Christchurch Arts Centre - The Backstage Social Club, Christchurch

11/02/2020 - 16/02/2020

World Buskers Festival 2020 | BREAD & CIRCUS

Production Details

Cal’s been at this whole life thing for a while now, but she still hasn’t quite nailed it.  

How can you reach your potential when someone left it on the top shelf?

Cal’s not sure if she has imposter syndrome or if she’s just faking it. Everyone else seems to have got it together but she’s still not sure she has all the pieces.

Why don’t people pull over for ambulances? Has she done enough with her life? Does anyone eat Brussel sprouts by choice? Cal has questions about everything, which makes her annoying to watch a movie with.

As seen on her Netflix special ‘Things I’ve Thought Out Loud’.

Warnings: Coarse Language, Adult Themes

The Backstage Social Club – The Arts Centre
11 -16 Feb 2020

Theatre , Stand-up comedy ,

1 hr

Appears to be casual and off the cuff but is impeccably, tightly crafted

Review by Erin Harrington 13th Feb 2020

This year’s Bread and Circus World Busker’s Festival has had a strong emphasis upon stand up comedy, and it’s a treat to have Melbourne-based Cal Wilson (Burnside High alum, necessary information in Christchurch) return to the city with her latest show. Wilson is a high energy comic, here accompanied by a giant shimmering projection of her grinning face on one of the walls. This gives the impression that we’re being watched over by a cheerful fairy godmother with a penchant for brightly coloured frocks, great shoes and statement necklaces.

I really love Wilson as a performer. She’s warm and personable, and incredibly quick. Her rapid-fire observational stories and jokes, which deal with day-to-day family life, aging, incidents in supermarkets and malls, and enounters with randoms, work to probe the ways that we relate to one enother, as partners, family, friends, and strangers. They are also gently insistent in their affirmation of respect for ourselves and others. Issues of consent, sexuality and bodily autonomy are dealt with in a wry but firm manner. Wilson is definitely the person you want on your side during a Christmas day argument with your racist cousin.

Her set is also impeccably, tightly crafted – the sort of hour where you look back and see how cleverly and subtly the set ups and call backs have been constructed. Although her presentation appears to be casual and off the cuff, there are a couple of gags – one, in particular, relating to her recent Netflix Comedians of the World special – that highlight Wilson’s capacity for physical comedy and characterisation. It’s very satisfying. I’m hoping that she’ll be performing next week at the Christchurch live recording of UK-based The Guilty Feminist podcast, on which she’s a regular co-host, so that I can have a second helping.

My companion and I have a terrific time, the room is warm and receptive, and it’s clear from a post-show eavesdrop that the audience is buzzing afterwards. If I have one complaint, though, it’s the size of the audience – perhaps fifty? It just seems wrong. I understand the the festival, in its second year of its current iteration, is (re)building capacity, and there may be knock on effects for audiences with the shift from a condensed ten day mid-January festival to one that is spread out over a number of weeks a bit later in the summer. The first thing that comes to mind is the start of the school year, which eviscerates the wallets of those with kids. The price points this year for shows are definitely higher, as the festival looks to train audiences away from the past, well-established model, where you pay a lower ticket price and then chuck rolled up tenners in the hat in the way out.

Nonetheless, there appears to be a disjuncture between the high quality of the shows and the number of bums on seats. It’s not that there isn’t a taste for comedy; a Tom Sainsbury gig at Little Andromeda, which seats a bit over 100, has sold out three shows, then added and sold out three more this coming weekend. It’s not that the festival doesn’t have a reputation for great comedy gigs; I’ve been to loads of sold out shows in previous years. And it’s not that Wilson doesn’t have great (inter)national name recognition, alsongside the added bonus of a ‘hometown girl made good’ halo.

It just seems to be a massive shame that there’s some sort of break in the connection between act and willing audience, and that excellent shows from quality artists are playing to small rooms in a city that genuinely, honestly loves this stuff. It’s frustrating. Please don’t think poorly of us, Cal, we love you. You can make fruitbat noises at us any time.


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