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Joy Dio

at Mexico: 74 Constable St, Newtown, Wellington
From 21 Feb 2014 to 1 Mar 2014
[Fri & Sat only]

Reviewed by Deborah Eve Rea, 23 Feb 2014

If you'd like to see someone perform aerial yoga on a bicycle suspended between two trees in a backyard cacti garden in Newtown, this is the show for you. 

We are told to have our phones on the loudest setting – “just don't answer it” – which is intriguing. We are then led to the most incredible secret garden full of giant cacti. There are scattered mix-matched chairs and mattresses for audience members; ropes and ladders hang from the trees. Moustachioed señors play live music on the house's wooden porch.

A woman, Flowers (the actor only identified as Marcia), appears on the roof and crawls around with a gun to the Mission Impossible theme. Answering her phone, we hear that she's “on a mission but will be home for dinner.” 

Sitting on her porch, Joy Dio tells us about the things she loves; including aerial yoga, her girlfriend Henry and her mother. Once discussed, these points are explored performativity through aerials, song, and dance.  

For example, Dio performs a bizarre dance-comedy segment set to ‘Let's Get Physical' because, well, Joy loves getting physical. To audience laughter, she jumps over a broom and rows across her porch on a skateboard in front of images projected onto a sheet. 

In addition, there are absurd exchanges with her clownish side-kick Flowers, whose phone rings throughout, interrupting her. 

In homage to her mother, Dio performs an aerial piece using tissu/silks resembling the womb. She swings over the heads of audience members and her drops finish just above their toes.

Part way through the show, Flowers returns as Seashells in a wetsuit, I'm not sure why. Nor do we ever hear more about her mission, nor does the ringing phone (including having our own turned on, for that matter) ever lead anywhere. 

There is only one back-light on this work. While the aerial work is quite beautiful in the moonlight, it would be more suitable to position the light to see Dio's face during her monologues. 

The performance finishes just as Dio finishes her day, with aerial yoga. I would quite like to live next to Dio and look over the fence now and then to see her hanging upside down between the cacti.    

At $18 this is one of the more expensive Fringe shows and it would be better set at koha. The show isn't ground-breaking but someone putting on a show for fun in their garden in Newtown is very Fringe – and the aerials are good.

If you do attend, make sure to bring $10 cash for some sangria. 

Two important disclaimers:

Please note, this show is NOTat Viva Mexico restaurant in Newtown which is a very easy mistake to make (tonight, made by six audience members). It's actually at ‘Mexico' which is the name given to the artist's private home on Constable Street. 

Rather than starting, the gate opens for this show at 8.30pm (tonight 8.40pm) so don't arrive too early unless you enjoy waiting outside in the Wellington wind on a Newtown roadside for 20 minutes. While we were treated to live music, the actual show did not begin until just after 9pm.

There are two main reasons why it's a problem to start so much later than expected.
1. Particularly with an outdoor, evening show, your audience have spent 40+ minutes sitting, waiting in the cold (including some time at the gate). As a performer, you now must win them back with your show, which is no easy feat for any performer.
2. Those audience members who have purchased tickets a 10pm Fringe show now can't go and they blame you. Let's try and keep relatively to schedule this Fringe season, folks!
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