23/05/2018 - 26/05/2018
06/10/2018 - 07/10/2018
Femme Natale, an entertaining take on parenting and particularly motherhood comes to BATS theatre in May. Directed by Fingal Pollock, this is a play on motherhood like no other.
“Come and share with fellow Wellingtonian mums (and a token dad), a night of skits, comedy and revelry inspired by the extraordinary experiences of motherhood. Join us to celebrate that you’re surviving and thriving in the hardest job you’ll ever do.”
Fingal’s vision was to create an opportunity for fellow artists to vent, showcase and satirise their parenting experiences through the medium of theatre. In doing so, she has created a show that any actor parent could take part in: from rehearsals with babies to a backstage babysitter, this show allows creative mums (and the token dad) to take part in a unique show built for them. The cast is diverse in age, relationship status and experience but united in being jobbing parents.
Supported by Wellington City Council and Matahiwi Wines, this is a show with an innovative and intimate nature.
Fingal herself has two young children. She also has a successful acting and directing career including working with Clown Doctors New Zealand, Little Dog Barking Theatre Company and Hens’ Teeth since becoming a parent. Other cast members include multi-award winning playwright, filmmaker and actress of TV’s McPhail and Gadsby fame, April Phillips and many more…
We invite you to join us for our opening night on Wednesday 23rd May which will be followed by opening night drinks.
BATS Theatre, Wellington
23rd-26th May 2018
8pm and 2pm matinee on 26th
Palmy Fringe 2018
Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th October 2018
Sunday 7th October 2:30pm
BABES IN ARMS MATINEE
$17 Full, $14 Groups of 6+, $14 Concession
Devised and performed by Jeremy Nelson and Fingal Pollock
Performed by Esther Lewis
Written by Tracey Savage.
Performed by Tracey Savage and April Phillips
Written and Performed by Fingal Pollock
Boobies on Show
Written by April Phillips.
Performed by April Phillips and Tracey Savage
Written by Fingal Pollock and Jeremy Nelson.
Performed by Jeremy Nelson
Ladies Who Lunch
Written by Fingal Pollock. Dramaturgical help by Sherilee Kahui.
Performed by Tracey Savage, April Phillips, Sherilee Kahui.
Written and performed by Fingal Pollock
A Brother I Don’t Really Like That Much (Baby Daddy Love Song)
Written and performed by Bea Joblin.
Arranged by Imogen Holmstead-Scott
Keeping up with the Mumses
Written by Rachel Millar.
Performed by Fingal Pollock, Sherilee Kahui and Rachel Millar
I Wrote Her a Letter
Written by Katherine Wyeth.
Performed by Esther Lewis
Technician: Malcolm Gillett
Costumes: Jen Whitty, Fingal Pollock, Rasta Imposta Costumes
Set Design: Anaton Rottpeter (5 years old)
Theatre , Sketch ,
Hilarious, human, viscerally resonant
Review by Adam Dodd 07th Oct 2018
A lamentably relatable, utterly enjoyable show, Femme Natale makes its way to the Palmy Fringe Festival after a successful season at Wellington’s BATS Theatre.
Drawing deep from the notion that ‘comedy is truth, absurdity, and pain’, the combined talents of Fingal Pollock, Tracey Savage, April Phillips, Sherilee Kahui, Jeremy Nelson and Esther Lewis come together to present a somewhat pointed but thoroughly cathartic commentary on motherhood. Each of their contributions is distinct and personable, but in the interests of brevity I’ll leave it at saying they’re all awesome.
Rife with wry wit, more than a smattering of wordplay, and the intimate lives of personified private-parts – Femme Natale demonstrates a level of organisational finesse that comes only with the PhD-level qualification nobody gives you for being an awesome parent. The evening is a structured series of skits, songs, and stand-up comedy.
Even the transitions, punctuated with a bloody-minded glare, have us laughing aloud. It’s damned clever, but also honest: not all of parenthood is a laughing matter, and those realities are recognised too.
Hilarious and human in a viscerally resonant way. Femme Natale reminds us that there is something wholly selfless about becoming a mum – even if it’s just a brief out-of-character episode. Coming in at about an hour long, this is a great show to include as part of an evenings’ respite.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Review by John Smythe 24th May 2018
Every now and then a new generation of women feels compelled to bring the experience of motherhood back to the stage and when they do its invariably a popular show. Sarah Delahunty’s debut play Stretchmarks, with music by Michelle Scullion, was a massive hit at Circa in 1985. At the turn of the century a local production of Mum’s the Word (humorous monologues devised in Canada), directed by Ellie Smith, played to a packed Opera House in Wellington then in 2003 a combined Australian/New Zealand production toured the whole country. Also Circa debuted Elisabeth Easther’s award-winning Seed in 2015, about conflicting quests to either get pregnant or avoid it.
