With more kiwis taking part in Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival than ever before, our favourite time of year just got a little brighter. Here are some of our returning favourites and hit-picks:
James Nokise: Talk a Big Game
Finding humour in everything from rugby to Brexit, James Nokise returns to Edinburgh with not one, but two shows at this year’s Fringe:
Britain, Let’s Talk About the Golliwogs – an eye-opening tale of the world’s most racist cuddly toy; along with his latest offering Talk a Big Game – which explores our need to put athletes on a ridiculously high pedestal.
A first-rate actor, writer and comedian, James’s stand up never disappoints. He’s also a man the Scotsman says is a joy to have on stage.
He brings intelligence too, so while you’re laughing out loud expect social commentary that’s – to coin a phrase – sharper than a serpent’s tooth.
Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds
With suits pressed and pocket squares perfectly folded, the Modern Māori Quartet (MMQ) delivers killer harmonies and old school cabaret. Singing everything from soul classics to their own compositions, they’re best described as a Maori Ratpack.
Last year we not only had the pleasure of seeing these boys perform, we also had to the chance to take them to dinner – see our interview here.
This year they’re back with their new show: Two Worlds, a performance full of heart and humour that sees MMQ return to its theatrical beginnings.
Exploring what it means to be Maori in the twenty-first century, expect a uniquely kiwi story with a rather a fabulous soundtrack.
Not in Our Neighbourhood
Tackling, quite brilliantly, the difficult topic of domestic abuse, Not in Our Neighbourhood has so far enjoyed several standout seasons in New Zealand.
Taking place in a women’s refuge, filmmaker Maisey Mata meets Sasha, Cat, and Teresa – women who’ve been abused by their partners, and now wrestle with despair and misguided loyalties.
Written and directed by award-winning playwright Jamie McCaskill, this powerful piece of theatre has also earned awards for Best New, New Zealand play and Best Female Actor.
Which is something that really won’t surprise you when you see the gorgeous Kali Kopae in action. Playing all but one of the roles, each scene more intense than the last, her work is truly stunning.
Rose Matafeo: Horndog
Comedian Rose Matafeo has kissed nearly ten men in her life. In other words, she’s a total hornbag. But what, she asks, is horniness? The intangible essence of excitement? A fire that flickers in our hearts? Or is it simply wanting to bone everyone, all the time?
Frankly, we’re pretty sure it’s the latter. But just in case it’s not, you’ll soon find us in the queue for Horndog – her brand new, and intriguing hour of comedy.
Of Samoan and Scottish descent, Rose began her stand up career at age fifteen, and it seems the early start has really paid off.
The Telegraph describes her as being one of the definite highlights of the Fringe. Her comedy’s award-winning, and she’s also appeared on the likes of W1A and Have I Got News For You.
Not bad for a total horndog …
A love letter from grandson to grandmother, Valerie is a wonderfully moving piece of theatre that promises exceptional writing and standout cabaret.
Through original music and spoken word, it explores the impact of mental illness, and what it’s like to live with someone slowly descending into paranoia and depression.
Created (in part) by Robin Kelly, anecdotes from his grandparents’ marriage are interspersed with matter-of-fact explanations about genetics and disease of the mind.
It’s a touching, but harrowing journey that sees Kelly’s grandmother Valerie go from worshipping her husband, to suffering shocking domestic abuse.
David Correos: The Correos Effect
It’s in the nicest way possible that we say: David Correos is stark raving mad. A man with little time for subtlety, or even clothing, you’ll be impressed with what he can do with paint, electrical tape, and a bread knife.
We had the absolute joy of seeing him perform last year, delivering comedy that’s both smart and gasp-out-loud shocking. Especially when he broaches such topics as his teenage circumcision, paid for with a two-for-one voucher.
But the real attention grabber was when he removed his clothes, doused himself in ready-mixed gin and tonic, then began to … Actually, we won’t spoil it.
Suffice to say, The Correos Effect will seriously blow your mind.
Without doubt, rugby is hardwired into New Zealand’s culture. The upside is being able to boast the world’s best rugby team. The downside is that everything else is forced to take a backseat.
In Bleeding Black, actor / writer Christopher Watts explores this bizarre phenomenon, and asks whether kiwis are too emotionally connected to their national sport.
Personally we think YES, but we’re keen to hear what Chris has to say. His solo performance began as an honours project at Victoria University, and was eventually transformed into theatre.
Telling the story of Sam – a young kiwi bloke, living in a rugby-mad world, under the roof of a rugby-obsessed father – things soon take a sharp turn for the worse.
Dark, funny, and very physical, we can’t wait to see this take on New Zealand’s most popular religion.
Eli Matthewson: The Year of Magical F*cking
The news is out … millennials are having less sex than their parents. In fact, one in eight are still virgins at age 26. Jesus!
Fortunately, comedian Eli Matthewson – described as the little gay rock star of New Zealand comedy – has decided to take up the cause.
Hoping to inspire his frigid peers and shake up the stats, Eli has generously embarked on a Year of Magical F*cking. So now, in his Fringe debut, he’d like to share his sexual awakening with the good people of Edinburgh.
A genius comedian, television star, and co-host of the Gayz Podcast, we’re reliably informed Eli is a man who knows how to nail a punchline every time. So, genuinely, we look forward to hearing all about his sex life …
Kiwis & Cobblestones
Celebrating New Zealand’s National Poetry Day, Kiwis & Cobblestones brings together some of the country’s most lyrical exports – James Nokise, Miss Leading, Sarah Hirsch, Name UL, Toi Warbrick and Ben Fagan.
The performance is a one-off [ August 24 ] offering humorous and touching stories of being far from home, bizarre cultural differences, and the challenges of having a kiwi accent.
Apparently, there will also be snacks.
Having previously enjoyed Ben Fagan’s take on everything from shopping at Sainsbury’s to what happens when you wear jandals in London, we’re looking forward to hearing what he and his fellow poets have to say.
The Basement Tapes
Boasting sell-out seasons and critical success down under, along with awards for direction, performance and production, The Basement Tapes now arrives at the Fringe.
It tells the story of a girl who, following the death of her grandmother, faces the overwhelming task of clearing out the basement.
She discovers a series of recordings made by her gran. But as she hits play her world slowly begins to unravel.
The tapes take on an eerie and confessional tone, leaving the audience wondering who really is the more reliable narrator: the grandmother or the girl?
Literally performed in a basement, with a dash of Twin Peaks, captivating light and sound design make this unusual performance all the more compelling.
The Moa Show
As well as Not In Our Neighbourhood, the talented Jamie McCaskill also brings us The Moa Show. On this occasion he’s one of the writers, and star of this one-man performance.
Part-comedy, part fairy-tale for adults, it tells the story of three oddball characters who can usually be found at a pub in Jamie’s hometown of Thames.
Magically, they’re transported to a mythical land through the charms of a Maori busker. To find their way home they must seek the wisdom of the all-seeing Moa, as well as escape the evil grips of a racist spotted kiwi and a frustrated thrush.
Sounds fabulous to us!