Review: How To Drink Wine Like A Wanker

Both touching and humorous, How To Drink Wine Like A Wanker is a refined story of personal growth, told through a wine tasting trajectory. (Image source: How To Drink Wine Like A Wanker Adelaide Fringe)

By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim

How To Drink Wine Like A Wanker (HTDWLAW) is unlike any Fringe show on the market. Audiences are welcomed into the elegance of Treasury 1860 and met by Anna Thomas, the star of this one-woman show about a life-changing love-affair with South Australia’s beloved beverage.

The bar in Treasury 1860 is an intimate space. Thomas performs on ground level, metres away from her audience, rather than on a raised stage which usually plants a barrier between performer and audience. Seated on the padded benches which border the room, ticketholders have nowhere to hide, but Thomas’ endearing and charismatic persona makes the audience feel at ease.

Thomas’ physicality is theatrical as she ambles around the bar, often with a wine glass or bottle in hand serving as an extension of her being. This movement is integral to maintaining the audience’s attention and highlights her strength and confidence as a performer. Dramatic gestures are speckled throughout the show, enhancing Thomas’ storytelling and reminding audiences they are in fact watching theatre, not simply having a conversation with an old friend.

Throughout HTDWLAW there is a constant thread of self-reflexivity that acknowledges both the pretentiousness of the wine wanker, and the humble beauty of the wine world. This duality is demonstrated in Thomas’ narration, as she uses language which emulates wine tasting notes. This language is wonderfully superfluous and provides a rich imagery for listeners that beautifully decorates Thomas’ journey.  

As the writer of HTDWLAW, Thomas’ connection to the narrative is prevalent. The words are undeniably hers, allowing her to bring a vulnerability to the performance that enriches recounts of heartbreak, womanhood, and motherhood.   

Audiences have the opportunity to participate in HTDWLAW by tasting a flight of South Australian wines selected by Thomas herself. Each wine represents a pivotal chapter in Thomas’ journey. Tasting these alongside her narration creates an intimacy incomparable to other theatre experiences. The wine flight is optional, though highly recommended.

People have often used food as a device for storytelling; however, wine is equally as genius. The 4D experience of HTDWLAW is emotive, amusing and resonates particularly well with a South Australian audience as wine is central to our state’s identity.

How To Drink Wine Like A Wanker is playing at Treasury 1860 until March 21 2021.

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