Now a fresh co-op of Wellington women brings us Femme Natale, billed as “a night of skits, comedy and revelry inspired by the extraordinary experiences of motherhood” – also described as “surviving and thriving in the hardest job you’ll ever do.” As with the aforementioned shows it entertainingly mines the ‘comedy is truth + pain’ vein to the great pleasure of women, who welcome its honest exposure of dimensions of the female experience that too often are considered unmentionable, and the enlightenment of men, who really do need to know and/or be reminded of this stuff. After all being conceived, born and raised (one way or another) are common denominators for everyone.
Starting with a climax may seem unusual but hey, doesn’t all human life begin that way? And when it’s simultaneous for both parties, all the better! But Fingal Pollock (also the director) reveals a woman’s intuition can pinpoint the actual moment of conception with surprising accuracy.
A snapshot of exhausted Mum and relaxing Dad speaks volumes to kick off ‘The Birth’, devised and performed by Pollock and Jeremy Nelson. His casual query as to what it is like to have a baby launches a ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenario where the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth are visited upon him with some very detailed commentary. Hilarity vies with the exposé of what it has taken to bring us all into the world.
Scene changes are conducted by Esther Lewis as a mute but bloody grumpy sanitary pad. Enough (un)said.
Tracey Savage has written ‘The Interview’ and plays Simone, the mother-of-two hoping to return to the workforce, to April Phillips’ HR officer, Paula. It ticks all the boxes for insightful commentary while compelling our concern for both women as we empathise with their dilemmas.
Phillips and Savage pair up again later to perform Phillip’s ‘Boobies on show’, which imagines a revealing and often poignant conversation between the quite different bosoms of a breast-feeding mother; one buoyant and up for it; the other down with the ‘baby blues’. Puns aplenty help to convey a level of consciousness few in the audience will have considered.
Spectacular costuming (credited to Jen Whitty, Fingal Pollock and Rasta Imposta Costumes) and witty word-play are also to the fore in ‘Ladies Who Lunch’, written by Fingal Pollock, which may more accurately be called ‘Labia Who Lunch’. Tracey Savage, April Phillips and Sherilee Kahui articulate the experiences, hopes and expectations of three differing ‘lady parts’, ranging from one who is highly active, another who is going through a dry spell and a late arrival who has recently given birth.
Meanwhile the chasm between a woman’s potential and what motherhood reduces her to in daily life is nicely bridged in Fingal Pollock’s ‘Quantum Nappies’ monologue. And in ‘Mantenatal’ (written by Pollock and Jeremy Nelson), Nelson plays a full-time Househusband who shares a letter from an anonymous man who will soon be in the same position. You can feel the tide of knowingness surge through the audience as we get who it is.
The prolific Pollock has another self-penned solo spot with ‘Mother Erotica’ in which the recurring line is “You’re on your own” – imagining the luxuries and delights of some simple pleasures others take for granted but which have become distant memories for mothers. Her sensual movements make the revelation of deprivation all the more moving.
Bea Joblin brings a change of tone with her exquisitely rendered Country & Western pastiche, (I love you like) ‘A Brother I Don’t Really Like That Much’ (Baby Daddy Love Song), revealing the long term effects of an extremely short-term encounter.
The penultimate sketch, ‘Keeping Up with the Mumses’ by Rachel Millar, finds three young mothers – played by Millar, Fingal Pollock and Sherilee Kahui; babies variously in a pushchair, car seat and front-pack – chatting on their yoga mats, inexorably illuminating their disparate lifestyles and value systems.
Having opened with a climax, the hour closes with a meditation on ‘control’, written by Katherine Wyeth and performed by Esther Lewis (now liberated from the sanitary pad). Its title, ‘I Wrote Her a Letter’, refers to the pre-natal optimism this mother had for her daughter and their relationship before the out-of-control realities of motherhood emerged. As with much of the material before, the joys and pains of parenthood are poignantly alleviated with pointed comedy-of-insight.
All up, Femme Natal is a show of revelations, equally welcomed and enjoyed by mothers, delighted to see their worlds reflected, and those whose lives are enriched for gaining a greater understanding of what it takes to give all of us life.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer