BATS Theatre, Wellington

23/02/2012 - 26/02/2012

NZ Fringe Festival 2012

Production Details


Troublesome neighbours? Difficult spouses? Offensive bosses? Never fear! The Improv Divas (NZ’s only all woman improv act) are here with a brand new show that takes on the hassles of modern life and offers purely improvised solutions. Taking inspiration from the magazine columns & TV style ‘Agony Aunt’ programmes of old, Divas and the Beast will be serving up performances to both educate and delight the audience.

“We all grew up with Mum’s magazines and the incredible advice columns that were read over a cup of tea and a biscuit,” says new Diva Kate Wilson. “The Divas believe we can go one better – live, spontaneous answers to our audience’s most difficult dilemmas.”

Divas and the Beast sees four very different characters seek to make sense (and sometimes not) of the problems presented to them by you the audience. Witness an hour of advice: sought, sorted then translated through improvisation – all questions will be attempted, though it is likely that more will be raised!

This year’s cast is an entirely new generation of Divas, proudly carrying on the Improv Divas tradition of innovative improv by women, for women (and the people who love them).

“Diva shows always take the audience to a place beyond just a woman’s perspective”, says Jennifer O‘Sullivan, former Diva and current production mentor. ”I am constantly surprised by the often hilarious, touching, and bizarre scenes that appear from audience suggestion & the realms of the collective Diva mind. It’s a wonderful experience for the audience and the players alike.”

The 2012 Improv Divas are:

Hanna Pickersgill as Felicity Handcock, a straight talking, high powered successful business woman.
Now an ‘honorary kiwi’, Hanna hails from across the ditch and is now a devoted Wellingtonian. Last seen in WIT festival shows CSI Wainui and Battle of WITs.

Nicola Pauling as Anantha, a channeller of spirit guides, ancient Indian Gurus and lost pets.
A performer and theatre facilitator with Voice Art Trust, Nicola joined WIT two years ago and has become a regular at WIT shows, featuring in The Young and the WITless V and WIT Dreamz.

Mary Little as Cherry, a scatterbrained young woman whose YouTube advice series turned her into an overnight internet success.  Mary joined WIT in 2011 and has been a regular at Wednesdays with WIT.

Kate Wilson as Margaret Hopkins-Kensington, the show’s host, a woman determined to bring back manners and etiquette to the modern world. In her short time as an improviser Kate has had the opportunity to perform both in New Zealand and Australia, being part of the Kiwi contingent at Improvention (Canberra),Australia’s premier improvisation convention. She is drawn to the truthfulness of improv and is never afraid to show true emotions on stage. 

The capital is in for a real treat with Divas and the Beast – coming to the Wellington Fringe Festival 2012 at the wonderful BATS Theatre. Challenge your senses to an emotional roller coaster to entice and intrigue, and perhaps even take home some good Kiwi advice… 

Divas and the Beast  
Dates: Thurs 23rd Feb  – Sun 26th Feb 8pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Tickets: Full $16 / Conc $13 / Groups 8+$13 
Booking: Call 04 802 4175 or visit www.bats.co.nz  
Show Duration: 1 hour  

CAST: Mary Little, Nicola Pauling, Hanna Pickersgill and Kate Wilson 

Music:  Erin Upjohn-Beatson  
Lighting:  Darryn Woods  
Graphic Designer:  Ali Little 


A good concept well executed

Review by John Smythe 24th Feb 2012

Back in the day, Beauty and the Beast was a TV studio-based format where an older man (Selwyn Toogood in NZ) chaired a changing panel of ‘agony aunts’. But The Improv Divas – born of the Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT) – don’t do men on stage. (Should I rephrase that? They’re an all women performing team.)

In this new premise for an improv show – billed as “TV’s Beauty and the Beast meets Desperate Housewives – the ‘beast’ is the furry pink red-horned box in which the problems (also called ‘beasts’), that we the audience have anonymously written on pink sheets of paper in the foyer, are placed.

Each Diva is a well-defined character type. Kate Wilson is our impeccably well-mannered hostess, Margaret Hopkins-Kensington. Mary Little is social media-savvy Cherry. Nicola Pauling is Anantha, our portal to the realm of spirit guides and Gurus. Hanna Pickersgill is high-powered business woman Felicity Handcock: “I put the purr unto entrepreneur.”

A ‘beast’ is plucked from the box, the Divas discuss it, a key advice concept quickly emerges and they proceed to act it out as Erin Upjohn-Beatson adds mood music and Darryn Woods mans the lighting board.

Opening night ‘beasts’ include getting old and creaky, chocolate addiction, an incontinent cat, the toilet seat being left up, an evil sister, a Patrick Swayze-obsessed flatmate, being too busy in so-called ‘retirement’, an inconsiderate husband (re the recycling) and being in love with two people.

A majority of the scenarios play out well, more often than not in kitchens, with the character types being well assigned and a number of improv devices being judiciously applied.

A good concept well executed. 


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