How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker 2020

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is not something I thought I needed coaching on. I’ve been doing that for years; nonetheless, Anna Thomas has opened the cellar doors to not just the elitist holiday-makers but to us catastrophic normal folk. Cinching together real-life anecdotes, grape facts, and wanky wine nomenclature, a new realm of wine tastings have been established.

It begins with entering the Treasury 1860 Bar – a modern, gold and marbled accented room attached to the Adina Hotel. Ordering a drink [palate cleanser] followed by the wine wankers flight [participatory aspect]. I was highly unprepared for the fact I was the only one alone and it’s very well lit. There are maybe 35 other people packed into the wall-clad lounges, and I wonder: what is this show actually about?

Shortly, I am put at ease with the likes of a socks-without-shoes sporting woman whose warm smile welcomes you to her space. A space that, through sincerity and grounded humour, allows you to reflect upon your own journey. Not truly knowing how it is ‘on the nose’ or what an ‘oaky finish’ is works in my favour – her (un)pretentious descriptions transform the crushed grape into an experience. Her experiences. We are held captive by Anna’s storytelling, silent and immersed into the saga she paints before us.

“I’m the Grenache of the corporate world!” she exclaims after her analysis of the underrated wine. The wine was brilliant and is something I would never have found if not for this show.

Ana scoops up every self-proclaimed wanky monologue of spicy, nutty accents with a hint of realism. She explores the trials and tribulations of her corporate career and the ominous big questions we all swirl around the bottom of the glass – Who am I? What do I want? Part theatric monologue, part conversive narrative, Ana pinpoints the crossroads of her life and creatively pairs them with the six South Australian wines in our flight.

The show delves deeper than grape juice antics as she unravels her path through the adversity and heartache of womanhood, self-discovery, and vino consumption before you. At times, I could see the vines of the Barossa valley open up before her as she led us through her musings of Merlot and being a woman amongst the corporate top dogs.

Three whites, three reds, an hour of powerful storytelling and the unmissable opportunity to be a Wine Wanker for an evening.

4/5


Words by Taylor Veltman

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is running a sold out season at Treasury 1860 until March 15

For more information click here and to see our 2018 interview with Anna Thomas click here

Honest

‘I think I may be a bit of a cunt.’

That’s the line the play begins with, punctuated (as if that were necessary) by performer Matt Hyde downing a shot and slamming it on the bar. From that moment, you know this will be an immersive and challenging experience.

In the hands of a less able actor, the play’s sole character, Dave, would be a simply unpleasant character. Hyde manages to ensure that as angry and bitter Dave may become, he is always a character with a moral compass. Whether that be his assiduous maintenance of the truth to an individual feeling remorse for his actions, Dave is too prickly to be deeply liked and too real to be disliked.

When the play opened, I caught sight of Hyde at the bar, slightly dishevelled, nursing a beer, and checking his phone. I didn’t know when he’d arrived. He was just there. This blurring of lines is fundamental to the play as Hyde has Dave do a shot with an audience member and lock eyes with other members of the audience as he delivers diatribes against dishonesty and ignorance. The front bar of Treasury 1860 proves a perfect venue as Dave could easily be a tired, unhappy government worker winding down after work – however no such person would likely be able to hold the audience in rapture like Matt Hyde does.

Across an hour, we witness the breaking down of one man in such a way as to offer insight on the nature of masculinity, alcoholism, mental health, and a host of other crucial subjects. There’s still humour to be had in the play but it feels utterly organic and never just an attempt to lighten the mood. It is just the fact that humour can be found in almost any place and the writing by DC Moore and the acting by Matt Hyde ensure that the play never reaches too far for humour, it is just balanced to perfection.

It may hit a little too close to home for those who have witnessed the terrible toll alcoholism and mental illness can take on a person but even to such people, this play will likely offer some additional insight.

It’s not an easy play but it’s not trying to be – and nor should it. Hyde’s absolute commitment to the role keeps the whole room on edge and hanging on his every word as he sells the experience to perfection. Audience members will almost certainly feel that uncertainty and concern that comes from meeting someone like his character Dave. As Dave orders another shot to hammer home a point or just as he moves from one topic to another, the actor seems gone, replaced by the character.

Uncomfortable in all the right ways, funny in unexpected ways, and fundamentally honest, this play does exactly what it sets out to do.

