Me and my weird friends’ Fringe Festival favourites

Callum Turnbull can't see everything in the Fringe Festival, so he's used his friendships to help narrow down his list. We'll let him explain...

Since lockdown, I’ve made it my mission to stop taking our city’s live performances for granted. I’ve seen theatre in the streets, up-and-comers at Eyegum, entrancing synthonies, and more sweaty moshpits than I’m comfortable with. It’s been a wild ride.

And now the Fringe Festival is upon us!

In Wellington, fringe is a term we actively embrace. It’s the outer-edge, the new perspective, a space for communities historically marginalised. An adaption of the Edinburgh original, the New Zealand Fringe Festival has been a launching pad to creatives of all backgrounds since its inception in 1990.

This year’s festival will squeeze over 150 performances into any available crevice with a spotlight.

With such a vast selection to choose from, I’ve assembled a small assortment of my most anticipated shows. I’ve curated them by finding the perfect friend I’ll be taking along for each one.

Love and Plastic Roses

Te Auaha, 9–13 March

I’ll be taking: My single friend who gets their music recommendations from Bumble profiles

Love and Plastic Roses follows one character’s increasingly desperate attempts to find love.

As the victim, and at times partial blame holder, of some awful dates in my life, the idea of watching someone else ride that roller coaster sounds oddly cathartic. Watching it with someone else sounds almost as satisfying as eavesdropping the first date on the table next to you.

Celestial Nobodies

BATS, 14–18 March

I’ll be taking: My friend who won’t stop asking for my exact time of birth

An “educational fusion of theatre and science”, Celestial Nobodies puts the telescope over a polylogue of universal experiences. If you’ve never seen the word polylogue before, imagine a zoom call where people actually talk after one another. What a concept.

I’ll be taking a Pattern-obsessed Pisces along to get them off my back (oh my god okay I’ll text my mum and see if she knows what the exact time was).

The Balancing Act

Te Auaha, 18–20 March

I’ll be taking: My theatre friend whose Spotify Wrapped just said “the Wolverine in a circus tent album”

I used to hate the circus. It seemed loud, claustrophobic, and terrifying. However, Shortland Street used to give me nightmares, so my bar for terror was admittedly low. I’ll be returning to the circus world with The Balancing Act, reassured by my theatre friend that circuses are magical and do not feature any Chris Warners.

The Lee Letter

Circa, 13 March

I’ll be taking: My POLSCI friend who also loves some piping hot tea

Michael Joseph Savage wasn’t just Aotearoa’s first “rockstar” Prime Minister; he was likely our first closeted gay Prime Minister. The Lee Letter follows the fatal power struggle between Savage and his mortal rival MP John A Lee that eventually destroyed both their careers. Sign me up.

The “Lee affair” is the parliamentary equivalent of the juiciest episode of The West Wing you’ve ever seen. Catch me at this show as the MJ Popcorn GIF.

Something’s Starting to Stink

BATS, 17–20 March 

I’ll be taking: My lockdown flatmates I now know far too much about… like way too much

Have you paved over the agoraphobia-inciting, tense and nauseating moments from lockdown with the memory of the one time you made brownies?

Something’s Starting to Stink is here to throw your rose-tinted shades down the gutter.
Follow the lives of three flatmates in Wellington as their lives (and hygiene habits) are put on pause.

It’s time to answer the infamous question “How did you cope with lockdown?” with the glaring honesty it deserves. I am not ready.


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