Stories Told to Me by Girls

BATS Theatre, Wellington

10/01/2006 - 21/01/2006

Production Details

Written by Julie Hill
Music by Peter Daubé
Directed and designed by Stephen Bain

In Stories Told to Me by Girls, Jo Smith (formerly of legendary Wellington theatre company Trouble) shines a ginormous blowtorch on everything you didn’t realise you didn’t need to know about the art of female storytelling.


Humiliating stories told in confidence to our writer are embellished, mangled (serves them right for trusting a dirty hack) and accompanied by a sexy soundtrack by Peter Daubé, live video by Stephen Bain and clothes by Misery.

Performed by Jo Smith

Theatre , Solo ,

Delight without depth

Review by John Smythe 22nd Jan 2006

Bats Theatre kicks off the year with an hour of insights into the lives of selected women as reported to, and distorted by, Julie Hill. Stories Told To Me By Girls is powerfully performed by Jo Smith under the inventive direction of Stephen Bain with a splendid original soundtrack by Peter Daubé. 

Smith’s po-faced cracking of crackers and the weak jokes inside them encourages the audience to return from the silly season to a real world that becomes surreal.  

Katherine is a would-be actress who falls for the "you look like Liv Tyler" line in a pub from a guy who proves incapable of listening to her. She also undergoes humiliating screen-tests, projected live on a large screen, and a casting couch interview evoked in shadow play. 

A paranoid woman believes local musicians have stolen her lyrics and her news reporter friend has stolen her story ideas instead of finding her own. A one-sided conversation finds someone called Debs railing at Malcolm for his treatment of Molly. Later Smith plays out Malcolm’s side of the same conversation. 

Jobless Bex checks out b&d to discover her old maths teacher on the rack. A check out operator alleviates the tedium of her routine by fantasising it as a Busby Berkeley spectacular (impressive video styling by Diana Bain). Video augments a child’s sand city story, also involving a pile of real sand, and chalk boards illustrate the sad tale of Dougal McDougal.  

In the hands of Stephen Bain, who delivers theatre as objectified art, the medium is the massage. While Katherine’s story offers a narrative spine, climaxing with a spectacular saw-horse riding sequence, her journey is not cathartic. The random mix of theatrical devices is doubtless rationalised as a comment on life itself.  

As a theatrical presentation and performance Stories Told To Me By Girls is delightful but I crave some greater end beyond the means.


Make a comment

Fairly sizzles

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th Jan 2006

Jo Smith makes a triumphant return to Bats Theatre after a long absence with an entertaining and kaleidoscopically told group of stories and portraits of mainly women in a production by Stephen Bain that fairly sizzles with invention and wit. 

A pile of sand, a saw horse, a music stand, a video camera, a chair, and two blackboard walls make up the set, while the backdrop is a white screen on which appear from time to time some of the characters in either live video sequences or recorded scenes of sandcastles in a car park or dance sequences that include not only Jo Smith but also chorus lines tapping their way through a Busby Berkeley routine and Esther Williams under water. 

It’s like Performance Art, but without any of the pretentiousness that often seems to attach itself to this art form, mixed up with revue sketches, stand-up comedy and capped off with Julie Hill’s knack of combining believable people, lively offbeat stories and a dry sense of humour.  

We meet along the way a would-be actress and her agent (told with huge silhouettes on the screen), a 4-year old red Riding Hood, Rebecca in an S/M dungeon getting revenge on her old maths teacher, the unhappy life of Dougal (told with chalk drawings), young Dusty’s sandcastles, and Kathryn’s horse-riding audition with the countryside whizzing past in the background. 

Jo Smith is in absolute comedic control throughout whether as the actress being told she looks like Liv Tyler and not believing it but at the same time believing it or portraying the young Dusty and Dougal without a trace of cuteness or sentimentality. Add Peter Daube’s music and Megan Adam’s video choreography to the mix and you have a sparkling beginning to the theatrical year.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council