Ella and Will

Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

15/02/2013 - 19/02/2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

Production Details

A Gothic Fairytale, A Love Affair, A Magical Experiment…

‘Ella & Will’ is a dance theatre show choreographed by Anita Hutchins premiering at the Wellington Fringe Festival 2013. 15-19 February 2013 at Whitireia Theatre, 25-27 Vivian Street Wellington. Duration approx. 80mins. It will be an awesome evening of entertainment, I promise 🙂


Dance, text, film, and live music combine to tell this fascinating Gothic Fairytale that is inspired by several 20th century occult novels, including ‘Moonchild’ written by occultist Aleister Crowley. 

Anita’s brand new work consists of an original story that has been devised over the past six years by herself and her scriptwriter Donna Banicevich Gera. 

“I love stories, and the thought provoking story of ‘Ella & Will’ is one that I have been wanting to tell for a long time. With its themes of ritual magic, and Gothic Fairytale style, it is a story very well suited to the medium of dance theatre – it is a lot of fun to choreograph!”

The show is brought to life by a talented and acclaimed cast of dancers. The headlining performers are Anna Flaherty, Will Barling (Auckland) and Tanemahuta Gray. The show’s original musical score is composed and performed by Wellington Jazz musician Mostyn Cole. 

Anita is a former international ballet and contemporary dancer who has worked alongside some of the world’s most acclaimed dancers and choreographers. Anita has a proven track record of high achievement as a professional dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, adjudicator, and university graduate.

Anita’s most well recognised achievement in New Zealand is winning TV3’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (2006). The last time Anita was involved in the Wellington Fringe Festival (2005) she won the award of ‘Best Dance Piece’ for her show ‘Eye Candy’. 

You can buy tickets through Whitireia Theatre via the following linkhttp://www.thetheatre.co.nz/shows-and-events/

Anna Flaherty, Will Barling (Auckland) and Tanemahuta Gray. The show’s original musical score is composed and performed by Wellington Jazz musician Mostyn Cole.

1hr 45mins

A gothic fairtyale with no real heart of darkness

Review by Ann Hunt 21st Feb 2013

This Gothic fairytale, inspired by occultist Aleister Crowley’s novel Moonchild, has more problems than you can shake a stick at (or in this case a staff).

Written in 1917 and published in 1929, it doubtless seemed very dastardly then. But in 2013 it just appears naff. People wafting around in long black cloaks with candles remind one of 1950s girls’ boarding school stories, where crypts abounded, but nobody really did anything evil. There is an awful surface occultness about the work, but no real heart of darkness.

The director, producer, choreographer/set designer, Anita Hutchins, and the Oncunscious Corps (yes, it is spelt that way) have created an overlong show (opening night ran at two minutes under two hours, almost an hour longer than the printed programme) which lacks pace, cohesion and clarity.

Read the review


Old Crow February 26th, 2013

Dearie me, yet *another* idiot "reviewer" scuttles on by, mumbling dastardly and fallaciously conflating the book and the show!  Do these reviewers collude? Another was seen sneaking into the theatre mumbling about being anonymous and dropping leaflets for her own Fringe Festival show!  

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Enormous potential and uniqueness

Review by Lyne Pringle 21st Feb 2013

Anita Hutchins has mounted an ambitious production that is the result of a considerable period of research and development. Based on the book Moonchild by British occultist Aleister Crowley, this is intriguing subject matter for a theatre work –  the quest for the ‘knowledge of the hidden’ that informs occult practices. As the programme states, the director/producer/set designer/choreographer has indeed gathered together a talented crew to manifest her vision.

Will Barling, Anna Flaherty, Sandra Norman Shaw, Aleasha Seaward, Jillian Davey, Andrew Millar, Lara Strong and Hutchins herself, all perform from their hearts with a quiet, gentle focus to a rich score (recorded and live) from Mostyn Cole. Their almost tentative performance mode, however, means that even though the Oncunscious Corp give their all, the full dramatic potential is not yet realized, and that weakens the thrust of their narrative.

