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