Memoirs of Pinafores and Pantyhose

The Garden Club, 13b Dixon Street, Wellington

25/02/2010 - 26/02/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

Memoirs of Pinafores and Pantyhose blossoms from the untamed curiosities and embellishments of old age; spinning cabaret and dubious stories in an outrageous fashion.

The show was originally inspired by an obituary news article of Mrs. Doreen Newberry, a feisty old cleaning lady of the Lower Hutt Valley. ‘Memoirs’ Director and Writer, Talin Prowse, says of Newberry, “We were drawn to her sassy lease on life. She was an infectious character that instantly inspired this show.”

The storyline plays on themes of dementia, taking place in an old folks home where we meet Ginger, Sherry and Bebe; elderly ex cleaning ladies who haven’t ceased to lose their feisty nature. Through stories of the roaring twenties, told to their nursing staff, these nanas suddenly find themselves as show girls on stage of the Hotel Chelsea: a world of burlesque, jazz and scandal.

Infused with the antics and entertainment of Burlesque Star Courtney L’Amour, and Wellington dancers, Ingrid Berry and Amy Ireland, ‘Memoirs’ serves a cocktail of pastiche, parody and wit that is sure to leave its audience teeming with glitter under their fingernails and confetti in their bed.

at The Garden Club on Dixon Street
Feb.25th and 26th
8:30pm start
Tickets $15 at the door.

Jayne Gell
Ingrid Berry
Amy Ireland
Kara Sage Knight
Carlos Navae
Patrick Mctague
Jacinta Roe
Raquel Sims

Sound: Chris Keogh
Lighting: Rory Burson

Dancing works amid clumsy production

Review by Michael Wray 26th Feb 2010

Memoirs of Pinafores and Pantyhose is about three retired ladies living in a rest home reminiscing about their past as show-girls, presented as a series of extended flashbacks of theatre and dance routines.  

It would probably work well if the show’s format was changed to themed cabaret i.e. if the acting was reduced to elements of segue between dance numbers. As a piece of theatre, trying to tell a story, it has problems.

The main performers are the three ladies and it is soon clear they have been cast for their ability to dance rather than act. When they are presenting their young selves, dancing to songs such as All That Jazz, they appear confident and skilled. When acting, they are clearly less comfortable, American accents stray unevenly and there are awkward silences as if trying to remember whose lines are next.

Most of the performers are wearing microphone headsets, but not all microphones work. This means dialogue is often very loud for one side of a conversation and a strain to hear for the other.

Those performers whose microphones are working need to know that we in the audience can hear their backstage whispering – somewhat amusing between scenes, but very distracting when a scene is taking place on stage at the same time.

Scenes end very abruptly, particularly with the recorded music. It would be softer on the ear for songs to fade out as the stage lighting dims. Some of the scene changes are inexplicably long for a show with minimal stage furniture. While I understand there are some necessary wardrobe changes, it is frustrating when several scenes are significantly shorter than the delays that precede and follow them.

In essence Memoirs of Pinafores and Pantyhose is an excuse for the three central women to cast off their cleaning overalls, strip down to show-girl lingerie and dance for the audience. In this regard, at least, it succeeds, but in this current format I’m not sure it’s worth it.
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