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Saturday, February 10, 2024

Review: 'No Hetero' and 'Exes and Nos' - Circus Bar (Preview 9 February 2024)

Tonight, I got to see the preview of two upcoming shows at this year’s Fringe Festival 

'No Hetero' - Hadley Wilson (Crooked Love Productions) 
Circus Bar - 7PM 16/17 Feb 2024 

They don’t mind being a stereotype as long as she's a gay one. She looks gay right? 

Comedian Hadley Wilson has been a staple at Queer Comedy Nights at the Fringe Bar, in Allen St. She also run’s various other Queer activities like Rock Climbing nights. 

Billed as a ‘stand-up comedy campfire story experience’ and the ‘gayest comedy Ted Talk you always wanted’, ‘No Hetero’ is loosely frames around Wilson’s life and adventures growing up in a profoundly and deeply Christian family and breaking out and coming out over her 30 odd years, looking for her own validation of her queerness and trying to shake off her imposter syndrome. 
Divided into ‘eras’ – and no there was no reference to Tay Tay (well, nearly none) – thier ‘slide show’ navigates early life being the ‘best at being good’, attending Bible Camps, girls-only sleepovers, going through her ‘Autumn’ years, making teen heartthrob photo boards of hunky actors with sweeping haircuts, her sorority girl-crush years, puppy love Pinterest boards, a botched engagement and finally realising it was actually women, not men, that they craved all along. 

Their approach is endearing, homely and just a little bit twee as she connects all the dots on this journey, growing up in British Columbia, traveling the world and eventually settling down here in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

I love the friendship bracelets, handed out, that represent ‘every version of Queerness’ and her various samples of poor fashion sense through the eras. At Times the information shared was very personal and I take my hat off to Wilson for opening up like this.  

It's difficut and confronting to make fun of yourself and your own beliefs in the way she did, and that should be acknowledged. ‘No Hetero’ hilariously confronts a unique experience of growing up in an uber-conservative world of a evangelical Christianity community. 

This is, at least for Wilson, a world that maintains a straight whitewashed opinion of sexual identity - . What Wilson calls ‘compulsory heterosexuality’. 

It’s a homespun, a bit dinky and often very funny, slightly anxious and always an adventurous identity search to prove how Queer Hadley Wilson really is. 

‘Exes and Nos’ - Rachel Mercer 
Circus Bar - 8PM 16/17 Feb 2024 & Vogelmorn Bowling Club 7PM 24 Feb 2024 

Since her first hilariously chaperoned date in 2003 Rachel Mercer has been drawing inspiration from her lacklustre lovelife, cringeworthy encounters, and personal anxieties. 

With the help of a few wigs and a boxer's punch dummy called ‘Lori’ turns her love failures into clever, sad, sometimes cutting and witty songs about her darkest moments.  With her trusty ukulele in hand, they announce that this show is really a big opportunity to elicit a date, with anyone, literally.  Because every other attempt to do so has fallen completely flat.  

Its a series of vulnerable confessions, cringing moments, even a spot of intentional politicised protest nudity (#freethenipplemovement, yeah!).  

I love her brash, confronting presence and also candidness - the way she wears her heart on her sleeve about many sensitive issues, such as their Trichotillomania (also called hair-pulling disorder), escape from certain marriage to a man and vices like oversleeping.  

The first half of the show is punchy, Mercer is on point and sharp as a tack.  The second half is a little bit less polished, perhaps a bit under rehearsed.  But as the season comes on that should change.    

I'd recommend seeing both these together, as a complete and varied package about Queer identity.  All in all, expect some two out-of-the-box gigs that come from completely different ends of the rainbow.  

You’ll leave knowing way more than you should about Christian Summer camps, lesbian imposter syndrome, OCD, and Mercer’s nipples. Review - CoffeeBar Kid