It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that no endeavour is worth even the most cursory of considerations unless it has won an award. In a world that is ridden with culture, we, as cultured humans, will take any direction we can. As we drown beneath tidal waves of things to see, hear or know, awards are our life preservers, keeping our heads above the tide. So in the interest of drilling home which shows you should really feel bad for having missed, I present to you… the First Annual FishHead Theatre (and Associated Performing Arts) Awards for Exceptional Acts of Entertainment, Interest or Excellence. I call them the Fishies, because then I can get a ‘Something Fishies going on’ gag in here somewhere.
The first Fishie is the Most Acting Award for Best Solo Show. It was a strong year for shows about young white women making overly earnest solo works about big issues wherein they play at least ten characters (one of which needs to be a comic elderly person and other a well-meaning but thick rural jock).
The two shows that rose to the top to tie for the award were Renee Lyons’ Nick: An Accidental Hero, which owned its audiences with an intricate depth and intimacy; and Emily Taylor’s Cannonball, which made up for its borderline incoherent plot with Taylor’s constantly surprising characters – some of whom you’d be hard pressed to recognise as the same person unless you hadn’t seen the transformation before your very eyes.
There’s the Obligatory Mention of the Closing of Downstage Award for Best Inevitable but Still Sad Passing of a Loved One That Probably Really is for the Best in the End, which goes to, well, Downstage. For Best Break-up, Paul Waggott and Erin Banks in Tribes pipped both Paul Waggott and Erin Banks in Broken River, and Paul Waggott and Erin Banks in Joseph K, to the post.
Worst Poster goes to no one, because I’ve decided it was mean-spirited since I started typing this sentence. But seriously, there are, like, three graphic design schools in this city, so there is no excuse for all the ugly posters this year. Best Circa Show (Charming Two-hander in Circa Two Category) goes, easily, to the powerful Red, but a very big mention should go the very delightful “play with songs”, Midsummer.
The Awards are Just Politics Award for Most Robbed Show goes, without a doubt, to The Road That Wasn’t There, Trick of the Light’s big, warm hug of a show for children that somehow managed to make it through all three major Fringes without a single award – an injustice I have now rectified. I also hear whispers that it’s back next year.
And, of course, the Oh, I Had Tickets, I Just, Something Came Up! Award for Show You Should Regret Missing the Most goes to the hysterically distorted journey through imagination that was Squidboy. If I could see any of the year’s shows again, this would be it. It may have simply been one man in a black box playing silly pretend, but when you’re doing it as well as Trygve Wakenshaw was, well, you don’t need anything else. Best show of the year being about a squid? Something Fishies going on![info]
December Theatre Recommendations
The No Fefe Collective, which brought us the large-cast political satire PSAs straight from the genius pen of James Nokise, is trying something a little different this silly season with PSA: Christmas with Celia, a scaled-down but no less scabrous one-woman trip through the year in politics. It’s at BATS (bats.co.nz) from 10 to 14 December.
Circa (circa.co.nz) has two holiday offerings for you to choose from. There is traditional pantomime, with Michele Amas’s take on Mother Goose, which promises to be a delicious, decadent slice of family fun. And they’re also bringing back Ray Henwood’s charming public reading of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which runs until 21 December.[/info]