Wellington Circus Hub, 11 Hutchinson Rd, Newtown, Wellington

27/09/2015 - 27/09/2015

The Open Stage, Hagley Community College, Christchurch

08/10/2015 - 09/10/2015

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

30/03/2016 - 02/04/2016

The Body Festival 2015

Production Details

Created and performed by Pipi-Ayesha Evans

The Blue-Bearded Lady is a one-woman show by Pipi-Ayesha Evans that includes circus theatre, aerial dance, stilts, partial nudity and a teddy-bear puppet telling stories about a strip-club.

This is a modern adult fairy-tale, inspired by the story of the wife-murdering Bluebeard, told by one of his wives (‘Lady Bluebeard’). She has entered the forbiddenroom,and is contemplating what her fate is to be. Perhaps the secrets of her childhood can empower her to save herself. He is a beast, but she may be the stronger wolf.

Pipi-Ayesha aims to create work that is provocative, beautiful, and entertaining. The Blue-Bearded Lady combines high physicality with innovative storytelling to create compelling theatre that pushes both physical and creative boundaries.

Wellington show:
27 September at The Circus Hub, Newtown
Door Sales Only
More information: … 302528349/

The Body festival, Christchurch

Company Overhead Risk Circus Theatre/ Pipi-Ayesha Evans
Venue The Open Stage at Hagley College, 510 Hagley Ave.
Date/Time Thurs 8th & Fri 9th October at 7.30pm
Duration 50 mins
Tickets $18, $15 concession from Dash Tickets or ph 0800 327 484, booking fees apply


Pipi-Ayesha Evans

Physical , Dance-theatre , Cirque-aerial-theatre , Theatre , Puppetry , Solo ,

50 mins

Utterly charming in a ghoulish kind of way.

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 31st Mar 2016

A life-long fascination with fairy stories and nursery rhymes is the inspiration for and lies at the heart of this gem.  Written and performed by Pipi-Ayesha Evans with direction by Deborah Pope, lighting by Sefton Bates and a number of supporters who are thanked in the programme, this mix of aerial hoop, tissue, soft toy manipulation and theatre is utterly charming in a ghoulish kind of way.

The story of Bluebeard and his wives is the hinge for the narrative but Evans cleverly uses a variety of storytelling genres and digs deeper into her personal responses and compulsions to generate her own script.  Providing the foil to this picture- book damsel who is the latest ‘desired’  wife of Bluebeard is an adorable and very expressive teddy bear who is clearly much loved (we all have one of these Teddy’s in the background) and he is forced to hide his eyes when things turn nasty.  

We enter the space to a beautiful crinoline -clad lady suspended above the stage and as she finds her way down to the floor and sheds stilts and petticoats we follow the dishevelled downward spiral of her story. BUT, she is entranced and mesmerised by the risks and the dangers that arise and is looking for excitement. 

Evans’ own life is cleverly brought into the mix and we are immediately engaged in the reality versus fantasy question that is at the core of fairy tales. “What’s the time Mr Wolf?”  is seriously scary while played out in the guise of family fun. There is truth for her and for us – not always nice but tantalising and a little bit blue…. Well maybe a whole lot blue ….             

The simple staging works very well.  Giant, grandiose, red curtains are used to provide both temptation as a doorway to danger and resolution as possible escape. Effective use of projection and shadow play adds to the menace never far from the surface. Clever and immediate, Pipi-Ayesha Evans uses her considerable skills to tell her story and to share the experience – she has a lovely sense of the stage and confident and purposeful movement skills that make this an excellent hour in the theatre. Highly recommended if a trifle unsettling!


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A fierce re-gendering of a classic tale

Review by Erin Harrington 09th Oct 2015

The story of Bluebeard and his macabre hidden room is rich material that has been reworked numerous times in a variety of ways, from films and poetry through to performance art and revisionist feminist fiction. Its themes of desire, gender and transgression are explored in writer-performer Pipi-Ayesha Evans’ solo performance The Blue-Bearded Lady, which posits that the monster’s latest wife is far more than she seems.

