Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

27/09/2016 - 01/10/2016

Auckland Live International Cabaret Season 2016

Production Details

Songs, stories and too much red wine.

Enter a raw and riotous world where punk rock, 80’s glam and indie rock seamlessly co-exist.

Suits is alternative-cabaret at its finest featuring a stunning all-female ensemble led by Blackbird Ensemble’s Jessie Cassin.

These ladies have hilarious stories to tell plus they rock hits from Bowie, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and more like you’ve never seen them before. 

Basement Theatre
Tuesday 27 September – Saturday 1 October
$15.00 – $23.00
For all ticketing and timing information, visit

Theatre , Cabaret ,

A cathartic blast of punk rock fun

Review by Nik Smythe 29th Sep 2016

We enter the Basement Theatre Studio, find seats and survey the scene with anticipation fed by the familiar upbeat sound of the Buzzcocks blaring through the sound system.  The stage is set with classic equipment – Roland keyboard, Ludwig jazz drumkit, and Fender bass guitar – all on an old faded rug, like a casual living room practise setup.

Two band members enter: Harriet Ellis – tall, short black hair, in a bright red shirt and socks, and grey cuff trousers – takes the bass; Katie Evringham, in a simple black suit and grey shirt, takes her place at the drums. They strike up a raunchy rhythm bed for the opening number.

Keyboardist Claire Cowan, dressed in a more classical embroidered velvet jacket and yellow Western bowtie, wheels on vocalist frontwoman Jessie Cassin (scruffy bleach-blonde mop, fitted black suit jacket and pants, white shirt and bowtie) in a shopping trolley. She is belting out a solid rendition of Amanda Palmer’s ‘Do it With a Rockstar’. 

Suits is a vehicle for Jessie’s personal confession, being from a Catholic background yet evidently given to retooling the old ways to suit her own style.  Sharing her most personal experiences and pastimes – food, music, masturbation etc – it’s essentially a public confessional with punctuating rock, punk and soul tunes instead of Hail Marys. 

To begin with, we’re invited to join Jessie in celebrating one full year of being single, with which she is comfortable and confident having realised that she was her own ‘one’ all along.  Her twinkle-eyed, mischievous demeanour has the air of refreshing honesty, though admittedly given her amusingly hit-and-miss standup style of banter between songs there’s some uncertainty about how true her various outrageous anecdotes really are. 

Meanwhile her accomplished band supply a sturdy, chunky lo-fi musical bed for Jessie’s powerfully soulful vocal range, working through an eclectic set of songs which, for the most part, are surely older than they are, from the likes of TLC, Rufus Wainwright, more Buzzcocks, Foreigner, Cyndi Lauper et al. 

A cathartic blast of punk rock fun, it ultimately doesn’t matter that it doesn’t really have anything to do with suits as such.  The biggest problem is the theatrical setting. The intimacy is awkwardly charming but when the band rarks up, it feels constraining to just jiggle in our seats. If they had a mosh pit, I’d be right in there.  


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