On the Corner

Bluenote Bar, Wellington

09/02/2007 - 12/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Premiering on the opening night of the 2007 Fringe Festival is a theatrical cabaret show with a difference featuring life in Wellington’s Red Light district.

With a programme billing of “Dragging Queens from Society’s fringe to perform in this camp Vivian Street scenario with tributes to characters who have given the street a colourful, vibrant and evergreen reputation” the show is colourful and full of surprises.

Director Anthony Johnston embarks on his first stage direction project after acting in many successful plays.  “The fun of this production is that it is staged in the heart of area in which the action portrayed took place” he says, “The building the Bluenote Bar is situated has a history of catering for “basic flesh instincts” and in the heart of Wellington’s red light district when it was in its hey day of the 60s through the 80s. Whilst today this is still the case the number of street workers has diminished as brothels and sex-on-site saunas have been licensed to cater for such tastes and prostitution itself legalised.”

Producer/Writer Phil Rogers has researched the era of the 60s 70s and 80s to produce a hilarious but chilled reality at times of the personalities that made the Vivian Street area the all night entertainment centre of the capital city.

“Looking back and remembering the area and the lifestyle some of us lead at the time then writing about it today has reminded me of the hard reality of life under a Tory Government, particularly the Muldoon era, which was very cruel to those outside the norm of society”, he says.  “With the time-frame of production and the funding we have to work with On the Corner really just skims the surface of those times but I hope it helps bring a reminder and understanding to the more liberated society of today, particularly younger people who sometimes don’t really appreciate the moral freedoms they have and the hard times those on the fringe of society experienced less than 20 years ago”. 

The show is suitable for adult audiences only and has an R18 restriction.

Theatre ,

2 hours

Mixed bag of drag

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th Feb 2007

Those that put the Fringe Festival brochure together probably didn’t envisage how literal some of their category descriptors that they have assigned to each show would be, On The Corner at the Bluenote Bar a case in point.  Described as a "’Mixed Bag", it is just that in every sense of the word.

Purporting to be a tribute to the Queens and Drags of yesteryear through the eyes of those on the streets today it ostensibly is nothing more than a drag show, albeit a reasonably good one, which has between each artiste doing a turn, a running commentary on the changing face of Wellington’s Red Light District. 

As a piece of social history on that colourful era of the 60’s and 70’s which had Carmen as it’s centre piece the first half is interesting and John Joliff as narrator fills in many points of note of how the mores of society with respect to homosexuality and prostitution have changed.  The girls also successfully lip sync to some approriate songs that express life on the streets of a working girl then and now. 

But the second half then degenerates into a series of drag acts that seem to bare no relation to the overall theme.  With a tighter structure, more rehearsal and a more professional presentation, this two hour show could be the slick one hour show it is advertised as. 


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