone—polishing this off with a fearless approach to improvised audience involvement. An opening night crowd packed to the rafters with equal parts reviewers, improv enthusiasts, and an imposing front row of Classics academics could only be a terrifying thing to face as a one man show. But he rallied every hard ball effortlessly, never once breaking stride when riffing off of the experts. It made me wonder about how each night of the season would have brought a different hilarity—this would probably be the only lecture I would ever go back and watch again on Panopto.
This solo show staged by Daley Rangi (Te Atiawa) both stretches and embraces the bounds of oral storytelling. Takatāpui, interlocking poetry and song, is one night told in verse—a reflection, a reminiscing, and a reclaiming of trauma. Rangi is a confident and comforting narrator of their own life, and guided us through the intense tonal shifts of the night with ease. The events are lightened with vivid lyricism, comedic breaks, and naturally, disco. With a sparseness of staging and company, the richness of Rangi’s storytelling paints the hour-long runtime with a much longer staying power. Ephemeral collections of fleeting violence that dance between the existential and the incendiary. It is awe-inspiring to see what one talented artist can achieve with only a bar stool, a table, and a vocal processor—that form is entirely what you make of it. An astonishing sound bath of discomfort, this was a magnetising performance that will be very difficult to forget.
THE BITCHING HOUR
Sandwiched between their sold out shows across the country, and jetsetting to the UK for a several-week stint of shows at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, How We Survive Productions’ Olivia Hall and Carrie Rudzinski somehow staged a week-long season of an entirely new show—days out from leaving to represent Aotearoa on a global stage. The Bitching Hour combines late night talk show with local poetry: It’s a recipe for success—with beloved segments such as audience games, special guests, and surprise performances reminiscent of the Eras tour. Carrie and Olivia’s chemistry has sparkled in their previous poetry theatre shows How We Survive and Hysterical, but on The Bitching Hour it gets to shine in a whole new light. The schtick of the co-hosts is that they are bad, bad girls. They want to have a good old-fashioned bitch fest, letting it all out through the catharsis of poetry and highly-competitive mini games that left most of the audience very frightened of the energy being created. There were also moments of incredible tenderness, and the return performances of some of their greatest hits—a journey of poetic comedy that showed us that maybe the real destination was the complaining about landlords and loud children we did along the way. Because we may be bitches, but we are bitches together. The talk show is a format with endless potential for further development—it’s easy to see The Bitching Hour becoming a regular staple of Auckland’s live scene in the near future.