 


Words by Liam McNally

4.5 stars

Honest is playing at Treasury 1860 February 26-28, and March 2-3. Tickets available here.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a deeply enjoyable play that draws upon a host of cultural references to put layer upon layer on an already tightly-plotted and playful show.
With a cast of four and a room upstairs from Treasury 1860, the team prove deft in building ancient Rome and all its populace from the deep recesses of history.
Sadly, their run is limited to three shows at the Adelaide Fringe, the last being Sundays the 17th’s (today at time of publication) performance. After the performance the audience was informed this was their first sell-out show which seems absurd for a play of this quality. This a piece of theatre that draws upon things as broad as Doctor Who, ancient Roman history, hardboiled detective stories, and Shakespeare yet requires no assumed knowledge to enjoy. If you know nothing of Shakespeare’s works or the history of Rome, you will learn something. If you are already familiar with all this, you’ll enjoy hidden facets and jokes. This is a play for everyone and does an excellent job at managing to keep the interest and enjoyment of all in the audience.
The play moves at speed, making full use of its 50 minutes to play with history and with the expectations of theatre. Every element that could pose an issue for the production such as their limited cast (standing in for the majority of the ancient Roman populations), props, or simple limitations of the stage, are mined for comic material.
The piece plays with convention, finding humour in the nature of theatre, including an unexpected nod to audience participation. It’s clear from early on that this is a well-polished performance that plays with expectation and knows exactly how to use it to yield the greatest results. The audience was as diverse in age as possible and yet they managed to engage everyone at all times as there is something for everyone to enjoy.
A true highlight of the Fringe, be sure to catch The Ides of March before it’s gone. Hopefully they will be back next year and should they be, you can be certain tickets will not be so easy to come by.

 


4.5 stars.

Word by Liam McNally

The Ides of March is playing at Treasury 1860 until February 17. Tickets available here.

 

In Coversation with: Anna Thomas of ‘How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker’

This past Fringe Festival saw the debut of Anna Thomas’s one-woman play, How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker. Met with praise and glowing reviews, this play returned for a limited run this July. The Treasury 1860 bar is once again the setting for one of 2018’s stand-out shows.

Arriving outside of the Fringe period, the show stood by itself for a time before Anna takes it to the biggest Fringe Festival on Earth, the Edinburgh Fringe, in August. With the show’s return and an exciting future beckoning, Tulpa sat down with Anna to discuss where the play came from, how it went, and where it will now go.

The story of how the show came to be is long and winding one. Anna explains that she always loved the arts and studied for a time at university before necessity taking her towards a more corporate path. Following her corporate life, Anna took up a role doing wine tours, although she fully admits to not having a huge amount of wine knowledge. She says it was her theatre skills that came to the fore in pretending she was so capable in her new job. It was also during this time that she met some of the “wine wankers” that would help inform her play. ‘I found myself, in the first six months, telling stories of the ridiculous wine wankers that I would meet’, she explains.

The play continued to change as she worked on it. ‘Initially, the idea was going to be more comedic and silly but as I started writing it, it felt a little shallow and this far more serious narrative took over,’ says Anna of the performance’s tone. This play is a mixture of tones, with the blend of personal experience and absurdity of wine wankers. Anna acknowledges her concern the title could have appeared too whimsical or satirical – ‘fortunately lots of people took a chance and didn’t have that predisposed idea of what it was.’

Once the play was out in the wider world of the Adelaide Fringe, Anna says she found the response to be ‘really wonderful and really shocking’. She says that she had only truly performed the play a few days before the first show, even to her husband. At the third show, she got a standing ovation which  took her by surprise. Not long after, a review got out from The Advertiser, and within four days she had a sold out show. Suddenly, it ‘had this ridiculous momentum about it’. The response was not universal though; Anna recalls that a ‘couple of gentlemen didn’t like the show – they thought it was too feministic. Someone wrote a review saying there was too much discussion about the glass ceiling. But I quite enjoyed that too because it meant it pressed buttons for everyone’.

Across the play’s run at the Fringe, she explains that there was a bit of change. The content remained relatively unchanged, but the delivery was altered. One of the key changes she describes is that her initial intent for the play was to be more traditional,but gradually the fourth wall came down bit by bit. She says she ‘found that the intimacy grew over time, and by the end, what was really lovely was that I felt like I could throw away a few lines when I needed to lighten the mood and I felt so connected with the audience and by the end there was this really lovely experience where I almost knew how it was going to fall and I knew how the audience was going to react.’

Another change to the play came in the approach to the more emotional content, which Anna says she initially approached with more caution. ‘Because of that caution,’ she says, ‘it caught people off guard too much’. With a few performances complete, she let that ease in a bit more so ‘people felt more comfortable with their emotions’.

Several months after the initial, very successful, run of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker, the show returned for July’s limited run. How does this change the situation? ‘I [was] a little more scared. I was running off the back of the Fringe [last time]. Everyone’s very willing to take risks at Fringe time.’ Anna explains that the more risk-accepting crowd of the Fringe is gone now and a show in July requires its audience to have a more determined intent to go to a show. ‘It’s a more conscious choice’, she says, rather than the audience simply picking from the Fringe’s offerings.

This run in July served a few purposes for Anna as a performer. With the Edinburgh Fringe approaching, this allowed her to test the play on an audience in quite a different environment. It also helped in fundraising for the costs inherent in taking the show’s co-stars, the wines, over to Scotland.

Anna is adamant to acknowledge the aid of Arts SA and the Made in Adelaide grant she was awarded. ‘That has definitely afforded me this opportunity,’ she says. She was one of a select few to receive this support, and their involvement has been instrumental in getting the show to Edinburgh.

