GUSH: Love and Other Filthy Habits

Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

25/02/2011 - 26/02/2011

Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

22/03/2012 - 23/03/2012

Auckland Fringe 2011

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

Duelling Ukuleles, Tom Jones and Rohypnol all combine in this jam-packed jamboree of comedy, spoken word and songs that’s guaranteed to get your juices flowing.

Hot Pink Penny Ashton (Poetry Idol, Radio National NZ, Hot Pink Bits, Austen Found) and virgin sacrifice Matthew Harvey (Castleford Cub Scout Quiz Champion 1986) gush on love in all its glory, splendour and putrescence.

Is the Power of Love a force from above leading your soul… or does it just make you want to puke? Does the world now need love sweet love… or peace in the middle east? Did you just call to say you love me… or to tell me to piss off?

Either way Ashton and Harvey will keep you entertained as they spew forth their observations not only on love, but on Daves, Fabric Softener, the c word and Rodney Hide’s thong.

If you want to know what love is, they can show you. If you want to feel what love is … well that costs more.

Penny Ashton is a poet, comedienne, actor and improviser who has performed over 400 solo shows. In 2010 she performed at the Glastonbury Festival and headlined numerous UK Poetry Nights before heading to report at the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas. Her smash hit Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen also continued its sold out run from Adelaide to Auckland as did her show on the history of the sex industry Hot Pink Bits which toured throughout New Zealand breaking box office records as it went. (Tokoroa Little Theatre’s No. 1 show!!) Poetry Idol is also her brainchild which has become a mainstay of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival over the past 4 years.

“…brilliant….Poetry to make you hungry, horny and happy.” – Three Weeks – Edinburgh – 5 Stars

“…a whirlwind, energetic show…clever, fresh and genuinely entertaining.” – The New Zealand Herald

Matthew Harvey is a first time performer with a finely tuned Yorkshire wit complete with silly accent. His Mum thinks he’s great, and you will too. Cherry Popping Good.

“..leave that alone or you’ll go blind!” Mrs Harvey 

Gush: Love and Other Filthy Habits
Auckland Fringe Festival
Te Karanga Gallery, 208 Karangahape Rd
8pm, Book@
February 25th and 26th

1 hr

A little different, a little risqué and always fun

Review by Patrick Davies 23rd Mar 2012

A frequent visitor to Dunners, Penny Ashton always raises a good crowd and this was the case again last night in the Fortune Studio. A lot of repeat offenders wrangled their kin and friends to come and enjoy the titillating temptress who is never afraid to let rip on sex, love and boobs.

In Gush she has teamed up with her boyfriend Matthew Harvey to present an evening of poetry, song and fun. In this Fringe it is good to see a comedy show that has a bit of difference from the mainstream stand-up formats on offer. (No doubt there should be a forum on it: the place of stand up in Fringe festivals. Innovation? Experimentation? I don’t think so.)

Anyhoo, resplendent in their finest nunnery, Ashton and Harvey take the stage to start a slide into the heavenly delights of love and the serious sins in our minds – well, their minds, the show’s about them really. This is Harvey’s first overseas Fringe and he handles the audience like a pro. His poetry is seemingly simple in construction but is laced with pun, metaphor and wildly hilarious observations about the world, him and his love: Penny.

Penny is at the top of her game. She easily slides in and around the audience poking a well placed nod at everything from the ones who are left behind to those c**nts who still think size matters. She plays us like a drunken slapper and we love it. Her patter is so sweet she takes us on her journey and before you know it we are surrounded by rhymes as we realise we’re into another poem.

I have never heard so many geographical locations used as an aphrodisiac! This is not to say there are no still moments; her poem ‘Awesome’ is a real spine-tingler that lets us into her heart.

Interspersed with their ol’ ukuleles, a banjo and a guest instrument, the songs are just as whacky and funny, and both are in fine voice. While the topics range from our filthy habits and things Ashton and Harvey hate, they are always well constructed and beautifully performed poems that make us laugh and think about it at the same time.

The two highlights are each performer’s love poems about the other: quite marvellous. The joy these two are having with each other spills onto the stage and gushes all over the audience.

