Hilltop Heights, 17 Upland Road, Kelburn, Wellington

20/08/2022 - 20/08/2022

Production Details

Written and performed by Margaret Austin
Director/Dramaturg Ralph McAllister

Please Adjust your G-string is a hilarious romp through an OE with a difference.

Margaret Austin left New Zealand in 1975 with no idea what lay ahead on the other side of the world. Blessed – or cursed – with a sense of adventure, she turned up her nose at London and went for Amsterdam, Athens and Paris, diving into experiences and situations not for the faint hearted.

Some of them involved G-strings, one or two were downright dangerous and all of them added up to a life of unique discovery. 

Hilltop Heights, 17 Upland Road, Kelburn, Wellington
Saturday 20 August 2022
3.00pm* and 7.00pm (evening booked out)
Minimum donation $20pp

Solo , Theatre ,

An intriguing, amusing and heartfelt memoir

Review by John Smythe 21st Aug 2022

Everyone has life stories to tell and they can be told in many ways.

In 1990 an autobiographical ‘novella’ called Amsterdam Affair by Margaret Austin was published by Sceptre Books, Hodder and Stoughton’s paperback fiction imprint. Those who have known Margaret (or Austin, as she is to many) since her return to New Zealand in 1988 may assume her story is fiction, given the name she gives to her first-person narrator. But those of us who knew her before she left for her OE recognise that name as the one she had then, and may therefore read it as more autobiographical than fictional.

Full disclosure: We were both in the Victoria University Drama Club production of Ann Jellicoe’s The Sport of My Mad Mother in 1966. Fifty years later, Margaret Austin became one of Theatreview’s Wellington theatre reviewers and to date has contributed 159 reviews. I was invited to Please Adjust Your G-String as a guest with no request to review until her director and dramaturge, Ralph McAllister, insisted on it. So here we are.

Originally scheduled a year ago, as a means of celebrating Margaret’s 75th birthday, Covid saw it delayed a year. Hilltop Heights, a private home in Kelburn, offers an ideal intimate venue for what may be described as a chamber piece. Indeed it could be described as a ‘guest speaker’ spot, were it not for the subtle yet powerful elements that transcend the fascinating anecdotes.

Resplendent in an exquisitely tailored red silk jacket, black slimline trousers and gold high heels, Margaret sashays into the drawing room adorned in a red feather boa to the strains of ‘Le Temps Des Fleurs’ (Those Were The Days) and promises a 5 Act epic, referencing Shakespeare titles as possible parallels. In fact it’s condensed into 50 minutes.

Simple ‘travelling on’ dance steps to music take us into each new ‘act’, with sound operator Joshua McCorkindale ensuring the transitions run smoothly.

From formative years in Palmerston North, where she taught Sunday School, Margaret finds very different life forms at University and Teacher’s College, and even gets married, before joining friends on a trip to Italy. Her return home is brief.  Bitten with the travel bug she moves on, solo, to Greece, Paris and Cannes … A segment focusing on her personal relationships involves another marriage and segues back to life in Wellington.

Two traumatic encounters with strangers bring the lot of lone women in supposedly liberated times into perspective. It is here that the power of silence, of being present to the remembered experience, proves even more riveting than the well-crafted tales of her unusual adventures.

I’m not sure why the barman in Paris has a strong Kiwi accent, but it is he who steers job-seeking Margaret to Les Folies Bergère. Her subjective experiences as a ‘naked mannequin’ are vividly recalled.

The command to smile leads to the song ‘When You’re Smiling’ being played. More could perhaps be made of the range of responses Margaret feels as she – and we – listen to that determinedly upbeat exhortation.

Some impressive name-dropping peppers the account of Cannes as Margaret offers her self-effacing recollection of attempting a career-change as a reporter for Play Girl. The heartfelt poems that she includes in the show attests, however, to her skills as a scribe.

Back in NZ, Margaret’s sojourn as Duchess of Wellington is traversed before she shares her experience of being hired as a body double for a 21 year old screen actress. Despite being anticlimactic at the time, it offers a splendid climax to the show.

In all, Please Adjust Your G-String is an intriguing, amusing and heartfelt memoir.

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