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Fringe Review: Crimson Club

Fringe Review: Crimson Club

Reviewed by Anna Sutherland

Image from

Crimson Club’s Whirlwind Worldwide Wellington Tour
Sat 13 Feb: Khandallah Town Hall;
Sat 20 Feb: Breaker Bay Hall; Sat 27 Feb: Muritai School Hall;
Thu 4 Mar, Fri 5 Mar, Sat 6 Mar: BATS

“Take me down to Paekakariki, where the grass is green and the boys are pretty!”

Three women in red velvet dresses, playing an accordion, a violin, and a cello, and rocking out to Guns 'n' Roses – that was the encore number of Crimson Club’s Muritai School performance. This show is a spirit-lifting, belly-laughing, sublimely silly tribute to Paekakariki, and the eclectic characters and musical excellence the village attracts.

I saw the performance at Muritai School in Eastbourne, the third stop on their ‘Whirlwind Worldwide Wellington Tour’. With ingenious use of lamps, large curtains, and other retro stylings, they transformed the usually large and uninviting school hall into a welcoming cabaret venue.

The small but appreciative crowd drank complimentary punch at cloth-covered tables, and were treated to an exuberant and quite batty variety of musical numbers, interspersed with sometimes hilarious, and sometimes groan-worthy, comedy.

The premise of the evening is that the women are bringing a Paekakariki-style experience to the rest of Wellington.

The Edith Piaf-esque opening numbers allowed the musicians – Shona Holborow on the violin and vocals, Janet Holborow on the cello and backing vocals, and Melissa Garber on the accordion, theremin, ukulele and backing vocals – to show their musical skill and flair.

They are clearly experienced musicians, but entertainment is their first priority.

Shona Holborow is the comedic heart of the show. They did a ‘show within a show’ of a typical Fringe Festival act. Shona donned a welding helmet and large red gloves to sing ‘Excuses’, a very catchy and nonsensical original song.

At one point the lights suddenly went out – the lighting technician and director Lisa Maule was called on to fix the blown fuse. In the meantime, the performers lit candles and sang sea shanties, confirming our suspicions it was all a ruse.

The performance includes various elements of pantomime, and although audience participation can be intimidating, they had us all standing and singing along to ‘Smile’ with grins all around.

When you go to BATS to see the show, dress up. There is a prize for best-dressed audience member.


Press Release: The Crimson Club’s Whirlwind Worldwide Wellington Tour
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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