“From extensive dissertations on magic and spiritualism, we are suddenly switched into humour that is sometimes normal, sometimes sardonic. From a glimpse into the blackest mysteries of Hecate, we are transferred to a wonderful white vision of the poets” – a review of the book that equally could be applied to Ella and Will. The work is also steeped in allegory, and at times satire, as it ambles in shambolic fashion for 2 hours;  only lifting beyond an amble in terms of theatrical pace on a couple of  occasions.

This problem of pace, dynamic, rhythm, energy, drama, drive, surprise, pervades the work and is its greatest flaw. This show needed the robust outside eye of a good dramaturg.

I mention the length of the work, not in terms of my attention span, but rather as a viewer challenging the asumption that it will sustain our  interest. Are we kept guessing? Are we are invested enough in the characters to continue to engage with the action onstage?  At  1 hr 16 mins I looked at my watch – the piece had lost me at this point, and for the next 44 minutes I became aware that my seat was uncomfortable and that I was having to ‘work’ really hard to stay in the ‘play’ waiting for a ‘pay off’ from this effort that never really arrived.

There is a delicious filmic quality to the production – the set is manipulated around the players as if they are moving through shifting time and landscapes. The ‘choreography’ of these objects is quite wonderful, and all the performers deserve congratulations for realising this intricacy with ease. Once again however, endless repetitions mean this device loses its impact.

A lovely tinge of subtle humour springs up occasionally. This is revealed when genres mash up against each other in naive and unexpected ways;  bold and original it often almost works, though further interrogation of these moments could lead to a clearer sense of tone and language of  the, entire work.

Whilst I am a fan of mixing genres, this work becomes swamped in objects and props and a mish mash of performance modalities that in the end lack a core muscular investigation  They erquire a definitive movement language that is imaginative, compelling, visceral and intricate enough to support the intense, over-complicated intentions of the director, and choreography which effectively knits the work together.

There is a strong moment when Anita Hutchins joins the group to perform a movement pattern with a repeated chant about Love, delivered to the four directions of the compass. Starting West with their backs to u,s I am intrigued as the earthy movement conjures a deeper realm of ancient ritual where ‘things are not as they seem’.  Their long black cloaks become more powerful, and I stop thinking of “eyes wide shut, Potteresque” connotations and become immersed in a story that is essentially about love and wise choices.

This would have been a great beginning for the work, a pattern that could be used as a segue, dispensing with some of the other tedious repetitions, cutting out surplus action and video footage, not ‘showing’ us everything but tantalising instead with a brief image or moment. Audiences are clever once the intention of a piece is clarified and ideas are distilled to their essence.

There is enormous potential and uniqueness in this artist’s voice, as there is in the community she has gathered around her to manifest Ella and Will. A separation of her creativity from her ego (hard I know), and a dialogue with somebody who really knows about shaping a work will yield rich results.


Simon Taylor February 26th, 2013


Hecate February 26th, 2013

The review quotes two sentences from a book review.  My guess is they were cut and pasted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonchild_(novel)

Normally a quoted section would be sourced in some way. Wouldn't it?

The reviewer calls her quotes a "review of the book that equally could be applied to Ella & Will".  Really? Please read those sentences again. Where are the "extensive dissertations on magic and spiritualism", where is Hecate?  

This all gives a totally spurious impression of research, and only the very credulous are hopefully taken in.

Jillian Davey February 24th, 2013

Hi Lyne,

I'd like to thank you for your intelligent and obviously, researched review.  Despite the views of a hurt director, (I suppose understandable, as she's spent years dreaming of manifesting this show) I feel it was full of constructive criticism and accurate descriptions of the work.  Thank you for taking the time to present something of value.

I admire Anita greatly for her determination and commitment to her vision.  Like any other strong-minded choreographer/director, she demanded a lot from her cast and crew, but we were rewarded with a living wage (a rare thing indeed) and the knowledge that we worked hard for her.  It's regretful that she feels the need to vindicate her skills, but we're all entitled to our opinions; reviewers and directors alike.

Thank you again.

Kind regards,

Jillian Davey

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