Reviewer Ann Hunt says this delightful two-hander by Jan Bolwell and Mona Williams is a thoroughly enjoyable hour of stories and dance that will have you laughing out loud and may move you to tears.
Director/Raconteur Ralph McAllister skillfully opens the memory box of Bolwell’s and Williams’ lives.
The work segues between the pair’s reminiscences of growing up in Taierei Plain near Dunedin and British Guiana, first ballet performances and first dance classes, love and loss.
Never maudlin or unduly sentimental, their stories are interwoven with dance sequences that are charming, dramatic and hilarious.
Two talented stars
Bolwell is a respected playwright, performer, choreographer and the director of Wellington’s Crow’s Feet Dance Collective, the popular dance company for mature women.
Her most recent work is the acclaimed Circa production of Taking the High Ground, about two women mountaineers –an Australian and a Kiwi.
Williams is a Fulbright Scholar and Stanford University graduate, who has written about her life in the effervescent Bishops: My Turbulent Colonial Life, as well as numerous books for children.
She is also a consummate professional storyteller, who has delighted audiences throughout New Zealand and overseas for many years.
Audience participation, and light and shade
Sunday afternoon’s full house laughs, sings along and dances in their seats, as they watch Bolwell and Williams don colourful items of clothing and sashay through excerpts from South Pacific and Salad Days, in cheeky vaudevillian style; not forgetting their early dance classes in ballet, Highland Dancing and the contemporary contortions of Martha Graham.
Two of the show’s highlights are Bolwell’s puppet self-learning Highland dancing and Williams’ stunningly dramatic rendition of a Guyanan ritual.
But their lives, like most people’s, are not all fun and frolic. There is shade as well as light. Both women speak movingly of the sadness each has experienced involving divorce and illness, and it is very apparent that the audience relates strongly to these stories.
It is such a joy to participate – for that is what we do here – in a show that is relevant to, and which touches on, our own lives. Abstraction is all well and good, but sometimes one longs for the fires of real life and family, and this production gives us just that.
There are more performances this weekend at Te Whaea / Toi Whakaari, 11 Hutchinson Road, Newtown (The old winter show building!)
- Friday 22nd at 7.30 pm
- Saturday and Sunday 23rd and 24th at 4 pm
(This review first appeared in Theatreview.)