You will recognise Johanna Cosgrove when she takes the stage during the Waitaki Arts Festival.
She will embody everyone’s female relatives in her one-woman comedy Aunty
“It’s so quintessentially New Zealand,” the Auckland-based writer and actor told the Oamaru Mail this week.
Having just returned from a month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, she realised this show was best saved for audiences back home.
The international crowds in Edinburgh appreciated the show and laughed at its humour, but there were some elements only Kiwis would appreciate thoroughly, she said.
“The power of the show is that it’s a mirror.
“My favourite performance was at the Dunedin Fringe in a friend’s backyard.”
Watching the middle-aged woman in the front row enjoying a drink or two and responding to her work, she thought “This is for you”.
She had a similar experience in Hamilton.
“I’m really excited to come to Oamaru,” Cosgrove said.
Her two Waitaki shows are in Kurow on October 8 and Hampden the following night.
They will be a swansong for the play, which Cosgrove is retiring after creating it and performing it for the past three years.
Aunty was first seen as a 15-minute piece at the Auckland Fringe Festival in 2017, where it was named best comedy.
Cosgrove developed it into an hour-long show that sold out in Wellington and Auckland, then she had it accepted in the line-up for both the Melbourne and New Zealand international comedy festivals.
Cosgrove won the Outstanding Performer title at the Dunedin Fringe Festival in 2018, then went on to sell out at the Melbourne and New Zealand international festivals.
“It’s a really important show to me. It’s based on family and everyone’s aunties – and Mum a little bit, too; the older women in my life and in New Zealand.”
It celebrates all the quirks and foibles aunties bring to any family occasion, but does not shy away from issues that can be “difficult to talk about”.
“What better vehicle to tell that than through comedy?
“The audience is the family – part of the show.”
Anyone who wanted to sit discreetly and watch was out of luck; Aunty would find them, she said.
When asked if she liked this version of the play best, Cosgrove said it was “the tightest piece of theatre”.
“There are definitely some jokes I miss from the earlier versions.”
Cosgrove would travel here with her technician.
“It’s a pretty low-fuss show.”
After “going out with a bang” in Waitaki, Cosgrove will return to Auckland to await judging in the Billy T Award for up-and-coming comedians, for which she has applied.
She would have no trouble finding inspiration for future productions, she said.
“Truth is always stranger than fiction.”