Volcanoes Are Awesome

Southern Cross Restaurant & Bar, Wellington

19/02/2007 - 22/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Created with Heleyni Pratley

-What pisses off the Cat God (Sugarpaws) so much that it causes an eruption?
-Why the hell is putting your legs over your head the safest form of protection from an eruption?
-What attributes make the best sacrifice victim?
-Could you be next?

Come along and learn about the majestic yet frightening volcano! Volcanoes are Awesome! will look at how they really work and the likelihood of a New Zealand volcano blowing it’s top i.e. the likelihood of impending doom.

The show looks to explain how to survive a volcano as well as investigate the racist and controversial volcanic history of NZ. Sit back and take part in an aural/visual volcano inspired New Zealand journey, with music and dancing from local Wellington acts Disasteradio and Cortina as well as educational AV displays including flash animations from local artists.

Researched and written in leaps and bounds since midway through last year, Volcanoes are Awesome! is the work of a number of young, talented writers centred around artist Heleyni Pratley. The cast has a strong connection with local improv groups, allowing a level of spontaneity and excitement guaranteed to educate as well as entertain.

Heleyni describes one of the reasons for putting on Volcanoes are Awesome! as a very personal one. “I’ve always been fascinated by volcanoes. At first I was afraid, but then I realised that I had to confront that fear through contemporary dance and theatre!”

Having faced her own fears surrounding volcanoes Heleyni feels that others can find strength by coming along to the show.  “There’s no reason to be afraid anymore, we’re here to help.”

Theatre ,

40 mins

Premature eruption

Review by John Smythe 20th Feb 2007

Another group of creative young people has put together a Fringe show which will doubtless take them on a step learning curve, as the unforgiving realities of live performance test the validity of what probably looked promising in the devising / workshopping / rehearsal process.

In some ways, and at best, Volcanoes Are Awesome is a latter day Goon Show, a hark back to the likes of Spike Milligan and John Antrobus with its wacky characters embroiled in an absurdist plot punctuated with bursts of craziness off to the sides. At worst it is an under-rehearsed and often incoherent jumble of yet to mature ideas. On balance, I imagine it will improve as the season progresses.

Opening the show with a chanting processional entrance then huddling into a warm-up exercise while the expectant audience waits, realising it hasn’t actually started, is not a good way to begin. And dancing to a long and incomprehensible song, where what look like somewhat choreographed moves degenerate into formless dancing that resembles a party to which the audience has not been invited, is not a good way to end.

Betwixt and between, some bits have their moments: the arrogant expert lecturer; the emotionally disturbed young man from the audience; the strange people who live inside the volcano and worship the cat god, Sugarpaws, who was the only survivor of the Mount Tarawera eruption; the survival expert whose party trick is to cross his feet behind his head (a shame that only a few get a good view of that) … Some of the PowerPoint video work is good too.

There are hints of clever minds forming researched material into impressive slabs of text. A sense of structure, building to some kind of climax, lurks within the chaos. There’s even a sense of moral purpose, or a satiric swipe at one … Even so, this particular volcano has blown its top prematurely. The phrase “sound and fury signifying nothing” springs to mind too often.

And speaking of sound, the back room at the Southern Cross is not well insulated from the main bar and with a one day cricket match in full swing on opening night, the conversational tone the actors preferred for some parts meant quite a bit was lost (until a frustrated audience member asked then to speak up). The end-on acting space, on a flat floor, makes for poor sightlines too. A thrust or traverse space might work better.

Volcanoes Are Awesome is a classic case of fresh young talent grabbing the Fringe opportunity and going for it, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of some of those involved.


neil furby February 25th, 2007

Yes volcanoes are awesome. From the beginning I knew something special was going to happen when I suggested to the person next to me to go take his medication at once. OK he was part of the show acting like he had sniffed some good white and dropped some wow party poppers. Then a side door opened and in came a line of people chanting the old warm up standard and making a better use of the Dom Post than reading it, covering their bodies with the paper So off we all went on this madcap journey learning about volcanoes. the people in volcanoes, and the strange other life of cats. This was an Alice in Wonderland character fest in some other dimension. The lighting blared and the sound disjointed our senses. All performers shone, the band rocked and the audience were gripped I wait for the sequel “Mud pools are magnificent” with impatience

Kip Chapman February 22nd, 2007

From the publicity material to the live show "A Volcanoes are Awesome" must be the standout show of the fringe. The performances were pretty damn good. The choral anthem towards the end was superb - especially the descant attempted by a very hoarse "Jasper". I loved the setting in the Southern Cross. You were able to hear the outside world - kind of like a cheaper version of Downstage. My only complaint were that some of the scenes were a touch over rehearsed - but as John commented you are "fresh young talent" and these niggles can be ironed out. It was a sell out last night and deservedly so.

Volcanoes Are Awesome February 21st, 2007

Sorry. That was a joke. We are stoked. We were really excited to have John at our show.

Super Dooper February 21st, 2007

You know, it'd probably be better form form to say, 'Thanks for your encouraging review, we really hope you come to our next show' or something. No point complaining that a seasoned reviewer didn't get it. Take it on the chin and don't give up. I'd be stoked with this review.

Volcanoes Are Awesome February 21st, 2007

The warm-ups were part of the show. Why didn't you say anything about the diarrhea and newspaper costumes? P.S. It was meant to amateur, like amateur porn.

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