If you like your comedy a little different, a little risqué and always fun, then this is a fabulous show to grab a group together for. Have a few bubbles and laugh your arse off, especially at the finale (Matthew – that was very courageous and brilliant)! Go see it.  


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Poetic gems and comic brutalism

Review by Lexie Matheson 27th Feb 2011

There’s something very funny about Penny Ashton. Which is a relief since GUSH: Love and Other Filthy Habits is billed as a comedy.

It certainly is funny – very funny – but it’s much more than that. Those who know Ashton’s work will expect nothing less because Ashton is a consummate performer but this show packs a number of unexpected surprises with the most notable being Matthew ‘he’s my boyfriend’ Harvey.

Harvey is a Yorkshireman. It’s hard to fathom why just being from Yorkshire makes someone innately funny but it seems to. He’s tall – very tall – with many admirable physical attributes. Some of these are on show, some not, but Ashton leaves us in no doubt that those not quite so visible are pretty damned impressive notwithstanding. As this is an adult show we have to take her word for this and she is, as always, never short of a word or two. He is her boyfriend, after all. 

Despite this being Harvey’s first ever show – he is billed as the ‘virgin sacrifice’ – he has a talent that is truly equal to the task of sharing the stage with Ashton, and that’s saying a lot. He plays the ukulele competently, sings well, and performs, self-effacingly, a significant set of his own poetry with wee gems such as ‘What a Difference a Dave Makes’, ‘My Question for God’ and ‘I Want to Be Like Tom Jones’ winning over a well-primed audience.

His love poem to Ashton ‘I Quite Like You, I Do’ is totally scrumptious. Harvey is a likeable bloke and his writing is both accessible and articulately performed.

Following this set Ashton joins Harvey for a musical number based on the limerick form and their easy rapport makes this audience participation piece really fun. 

Then it is Hot Pink Penny Ashton at her vivid and rambunctious best which means no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is, 21st century comic brutalism. When Ashton has the stage no-one gets away, and we love it! Yet her loveable immediacy conceals an extraordinary craft and, while her audience doesn’t get to see the wheels chugging away, they surely are as she lands comic blow after comic blow and builds our expectation (and need) for more.

She has a genius for short narrative delivery best witnessed in her set-up for ‘The Angry Poem’ which ended with the audience joining her in chanting, with a glorious glee reminiscent of Eve Ensler in ‘The Vagina Monologues’, that ubiquitous C word. 

Surprise number two was realising the breadth of Ashton’s current artistic reach: the Kiwi male, the sexual politics of hip hop videos (who could disagree?), epilepsy, a deeply moving memento to her long deceased grandmother, her ‘Preachie Poem’ and some brief personalised reflections, as a Christchurch person, on the earthquake tragedy that is so much in our minds and hearts right now.

The emotional range traversed in a show of 60 minutes is simply extraordinary – rare in any form of theatre – and is perhaps best revealed in Ashton’s funny, gross, witty, sexy, lustful, touching and just plain rude love poem to Matthew ‘he’s my boyfriend’ Harvey, who must have been just itching to get his delectable goddess home after hearing all that!

Despite the excellence of all the above and the wonderful freedom of Ashton’s delivery, my personal favourite was the classically structured ‘Rohypnol Girl’ which induced tears of laughter and an unwanted reflux all in the same moment. 

Ashton’s sublime understanding of her physical power and her dancer-like consciousness of the messages she delivers with her body is surprise number three. She gains maximum value from a freedom to move that she has acquired over time. Few artists get this much value from the face in profile.

The final surprise is realising just how tight this seemingly fluid and spontaneous production was. This is credit to both performers and the trust they have in each other, their material and their audience. There is no greater art than the recreating of spontaneity and this show really achieves it.

Overall, a fabulous evening at the theatre with one artist at the absolute peak of her powers and the other at the start of a career which has immense potential. 

The Te Karanga Gallery performance space is attractive and intimate with the bonus of having good parking facilities nearby and a comfortable bar with excellent service. 

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust
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