Monday, April 22, 2019

Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin is Back. That’s the name of his new tour, which contains “old songs, new songs, fuck you songs” according to his publicity. He’s not toured for seven years (we last saw him in the UK) so when this was announced, I was all over it like a rash. Possibly too rash-like, it turns out, because we were allocated seats in the second row of the stalls, so we were looking up to the stage.

First, though, we have to stuff our fat faces, as is tradition. On this occasion, with an 8pm start, we could take our time over dinner, and so decided to revisit the scene of many a lunch and dinner in the past, Wellington’s finest, Logan Brown. At one time I was visiting this establishment so regularly that I started calling it the staff canteen. As it is, we’ve not actually been here for a while, so it’s always worth checking out whether it’s still Wellington’s finest. You’ll be relieved to hear that it is.

We then walked along to the Michael Fowler Centre, which we’d managed to park nearby earlier (all the better for a quick getaway), and bumped into one of Nicola’s chorus colleagues. Then we took our seats, discovering quite how close to the stage we were. There’d been a delay with opening the doors to the general public, and so the show started about ten minutes late. What was the problem? Tim explained: “Apparently, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has been in here today, rehearsing. Making me late! Fuckers!”

The stage set was quite simple, with a black backdrop and his piano in front of it. He gave us a couple of songs, Plane Goes Down and F Sharp, and told us how he loved us more than his kids. “They never cheer when I come into a room!”, gave us some interesting facts about statistics and bell curves, and was generally funny. A few songs in and he’s doing Rock & Roll Nerd, a song about wanting to be in a rock band, and failing, when the backdrop falls down, there’s banging of drums and the squeal of guitars, and behind the backdrop there’s…a rock band! Wow! How cool is that? So he plays the rest of the song with an actual rock band, who then provide backing for the rest of the show.

The rest of the set contained songs as advertised, including a 8½ minute rock opera dedicated to cheese, Woody Allen Jesus (with audience participation), and other songs old, new and fuck-you. There was Leaving LA, a song about leaving LA (no shit, Sherlock!), which he introduced as “the very definition of white privilege: writing a song whining about how your $100 million singing cartoon film project has been cancelled”. Interspersed, as always, with his comments on life in general, his family, and other comedic targets. Go see if you get the chance!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Children

Circa Theatre’s main offering for April is The Children, a play which opened at the Royal Court Theatre in 2017, and has now been produced in New Zealand. The play centres on three people dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear disaster caused by a tsunami, in a reflection of the 2011 Japanese Fukushima tsunami. All three actors are veterans of New Zealand’s screen and stage, and we’ve seen them many times both at Circa and on TV and film, including The Hobbit.  

As it was an early show, we decided to have a glass of wine at Noble Rot beforehand, and dine afterwards. Noble Rot is Wellington’s premiere wine bar (admittedly, from a pretty small field – most of the wine bars of yore have shut up shop) but they are only open of an evening, so when we’re usually in the area (Cuba Street) we’re looking for lunch, so don’t get there much. We took advantage of their early evening opening, and then walked along to Circa for the show.

There’s been a tsunami. The nuclear power station has been damaged, and the surrounding area contaminated. Two of the physicists who worked there have left their home inside the exclusion zone, and decamped to a cottage just outside the irradiated area, where they live a simple life of organic vegetables and compost toilets. A former colleague, Rose, turns up, and they start talking, and arguing about, what, if anything, they should be doing as a consequence. A lot of the past is dug up and raked over, and newer things also come up. In the end, a kind of decision is reached, and we all go home somewhat more enlightened than when we arrived. It’s powerfully done, not least because it’s so understated.

Afterwards we decided to give Pico Bar & Eatery another try, as it’s very conveniently located. I tried their burger this time, which was competently executed, and Nicola had the gnocchi. Again, these were done well, but I can’t help feeling that this place is now a shadow of its former self. Hopefully they’ll bring their 'A' game when WOAP starts in a few months.