Thursday, April 28, 2016

Brine Storm

The International Comedy Festival is upon us once again, and we’ve booked to see a number of performers. There’s the usual mix of well-known TV presenter-type comics performing – Rhys Darby, Urzila Carson and all the 7 Days regulars; but as we’ve enjoyed seeing people who’re a bit less well-known in the past (Worst German Ever and Eastend Cabaret last year, for example), we (I) decided that we’d go see a few unknowns. A while back I booked Guy Williams, who’s pretty well-known these days for his antics on Jono And Ben, but the rest, well, a theme started to emerge. You may spot a pattern over the coming weeks.

But first, the ever-important before-party: dinner at Boulcott Street Bistro. I’ve been to BSB many a time, especially in 2013 and 2014 when our offices were temporarily relocated to a building directly opposite: we’d organise impromptu lunches (and, indeed, some promptu ones) to take advantage of their $20 lunch deal. BSB is also the home of the T Rex Burger, the winning entry in 2012’s Burger Wellington competition. But we’ve not been there in the evening for mumble-mumble years, so, armed with our rapidly-expiring 2015 Entertainment subscription, we headed there for an evening of full-on debauchery. I mean, dinner.

First up, to the cocktail list, and my eye was immediately caught by the Heisenberg Martini. Given my current facial hirsuteness (in imitation of Walter White), how could I resist? The cocktail contains some of the standard ingredients of a martini (gin and vodka both) but also a dash of sherry and white chocolate, which gave it an interesting taste. Garnished it was, with three blue cheese-stuffed olives. An interesting cocktail, and one bound to cause uncertainty wherever it goes. I veered from the usual with my starter – a goat’s cheese and beetroot salad, then stuck with tradition and went for the eye fillet, followed by chocolate mousse – very Paris Hilton (rich and thick). Nicola had the seared tuna starter, arancini balls and banana caramel crepe.

After moving the car to a more convenient location, we walked the short distance to BATS Theatre, there to see Alice Brine perform Brinestorm. Alice informed us early on that she suffered from ADHD, and after about 15 minutes of being distracted by various things, got around to telling us what it was actually like to have ADHD, and her adventures with Ritalin. She was diagnosed late whilst at school, because she didn’t fit the usual pattern of ADHD, as she (a) wasn't male, and (b) didn’t throw chairs at teachers. Finally, she was prescribed Ritalin (or “methamphetamine”, “speed”, “P” as it’s known to everyone else) and learnt all the jargon about being neurotypical or otherwise. “If you haven’t heard the term “neurotypical” before, it means you are”.

At this point she unveiled her “brinestorm” – a large confection of cardboard on which she’d written down some of the things in her head. There were a lot.

She then regaled us with tales of her childhood, university life, flatting with 6 other women – a big piece on use of the bathroom mat here - and living with ADHD for the 40 minutes in the morning before the effects of the drugs kicked in. We found out about banjo strings in ways that we really didn’t want to know, and what people from the Hutt do when they’re in trouble. It was all delivered in a rapid-fire stand-up style, with the occasional haiku thrown in for good measure. Her definition of the haiku stretched a little beyond the conventional, it would be fair to say.

Alice Brine is relatively new on the stand-up scene, but I hope she’ll be around for years to come. If you get the chance, get to see this show.

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