LIFT-OFF! 2023

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

21/02/2023 - 25/02/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

Directed, written and performed by Adriana Calabrese and Aria Leader-Fiamatai

Presented by TE AUAHA

A one-stop shop of unmissably fresh talent!

The festival’s sampler of fresh emerging talent is back for its fourth year running! Kick-off your 2023 Fringe season with a fix of brand-new work. An hour of “Special, clever, charming and mesmeric” performances from exciting artists emerging onto the Capital’s performing arts scene.

“What a moving show … striking and well-developed … Everything was seamless and everyone was so talented!” – Georgia, NZ Fringe, Lift-Off 2022

“Special, clever, charming and mesmeric. These are talented artists and I feel much better for seeing this work. This is what art can do in an uneasy world.” – Deidre Tarrant – Theatreview, Lift-Off 2021

“Exemplary … beautiful … enrapturing … Lift-Off is a highly engaging show presented by highly talented emerging artists” – Caitlin Halmarick, Theatreview, Lift-Off 2020

Te Auaha – Tapere Nui, Level 1, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro
Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 Feb 2023

Dance , Dance-theatre , Music , Physical ,

1 hr

Slick hour long show.

Review by Helen Balfour 22nd Feb 2023

Two half hour pieces, both crafted in simple, yet effective and appealing ways, featuring two talented young directors, writers and performers, Adriana Calabrese and Aria Leader-Fiamatai. 

Calabrese’s slickly directed work, The Conned begins the evening and is accompanied in the space by a tight and talented five piece band playing fluid, yet at times glossy jazz.  Set in 1940’s New York at the Central Art Gallery and inspired by Film Noir, a smoky, seedy feel is established. 

A tale of skulduggery and underhandedness weaves its way in and around the dishonest, deceitfulness of the New York art scene of this time as the young artist, Esme Williams (Calabrese) steals her own exhibited work to get her own back on the smooth talking, yet devious Madeline Belvedere (Leader-Fiamatai) her agent. Meanwhile, to keep things interesting, the ensemble are also suspects of the theft!

That’s Life, sung superbly as an opening duet by Calabrese and Leader-Fiamatai accompanied by the four capable chorus members, was a spine tingling toe-tapper, followed snugly by Framed, demonstrating simple, slick choreography and powerful harmonies. 

The cast are to be commended for their intense focus, contrast and range of singing skills, each performer displaying a plethora of vocal dynamics and control which is evident in another powerful ensemble piece, Damn your Eyes.

At times, the New York accents were a little hit and miss; consistency would be better here. 

The uncomplicated technical options and choices of black and white costuming, were effective and showed the simplicity of the era linking the underbelly themes well.

Congratulations to all on an engaging half hour of theatre. Fabulous talent coming through here. 

Sailor’s Lullaby written and directed by Aria Leader-Fiamatai

In Greek mythology a siren is represented by a creature that is half bird, half woman and one who lures sailors to their demise by the sweetness of her song.

Leader-Fiamatai’s loose rendition of this myth is an enduring piece that uses the power of song and movement as storytelling tools to capture the tale of three sailors who succumb to the ways of the sirens. 

Finned-folk is a delightful song with overlapping harmonies and lyrics that capture the essence of the creatures calling to the sailors from beneath their deck. 

As the sirens entered and exited the space, the fluid, recurring hand gesture sequence, is hypnotic, enhancing the mesmerizing qualities they used to attract their prey. The additional percussive rhythms and circular actions help to unify and connect each section together as the sirens return to lure the sailors time and time again. 

All six performers are talented vocalists, their looping and weaving harmonies fold and shape the work while humming and tonal variations link the narrative tale. 

The set is two simple sets of mobile stairs that cleverly represent the ship above and below. The sailors and sirens regularly appear staggered on them, using the levels to focus the audience’s attention. 

The cautionary, mythical tale is shaped by moody, watery lighting effects and simple hand-help lanterns that help to show the time of pirates, sailors and sirens alike. 

The lyrics of a song sung by the sirens as they coax the sailor to his doom, “ doubt comes in and my heart falters…. for the souls in the ocean forever will be”, leaves the audience knowing that the end has come and generous applause is needed. 

The evening was thoroughly enjoyable and I commend the performers and directors on the obvious rigour they have gone through to produce a slick hour long show.


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