Monday, December 3, 2018

Gig Review: The Catherine Tate Show Live, Opera House, Wellington, 30 November 2018

As the title would suggest, Catherine Tate’s two-hour-plus performance at a sold out Wellington Opera House last Friday night wasn’t so much a stand-up routine, more a live excursion into the various characters and skits that have made her TV show such popular viewing over the past decade and a half. 

Which made perfect sense because the key to Tate’s humour is not the freshness of her act, but rather the familiarity of it, and the ability of her audience to recognise and identify with the disfunction - or outright ridiculousness - of those characters.

From Bernie the horny and incompetent Irish nurse, who opened proceedings, right on through to a prolonged celebration of everyone’s favourite foul-mouthed gran, Nan Taylor, who closed the show, we got a procession of characters and the full range of Tate’s comedic talents. Aided by a cast of three additional performers who played the supporting, more peripheral, roles throughout. 

There were several skits involving Kate, the irritating office worker (“go on, have a guess, it’ll be fun”) before we got the payoff the third time around, but sadly just one each for a couple of my own favourites, Derek (“gay dear? ... me dear? ... how very dare you”), and snotty schoolgirl Lauren (“am I bovvered”). 

There was even a brief pre-recorded (screen/interlude) cameo for Billy Connolly, playing the role of St Peter at the pearly gates. And naturally the night wasn’t going to pass by without a few - relatively brief - reliably non-PC, audience participation moments. 

The extended Nan Taylor sequence at the end included a rendition of the variety show classic ‘Enjoy Yourself (it’s later than you think)’ in a forlorn attempt to get the audience to sing along - something that might work well in the safe environs of an old blighty pub, but something that is much more difficult to achieve with a rather more reserved, sober, and seated antipodean audience. 

There were a few moments - particularly during that final sketch - when Tate struggled to remain fully in character, but none of it really mattered, for the most part she had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand, and I think it’s fair to say that all in attendance left the venue feeling “well happy” (as Lauren might say) with what they’d witnessed from the class act that is Catherine Tate.

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