BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

10/12/2013 - 14/12/2013

Production Details

It’s Christmas time and Celia is still the Mayor of Wellington! Huzzah!

Free range eggnog, mistletoe, Gloria Estefan and Winston Peters – now that’s a party.  Plus tinsel, a speech impediment, unexpected visitors and a bicycle, now that’s a Christmas show. 

Public Service Announcements (PSA) started in May 2011, with a mission to bring political satire back to Wellington and make it accessible to everyone from students to public servants to the politicians they are satirizing. This week they return with their 8th episode, a Christmas comedy special hosted by Kate McGill as Celia Wade-Brown. 

Written by comedian, political commentator, nominee of the Fred Dagg Award and winner of Best Male Comedian at the 2013 Comedy Guild Awards James Nokise

Directed by Anya Tate-Manning and with local stars Kate McGill as Celia Wade-Brown, and Allan Henry as Winston Peters, Paul Eagle and Fran Wilde

From previous shows –

“Well observed, intelligent, political commentary with priceless one liners” – Maraea Rakuraku, Theatreview

“ a laugh-a-minute show, a great piece of political satire and very entertaining…… “
“As David McPhail did Sir Robert Muldoon, so Henry does Peters……”
‘the star of the show must be Kate McGill’s brilliant and spot on impersonation of the Mayor’ – Ewan Coleman, The Dominion Post.

December 10-14th, 8pm 
BATS Theatre, Corner of Cuba and Dixon Street, Wellington
Tickets; or 04 802 4175

Theatre , Political satire ,

Clever contemporary humour

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 12th Dec 2013

Coming off the back of an incredibly busy year for James Nokise (he was recently named Most Improved Comedian and Best Male Comedian in the 2013 NZ Comedy Guild Awards) is Christmas with Celia, an homage/salute to Wellington’s lisping, greenie, cyclist mayor Celia Wade-Brown (Kate McGill).

The stage is pimped out with mandatory Christmas bling and (just quietly) I do like me some George Michael and Mariah Carey. My crew isn’t keen to sit in the front row, all crying “they’ll pick on us, it’ll be interactive” but we do and then, of course, it’s interactive and they pick on us. Aue.

Even if initially reluctant, that’s something I do like about PSA performances: how they include their audience through the good-natured prodding of the fourth wall. It gets us on side and that’s not just because we want them to do well. I mean, c’mon on it’s entry, even the bicycle gets applause.

I like that the humour isn’t mean. Wade-Brown’s characteristics are easy fodder for mean-spirited attacks and props that PSA doesn’t go there. It totally relies on audience intelligence and there could be criticism that this is targeted at a certain kind of Wellingtonian: educated, well-read and interested in politics. However, because of its political satirical nature, there is something generic in its content and delivery that we can all relate too. After all, an a-hole in a suit is still just an a-hole, right? 

I enjoy the madcap, manic, madness when the stage is bombarded by the whole PSA whānau (is that you, Paul Mclaughlan /David Cunliffe, rockin’ a lavalava and swag?).  Appearances by Aiden Weekes /Russell Norman, a red nose wearing Thom Adams /David Carter and the bounding David Lawrence /John Key add to the mayhem, meaning my attention does waver during some of the earlier Celia solo moments.

Even so Kate McGill /Celia Wade-Brown can definitely hold her own. Her confidence and natural ability means she just “wolls wiv it.” Some of the script does get swallowed in its delivery because, well, it’s detailed and specific and you really have to listen, but that’s nothing a few more performances and careful editing won’t clear up. Even if you are like me and find your interest wavering in parts, don’t worry: the caricature is completely riveting and there is definitely something about McGill.

Allan Henry’s version of Wellington City Councillor Paul Eagle is enough for me to use the Google machine (Faafetai tele lava, Rosanna Raymond via Fatu Feu’u) when I get home to find out more. Even former Wellington Mayor Fran Wilde gets the Henry treatment and has me reaching into the dark recesses of my memory. However, because I am completely biased and have experienced the Winston Peters incarnation, I find myself waiting and waiting, so when he eventually saunters onto the stage, whisky bottle in hand – woop woop.

Of course Henry totally owns it, as Peters does in real life.  I could quote forever some of those one-liners.  In fact, I intend too. The scenes between him and McGill are some of the raunchiest funniest. 

The humour is clever and contemporary – WARNING: avert eyes during Kanye West, Kim Kardashian moment and as for the Breaking Bad reference, that’s perfection right there.   

Nokise has a real handle on political satire, and the PSA whānau on their respective characters and caricature. What a gift it must be for actors to develop and develop characters over a period of time which is why I reiterate: why are Nokise and the PSA crew not doing this for television?

The performance I saw was a bit flat, missing the buzz that usually accompanies opening night. That could be nerves and the work could do with some tweaking but for some light-hearted fun, get along to it and enjoy. I bet you find yourself swaying along to their version of Fairytale of New York and like me, looking forward to 2014 when they take on John Banks.


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No shortage of targets at this festive party

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th Dec 2013

It’s Christmas and Celia is having a party and her only guests, apart from the audience, are all politicians. The only drink on offer is organic eggnog, which isn’t quite strong enough for Winston. 

The entertainment she offers is simple. There’s a very brief reading from ‘A Christmas Cawol’, some presents under the tree for two lucky audience members, a couple of songs (one by Winston), and a visit from three unwise men.

But she seems to be uncertain of her role as mayor, continually looking for support and advice from unlikely politicians. Like Martin Luther King she has a dream which includes a monorail from the Beehive to the hospital so MPs won’t have to deal with taxi drivers spilling the dirt about their drunken behaviour.

There are jokes about all the usual topics – Green issues, Transmission Gully, the Basin Reserve flyover, the possibility of a Super City, cycle lanes – and many which sent the audience into great roars of laughter as Kate McGill, sporting a shiny red wig and riding a bike, ran the gamut of outrageous comic exaggerations and sending up the Mayor’s Maori and Pasifica would-be connections to perfection.

Three of the MPs are all played by Allan Henry who appears as a severe Fran Wilde as well as Paul Eagle and Winston (in silhouette he looks exactly like him). He is joined in the final sections of this short revue by the Prime Minister, David Cunliffe, David Shearer and one I didn’t catch because of too much laughter.

The finale is a bit shambolic and under rehearsed but it’s the sort of show where it doesn’t matter and in fact enhances the silliness and the fun and doesn’t get in the way of the occasional satirical dart.


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