Wednesday night is theatre night, and at the moment there is the WTF! going on in Wellington. WTF is WTF!, I hear you ask? It’s the Women’s Theatre Festival at Circa, and therefore there’s a lot of women on stage, writing, directing, and all the other things that go in in a theatre. One of the showpiece events is Modern Girls In Bed, which features a number of women. In bed. What’s not to like about that?
We went for a quick dinner at Monte Cervino beforehand. Monte Cervino has risen from the ashes that were Matterhorn, after they had to leave the building which they had occupied for some 55 years. This was because next door, a heritage building, had been damaged in the Kaikoura quake of 2016. In order to strengthen and save this, buildings on both sides needed to be vacated. Fortunately, in Wellington’s ever-changing restaurant scene, new premises were quickly found on Tory Street, and it was resurrected as Monte Cervino (which is what the folks on the Italian side of the border call the Matterhorn). We’ve been there a couple of times already, and found it a useful venue as they do the now-ubiquitous “sharing plates” with style and panache. We started with a pizzetta, followed by raw fish, meatballs, and broccoli. We finished in plenty of time to stroll along Tory Street to get to Circa.
Modern Girls In Bed features, unsurprisingly, a bed as the centrepiece of the set. On it is 18-year-old Ally, who invites her bestie, Petra, for a “bed-in”. They’re going to bed, and not getting up for the rest of their lives. Petra is initially dubious, as she has a shift at Countdown in a few hours. As they lie in bed, a number of women appear from between the covers: first Katherine Mansfield, then Kate Sheppard, Heni Pore, Helen Hitchings, and Akenehi Hei. They discuss the idea of going to bed as a cure, and interact with each other. All being from different eras, they often have contradictory ideas of how women should behave – Sheppard is horrified by the idea of having a baby whilst being Prime Minister; and at one point Mansfield is referred to as “Katherine Mansplain”.
All very interesting and that, but it’s the second half where things start to come together. Ally and Petra are still in bed, but the other characters have morphed into their mother and aunts. Also, it becomes clear exactly why Ally has taken to bed in the first place. It’s interesting the way the characters retain elements of their previous incarnations – one aunt is a writer, expecting a summons to a symposium in Europe, whilst another (guess who?) has become a Green MP and is now in government. They all, in their various ways, rally round, cajole and berate Ally for her behaviour, whilst bitching between themselves, and getting drunk.
OK, some parts are a bit contrived, but it’s a jolly romp and even the serious parts don’t take themselves too seriously. In the end, you have to become a grown-ass woman. And wear hot pants (or trousers) in like-minded company.