The Christchurch Arts Festival is off and running, and its programme is stuffed to the gunnels with amazing acts and experiences to catch. But what to prioritise amongst all of this tasty cultural goodness? Fear not; we’ve done all the hard work, even enduring the ever-so-slightly retina-scorching colour scheme of the festival programme this year so you won’t have to. Here’s our pick of the many, many highlights in this year’s fest:
Hudson & Halls Live!
Be transported to a 1980s television studio for big laughs, rum-fuelled showdowns, and cooking that seems more than a bit dubious to modern eyes in this uproarious theatrical production that gives us a glimpse into the lives and love of Peter Hudson and David Halls, TV celebrity chefs and the two halves of New Zealand’s original great gay love story, famously ‘in the closet with the door wide open’. This production has wowed theatre and festival audiences around the country since its premiere at the Herald Theatre in 2015; Christchurch audiences shouldn’t miss their chance to see it.
The Court Theatre, Wed 6 – Sat 16 (extended post festival season runs until October 14)
Step back in time to an electrifying era of glamour and abandon; an international ensemble of performers (including former Australian Idol judge Marcia Hines) takes you on an electrifying journey into a world that’s a raucous, seductive fusion of disco, dance and circus. The swingin’ disco soundtrack never lets up as dazzling acrobatics, disco divas and seductive chanteuses are mashed up into a heady world that you can’t help become starry-eyed at experiencing, if only because the glitterball is bouncing light into your face. This is a show-as-party; get set for groovy times!
The Piano, Wed 6 – Sun 17
The Things Between Us
The last time writer/composer Luke Di Somma was involved with a premiere musical at the Christchurch Arts Festival, it was to co-create (with Greg Cooper) the Kate Sheppard rock-bio That Bloody Woman for 2015’s edition; the show promptly became the country’s hottest theatrical ticket and has barely stopped playing theatres up and down the country since. This time he’s back with The Things Between Us, a new work again commissioned especially for the festival and billed as ‘a provocative and playful exploration of coupledom in the modern world’. Here’s a chance to see this red-hot Kiwi talent’s latest work before it blows up.
Papa Hou YMCA, Thu 14 – Sun 17
Absurdity of Humanity
Striking works of Trans-Tasman choreography are brought to us from Ross McCormack (NZ) and Lina Limosani (Australia) in this dynamic double bill from The New Zealand Dance Company. McCormack’s Matter is a highly-acclaimed piece that interrogates indecision, environment and questions of purpose within a surreal network of giant pillars, inviting audience members to delve into the depths of their own humanity, while Limosani’s Whispers from Pandora’s Box is an exuberant romp where Kill Bill meets Elizabeth; a black comedy that contains Elizabethan-period inspired costumes, David Lynch-style elements, and incredibly timed fight sequences. One night only, dance fans!
Aurora Centre, Fri 15
Leading Irish actor Pat Kinevane turns in a powerhouse solo performance in this blackly-comic tale of a life lived in secret. Winner of ‘Best of Fringe’ awards in both Adelaide and Edinburgh (yes, that Edinburgh Fringe Festival – that’s a pretty big deal!), Underneath is a testament to the people who live on the fringes; a look at the circumstances, cruelty and disappointment that can shape us, and the glimmers of hope and happiness that can be found in human kindness. It’s much funnier than that sounds though too, and has been described as “a perfect 90 minutes”.
Papa Hou YMCA, Thu 7 – Sun 10
Christchurch Arts Festival
To 17 September