The narrative appears to centre on a stripper who marries her John, only to find that the darkness she senses in him manifests in ways far worse than she imagines. As we learn about the transgressions of husband Blue, our narrator’s background is fleshed out, and we come to realise that perhaps it is she who has the string of dead lovers behind her after all. This dramatic action is woven around four acrobatic set pieces that express key moments in the story, such as the wedding and the opening of the forbidden room.

To draw from a particularly trite rugby cliché, this is a show of two halves. Evans is an impressive aerial performer, and her work with silks, hoop and rope is graceful and compelling. These portions use balletic and powerfully muscular movement in a manner that expresses and enriches the story; these portions alone, with minimal connecting material, could have made for an outstanding show.

The narrative and dramatic portions are less successful. It is such a peculiar thing to watch: Evans’s aerial performance is full of conviction, and she tells stories with her physicality and choreography in a beautiful manner, but the moment she hits the floor her presence as an actor, both physically and vocally, lacks authority. I am never sure if Evans is playing one or multiple characters, and the identities and histories of those characters is often uncertain. Her acrobatic performance is fierce, but her transition to a predatory animal as a character is not.

I can see that the intention is to create the sort of story that draws from Carol Ann Duffy and Angela Carter’s own dark, erotic reinterpretations of fairy tales, one that challenges male monstrosity with the threat of a particularly female type of raw power. There is also material here that, if reworked with a firmer hand and a more specific idea of theatrical mission, could be incredibly effective. After stripping away her long, white wedding outfit, Evans spend most of the performance wearing only a pair of small white shorts, and there is something really powerful in watching a piece about sex, desire, curiosity and power being performed by a near-naked woman who gazes back fiercely at the audience, reworking her body as something active, productive and muscular. “My body is mine, and see what I can do with it”, this says, “and what about you?”

 As it stands, though, this piece feels very erratic and underdeveloped. I note that there are four people credited as offering directorial or dramaturgical input, yet the story, script, character development, lighting and AV design, and overall sense of purpose are muddled. The incorporation of a stagehand hasn’t been thought about clearly, and his presence is a distraction and needs to be incorporated more deliberately into the action. The core of the story relies on a series of clichéd storylines and characterisations, especially those involving sex work, without ever critiquing or transcending them, and the re-gendering of the Bluebeard story doesn’t quite hit the mark. A little vocal coaching would make a world of difference.

It is telling that the feedback form we are offered opens with “Did you understand the story?” The answer: not really. Bluebeard kills his wives, but this piece needs to kill its darlings.


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Brave genre-bending proves captivating

Review by Jillian Davey 30th Sep 2015

The Blue-Bearded Lady is a risky show… solo, bare-bones budget; yet show writer and performer, Pipi-Ayesha Evans has taken it offshore before Kiwi audiences even got a glimpse.  She now has two seasons at the Anywhere Festival (in Mackay and Brisbane) and a Wellington preview under her belt before taking it to The Body Festival in Christchurch next month.  A full Wellington season is in the works too.

It’s not just the show itself that’s a risk.  It’s the content (may contain traces of nudity), subject matter (adult in theme), and delivery (unapologetic) that gives The Blue-Bearded Lady its edge and vulnerability; its crackle.

This one-woman show combines storytelling, rock, metal, dance, a hint of Butoh, circus apparatus, and stripping into a folktale like no other.  Drawing on the story of Bluebeard, Evans takes on the role and point of view of Lady Bluebeard, the new wife.  She’s girlish in her wedding day excitement, wistful in her new-given freedom, animalistic during her nights alone, and terrified by what’s behind her husband’s locked door. 

Intermingled in this modern re-telling of Bluebeard are snippets of childhood memories and family recollections.  What unfolds is a story you’re never quite sure is real or fantasy.  The intermingling jumps around a little and the transitions could be ironed, but it’s captivating and as an audience member, I’m kept wide awake.

In Newtown’s cavernous Circus Hub, it’s clear this work was meant to be experienced in a more intimate setting:  somewhere dark and quiet where the spoken narrative can be lowered and made more subtle, where the audience is free to feel as uncomfortable, as turned on, turned off, repelled, or seduced as needed. 

 The beauty of this show is its unabashed genre-bending and blending.  It makes no apologies, no concessions, and is a brave piece of work.


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