The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

11/09/2015 - 12/09/2015

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

16/02/2017 - 19/02/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]


Production Details

Manawatu performer Ian Harman unleashes alter-ego Lola in THE LOLA SHOW, which he describes as “a little bit cabaret, a little bit burlesque and a lot about relationships, love, and laughter.”

Harman, who most recently appeared in the sell-out Hotel D’Amour at The Globe Theatre with The Boom Boom Room Burlesque, brings his background of magic, burlesque, costume design, and theatre into the performance.

“The show is about laughing about the ups and downs like you would sitting down with your best mates. A good night out of light entertainment where we can laugh at ourselves.” Harman created Lola in 2007 and has lived with the evolving character ever since. 

Produced by Nathan Mudge
SOLO 15 festival at The Dark Room. cnr Pitt & Church Streets
11-12 September, 8pm
$20 full / $15 concession


…” an hour of classily risque cabaret.” – theatreview

Bring your mother, invite your lover – heck – tell the vicar! It’s wicked, irreverent madness.  

BATS Theatre: The Heyday Dome
16 – 19 February 2017, at 7pm
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15
Fringe Addict Cardholder $12 
Book tickets

Theatre , Solo , Cabaret , Burlesque ,

1 hr

Light, clever entertainment

Review by John Smythe 17th Feb 2017

The BATS Theatre Heyday Dome space is adorned with polka dotted helium balloons and random right-angled light-arrows perched on beer crates. Little do we realise what is cleverly secreted behind and within this seemingly minimal design aesthetic – just one of the multi-talented Ian Harman’s accomplishments for The Lola Show.

In his performance persona, the heavily made-up and long-lashed eyes seem to enter ahead of Mr Lola Illusion himself (he’s very clear about his preferred pronoun). Festive top-knot, rouged cheeks and nose, bright lipstick and a neatly trimmed just-visible beard beam above a plain white, black-tied shirt which, in turn, is bound in a multi-coloured and fringed waistcoat. Below this: red-sequin-encrusted speedos, black fishnet stockings, gold-sequined stiletto shoes. Red satin gloves and feather bustle finish off the ‘boylesque’ costume with designer Harman’s customary flair.

Accurately billed as a “cabaret sideshow of music, magic and mirth filled with high camp, high glamour and low brow laughs” it delivers on all fronts. The songs, smoothly sung to recorded tracks, are mostly Caro Emerald standards – ‘A Night Like This’, ‘Dr Wanna Do’, ‘Completely’, ‘Stuck’, ‘The Lipstick on [Your] Collar’, ‘Liquid Lunch’, ‘Comin Back as a Man’ – judiciously punctuated with ‘Don’t Tell Momma’ (from Cabaret), ‘In These Shoes’ (a Bette Midler fave) and, as a finale, ‘I Am the Naughty Lola,’ sung by Marlene Dietrich in the von Sternberg film The Blue Angel (1930).

Little wonder, then, that there is a retro feel to the verbal and – wink-wink, nudge-nudge – visual gags. The magic tricks, too – involving scarves, balls and hoops – have all been seen before but they win us over because Lola’s dexterity confounds us all over again, not least because we are at close enough quarters to see how they work, if only we could. That’s what most of the buzz is about afterwards: how does he do it?

Unusually for a 2017 Fringe show touching on gay, boylesque, genderqueer themes – in Auckland’s Pride Festival especially – there is nothing polemical or political in The Lola Show. It’s light, clever entertainment that will tax neither your emotions or your brain unless you struggle with the gender mash-up Lola’s appearance, in which case do make sure you see it. 


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A Good Time

Review by Joy Green 13th Sep 2015

The Lola of this show’s title is Mr Lola Illusion, performer Ian Harman’s alter-ego – a character who is probably best known around Palmerston North as host and MC of the Boom-Boom Room’s Burlesque shows.

For this evening, however, Lola is going it alone. Impeccably dressed in a costume that transitions at the waist from evening jacket and dress–shirt enhanced by sparkly shirt-studs and cuff-links into a feathered tutu over a pair of fishnet tights and gloriously glittery heels that I’d have coveted for myself if it wasn’t for the fact that I know that unlike Lola, I’d break my neck in them. He sings, dances, prestidigitates and banters his way through an hour of classily risqué cabaret.

This kind of show relies on all the elements being done well – and, most importantly, the performer being someone we want to spend time with. To begin with the last, Lola is certainly that: the character’s lively humour connects with the audience from the get-go and keeps us all engaged throughout.

As far as singing goes, Harman has an impressive set of pipes and a great sense of phrasing, so that upbeat numbers like the wonderful ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ from Cabaret segues seamlessly into torch songs. The magic is kept simple but is accomplished up close and is thereby impressive, and the dancing is just what it should be to enhance the whole – there are a couple of real highlights when Lola dances in duet with a broomstick, hat, jacket and glove and in a little mimed playlet at the end of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘In These Shoes?’

It’s a slick and highly enjoyable show, and tonight’s audience clearly appreciates it. It might not be ‘great art’, but it’s certainly great entertainment and a perfect piece for lifting any lingering glooms at the end of the working week. Put simply, The Lola Show is a Good Time.


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