This heading is not totally accurate as one of the shows consists of four different shows. You only need to buy one ticket to see the four shows, so for two tickets you can see five shows. Confused? Welcome to the reviews for Stages of Cheer  and A Christmas Karel Čapek at BATS Theatre!

(Bring a can of food or an unwrapped new gift to donate to The Wellington City Mission and receive your tickets at the concession price OR grab the two for one voucher from the Wellington Advent Calendar.)


Review: Stages of cheer: four festive plays

The four festive plays have been inspired by Christmas, but they all have a slightly absurd twist to them. First up is David Klein in ‘It’s an Infinite Christmas!’ This is a rather lovely exploration of physics/philosophy, specifically the multiverse theory. Klein’s measured presentation is offset by nice touches of theatricality. It’s a good introduction to the evening. Next up is Big Lies with ‘Crossbow Cat’. Josephine Byrnes and Abby Howells star in this cross-species drama about a revenge and redemption. Byrnes and Howells perform the roller-coaster of emotions their characters go through very well with the power in the relationship (I use that term loosely) shifting constantly. After a short interval we’re back with Making Friends Collective with ‘Alien Customs’. We watch the struggle between Dr Orno and Officer Ramphy who wants to get her processed so he can go home and celebrate Rodan Beakington Day. Unfortunately Dr Orno may be bringing in banned material. Traditional Christmas decorations are examined and explained. Harriet Hughes and Andrew Clarke are fine puppeteers and the puppets by Anna Stuart are very cute. Finally, Apple Box Brand presents ‘How to Plan a Perfect Christmas’. Sasha Tilly performs as Tasha in a semi-improvised play about the sadder side to Christmas while director Jake Brown offers suggestions from the lighting box. There’s some singing and tips to make Christmas day celebrations go as well as possible. Tilly is charming so it’s nice that the play ends on a positive note. Mc-ing all the way through is Santa Claus (played very well on opening night by Jonny Paul.)

All profits from Stages of Cheer will be donated to Wellington Women’s Refuge and Te Whare Rokiroki, Maori Women’s Refuge.


Review: A Christmas Karel Čapek by David Lawrence (with thanks to Charles Dickens, Karel Capek, Isaac Asimov)

David and Brianne are anticipating Christmas – Brianne with joy and excitement, and David with more than a little misanthropy. In order to escape from his Christmas responsibilities, David builds a robot. He‘s going to get the robot to do all the things he doesn’t want to do like interacting with other people.  Brianne is appalled. The robot could do so many wonderful things; it could save humanity, and, and…the pandas!

Trouble ensues.

Following the structure of A Christmas Carol by Dickens there are all the shenanigans of a regular Bacchanals show – songs, in-jokes, a little bit of political commentary, and self-referential meta-theatrical gags. David Lawrence and Brianne Kerr play exaggerated versions of themselves with hilarious results. They know exactly how to stretch a moment in order to wring the most comedy from it. Salesi Leota is outstanding as the narrative connector who links the scenes together although I think he’d probably have to compete with Jean Sergent for the most popular character in this show.

While you’ll get the most enjoyment if you know a bit about the Bacchanals, their previous plays, and Wellington Theatre, but there’s enough silliness and fun even if you know nothing about these things. I recommend eating before you go. (And you should go.)