At the Edinburgh Fringe, Anna will be performing at ZOO Venues, in their cabaret bar which she says she has been to, ‘many Fringes ago’. She says she is conscious of the challenges in transporting her show across the world. Anna explains that in the UK, certain wines are appreciated differently. This necessitates a slightly different approach as the characteristics of the wines plays an important element in the performance. Merlot, for instance, the wine upon which she places ‘the pinnacle of the story’, is not so underappreciated in the UK as it is in Australia; ranking the second-highest selling wine in the UK.

The future beckons beyond the Edinburgh Fringe as Anna tells Tulpa she ‘definitely’ plans a season next year. She has also picked up a few regional tours that will see her take the show to McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Offers at the Brighton (UK) and Hollywood Fringes also being presented ensures the success of How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker has every opportunity to carry on further.

 


Words by Liam McNally

Your Bard

Treasury 1860’s front bar provides an intimate scene for our audience with the Bard. Will Shakespeare comes alive for an hour to discuss his career, the highs and lows of life, and the seemingly immortal question of whether he wrote his plays.

Your Bard deals in genius wordplay, Shakespearean in-jokes, and general theatrical joy. This is not a play (let alone a play within a play) – this is something quite different. Gone is the fourth wall and other expected elements of theatre and instead we have a real and true audience with Mr Shakespeare.

We are taken through his career, lost years, and emergence as a playwright. Dealing with mystery and questions as this performance does, it is only fitting that once we have some answers, we are provided only with questions. Did William Shakespeare write his own plays? Of course. That was always what I was taught by the most passionate lovers of Shakespeare I’ve known and an answer given from the performance’s start to its end. That’s not an end to proceedings, though. It’s merely a beginning, as much more fascinating questions are raised throughout.

The show is truly a thorough success. It’s true that those who already have a love of Shakespeare will probably get more out of it, but there is still plenty to enjoy for someone still new to the worlds of William Shakespeare. The fact that the show is able to work on so many levels, according to the audience member’s familiarity with the immortal Bard, is a testament to the absolute success of the performance.

For someone already familiar with Shakespeare, this is unmissable theatre. For someone new to Shakespeare, this is still sure to be an enjoyable, and even educational play.

It’s hard to define the performance by traditional standards as it feels so natural and perfected by performer Nicholas Collett that it’s easy to suspend all disbelief and simply enjoy your audience with the Bard.

In character, Collett takes you through Shakespeare’s career, noting such famed plays as Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and Mac- sorry, the Scottish Play. He also takes you through Shakespeare’s life, such as his marriage to Anne Hathaway, the loss of his son Hamnet, and into his final few years.

It’s an excellent show, played to perfection, and there’s not really any other show that allows you to shake the hand of Shakespeare as he pops by the bar for a quick beer.

 


Words by Liam McNally

Four and a half stars.

Your Bard is playing at Treasury 1860 on February 27-March 1, and March 3 & 4. It is also at Rastelli at Stirling Fringe March 11 & 12. Tickets available here.

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker was not what I expected. It had far more emotional heft and raw truth about than one might expect. It manages to evoke in the audience a mixture of emotions as complex and heady as even the most fascinating of wines.

Nestled into the Treasury 1860 bar, the show has an intimate feel, which serves to make the show’s more hard-hitting moments all the more powerful, and reminded me somewhat of the setting for Cheers. A bar, the universal problems of human angst and confusion, and some alcohol. It’s quite the mixture. There’s also a touch of Sideways about it – but dare I say, better.

With a deftness of touch performer Anna Thomas is able to take us through the full range of human emotions in an hour. In the hands of a less skilled performer, the changes between the light and whimsical and the moving and powerful would have jarred. Not so here, as the pacing and shifting of tone is handled artfully.

The show takes the audiences to places they would be unlikely to expect for a show with such whimsical title but that serves only to add to the performance’s strengths.

The show is built around six wines: first three whites, then three reds. The comparison between characteristic of the wine and emotions and experiences is handled excellently. The audience has the option to play along and taste each wine, creating a journey that transcends senses and taps into something intrinsic. I heartily suggest you elect to taste the wines as you go through as this opens up elements that may otherwise be missed.

Anna Thomas describes the wine in the manner of a ‘wine wanker’ but also imparts upon it a feeling, an impression, and with each sip, it is hard to argue with the choices she makes and the conclusions she draws. This is an incredibly personal, honest, and affecting performance and received one of the most thoroughly-earned rounds of applause I’ve ever witnessed.

All around, a transcendent performance, mounted well, and with a fitting choice of venue in Treasury 1860. This sharply honest, painfully real, and warmly human show will tick all the emotional boxes and manages, somehow, to be educational along the way too.

 


Words by Liam McNally.

Five stars.

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is playing at Treasury 1860 every Saturday and Sunday until March 25. Tickets available here.