Pantograph Picks for Auckland Fringe 2020
Like a river in flood, Auckland Fringe has burst its banks, with a whole spill-over season of pre-Fringe ‘Soft Launch’ shows already underway, and the Fringe proper launching 25 February 2020. There’s a LOT to get excited about in this year’s programme, but no need to get swept away... here’s our top picks.
(3 – 7 March)
The Salem Bitch Trials was the funniest thing I saw at Fringe 2019, and the same powerhouse group of improvisers – who also happen to all be women – are back for Fringe 2020 to take on Britain’s most popular reality television via longform improv high jinks. The Basement may not be Mallorca, but Lust Island promises to be packed to the brim with whipsmart callbacks, screams of I GOT A TEXT!! and storylines that last longer than any of the actual romances on the ITV show.
Basement Theatre Durational works
(27 Feb – 7 March)
This year the Basement has set a provocation for theatre makers in their studio space to create longform works of up to four hours’ duration. It’s a great idea and one that feels like a generous offer in Fringe, when schedules are tight and the 60-minute show is ubiquitous. With each of the Basement’s durational shows, viewers can come and go as they please, or sit and take in the work from go to whoa. I’m particularly looking forward to Just One More from performer Arlo Gibson and dancer/choreographer Ross McCormack (seen together most recently in Red Leap Theatre’s Owls Do Cry), and Jelly Baby from performer Alice Kirker.
In 2017, Pantograph Punch writer Adam Goodall interviewed former Green MP Catherine Delahunty and her sister, playwright Sarah Delahunty ahead of their show Question Time Blues at BATS. In 2020, the two are back – this time both on stage – with #UsTwo, which is taking on both the Wellington and Auckland Fringe Festivals. There are so many women from older generations in New Zealand politics (and performance) who need to have their stories told, and it’s even better when they’re in control of the narrative. So I’m going to jump at the chance to watch the Delahuntys’ yarn.
Auckland Live Fringe Town
(25 February – 1 March)
Last year the Town Hall was the home of Pussy Riot, and this year Auckland Live have brought their thankfully un-Fringe-like resources to bear on an awesome and wide-ranging programme that includes headline acts Sarah Mary Chadwick and Alien Weaponry. Have you ever heard the Auckland Town Hall organ? Sarah Mary Chadwick’s performance of her album The Queen Who Stole The Sky will be an immersive, singular performance utilising that incredible instrument.
Two more shows I’m looking forward to as part of Auckland Live’s programme is This Fragile Planet, a collaboration between New Zealand Dance Company and The Conch, and Burning Opinion, a bilingual piece in Tongan and English from theatre company Tales from the Kava Bowl.
Tom Clarke has won a bunch of acting awards and is an excellent comedic actor. Most recently he was one of the two titular leads in Auckland Theatre Company’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I didn’t catch his creation Perry when he performed it in the 2018 Comedy Festival, but this feels like champagne fringe, and I’m not going to miss it this time.
Proudly Asian Theatre Company came away with an Excellence Award in the Auckland Theatre Awards last year. Their offering in Auckland Fringe 2020 sees them go in quite a different direction, collaborating with Sicko Productions on Deep. Written by filmmaker Hayden J. Weal, who has casually self-funded a couple of his own feature films, the play’s blurb definitely has the air of a storyline that may have once lived in a film script. But coupled with some underwater puppets, and the tags ‘Environment / Puppetry / Sex’ in the blurb, I’m keen to see what it all means.
The full programme for Auckland Fringe 2020 is available here.
Feature image: (clockwise from top left) Burning Opinion, This Fragile Planet, Jelly Baby, Alien Weaponry