Vogelmorn Bowling Club, 93 Mornington Rd, Brooklyn, Wellington

17/02/2016 - 20/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Join with self-professed Guru Rach as she shares her secrets on personal transformation, spiritual awakening and letting go. This promises to be a blissful dip into the cosmic ocean. An intimate satire on new age madness, with chai. 

A former member of Binge Culture, this is a first for Wench and is devised and performed by Rachel Baker.

Housed at the new community venue, Vogelmorn Bowling Club, up in the heady heights of Brooklyn, Guru Rach, invites you to experience the tranquility of the suburbs.

Vogelmorn Bowling Club can be reached by taking the no 7 bus from town stopping at the Mills Road at Fortunatas Street stop 6724 followed by a two minute stroll to the venue.

Guru Rach will be patiently waiting. Welcome to the journey.

Vogelmorn Bowling Club, 93 Mornington Rd, Brooklyn, Wellington
7:30pm Feb 17-20, (50 min)
BOOKINGS: TICKETS: $15/$12/$10  

Design by Poppy Serano
Mentor:  Jo Randerson   

Theatre , Solo ,

More needed to really make it sing

Review by Thomas LaHood 18th Feb 2016

And Then She Let Herself Go lures the spiritually curious into the mysterious suburban backwater of Vogelmorn to attend a meditation retreat at the former Bowling Club.  It’s a kitschy building, rather run-down, and quite breezy and creaky in the North-Westerly on opening night, giving the show a sombre, even slightly creepy undertone. 

The meditation teacher is brusque, and somewhat jaded, but she appears to know her stuff. Soon she has us all sitting in our own space, eyes closed, and we’re concentrating on our breathing. Perhaps predictably the process begins to go off the rails as the visualisation exercises become more peculiarly specific and personal. 

This is a solo offering from Rachel Baker, formerly of Binge Culture Collective. It retains recognisable Binge-like qualities in its preponderance of listed images and visualisations, sensory experimentation beyond theatrical norms and a loose, organic structure with plenty of audience interaction. 

ATSLHG also trades heavily on Baker’s own ‘dreaminess.’ As a performer she has an earthy, laconic presence, her delivery almost slurred at times. This gives her burned-out new-ager character a base-level authenticity that keeps the performance from chiming any bum notes, but it’s also the quality that prevents the piece from achieving its potential dynamism. 

This production has charm and an intimate, personal feel which is pleasant to take part in but it suffers from many missed opportunities to extend the material into the realms of the unexpected.  Crucially, when the performance is mostly aurally experienced (i.e. we are listening with our eyes closed), the vocal performance has to do most of the grunt work.  Baker doesn’t show us enough range or technique here to lift the proceedings; instead the rhythm and tone become plodding.  So many opportunities to play with silence, with unexpected noises, but these are explored only cursorily and without real dramatic momentum.  I would have loved to discover more about ‘Rachel the guru’ through the tone rather than the content of her words. 

Similarly, each time we break the tyranny of having our eyes closed we hope for a more exciting reveal but again the opportunities here are largely missed. Without lighting of any kind at all, and on an overcast night, the dimness of the space adds to the lack of visual stimulation and creates an unformed, murky atmosphere.

In the absence of much visual storytelling or oral technique the text ends up telling the tale. As the narrative teases out, it reaches a satisfyingly unhinged climax and the final scene coheres the drama effectively. I know for a fact that the finale does not go according to plan on opening night but it still provides the biggest laugh for me, and it’s great that the show ends with a bang. 

Baker and director Isobel MacKinnon are clearly theatre-makers who evolve their work instinctively and organically, and this is the type of production where you’re likely to see significant differences to the show every single night. Baker has a lot to discover yet, to really make this production sing, but as any new-ager worth their Himalayan sea-salt will tell you: the journey is the destination.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council