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

The Raw Shakespeare Project: Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

Raw Shakespeare Project

11th January 2019

McLaren Vale Visitor’s Centre

The Raw Shakespeare Project, previously Little Fish, opened their Summer Season on the 11th of January, with a performance of Comedy of Errors at the McLaren Vale Visitor’s centre. If you haven’t seen a show here, it’s certainly something to put on your bucket list. A Shakespeare company often found out of doors, The Raw Shakespeare Project, with director Damien White, has brought a number of the bard’s plays to life over recent years, showcasing the acting of a number of local and talented actors each sharing a passion for Shakespeare.

The McLaren Vale Visitors Centre is one of four venues to host this performance, three of which are located in the iconic wine region forty minutes from Adelaide. Stage-less, The Raw Shakespeare Project makes use of the open grass at the rear of the building, using the beautiful backdrop of local vineyards, hills, and forestry to contrast with the varied and vibrant settings of various Shakespearean works.

Beginning at seven, the show was designed to take place as dusk fell, fairy-lights and “stage” lights prepared for the evening to come. With one twenty-minute interval in the show, audience members were given the opportunity not only to refresh their drinks, but also to marvel at the changing sky behind the centre as the sun set.

Comedy of Errors follow the story of two identical sets of twins whose lives have been spent apart. Antipholus of Syracuse (Jabez Retallick) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Ognjen ‘Oggy’ Trisic) and their servants Dromio of Syracuse (Phoebe Shaw) and Dromio of Ephesus (Isabella Shaw) are interchangeably mistaken after Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant arrives in Ephesus. As the hilarity of mistaken identity ensues, is becomes “clear” to Adriana (Kate van der Horst) that her husband has gone mad. With the help of her sister Luciana (Heather Crawford) and the Duke Solinous (Damien White), Adriana intends to help her husband overcome his madness. But will Amelia (Shannon Gray) have something to say about that?

With the ready dynamic of the Shaw sisters as the Dromio sisters, and the cheerful antics of White as Solinous, Comedy of Errors was in set in motion. The similarities between the Shaw sisters gave the comedy a feeling of authenticity it might have otherwise lacked.

Despite a few extremely minor hiccups, the show was certainly entertaining and engaging. With much of the audience entranced, the Raw Shakespeare Project certainly paid tribute to the bard. I would recommend experiencing the Raw Shakespeare Company if not for their performance, then for the rich value of the experience: watching talented actors convey stories that aren’t just familiar but ingrained into our culture.

Comedy of Errors will be showing on Saturday January 18th at Beach Road Wines, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of February at Marion RSL, and concluding on Saturday 9th February at Fox Creek Wines.

Tickets for this limited time only show can be purchased online through their website: https://www.rawshakespeareproject.com.au/box-office

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell20181009_105310

Kayla Gaskell is one of the managing editors of Tulpa Magazine. She has a Creative Arts and Honours degree in Creative Writing from Flinders University. As well as working on Tulpa, Kayla writes for Fest, The Eye Creative, Readplus, and more.

 

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

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.