The Victorian wench Olive Copperbottom and a squalid gaggle of crusty characters are coming to Waiheke Artworks Theatre in late September. Olive Copperbottom: A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox is the creation of clever writer and performer, and New Zealand’s own ‘Pop Tart’, Penny Ashton.

Olive Copperbottom is a one-woman show created, says Penny, to bring the world and Waiheke more, after the popularity of Promise and Promiscuity. That show was a rollicking success on the island when Ashton was last here – and at many other venues nationwide. Only a pandemic could have kept Ashton’s hilarious Victorian characters at home. 

Penny plays 15 different roles in this solo Dickensian musical, which she says, has quite a bit about the control of women’s bodies, an “annoyingly pertinent” issue, she says.

Olive Copperbottom has had great reviews wherever she’s been and in Canada won Best Overall Show and the Best Musical at the 2017 Victoria Fringe Festival.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said “Ashton is a one-woman one-show wonder, switching between a cast of characters with ease and grace.”

“Sparkles with wit, intelligence and verve,” said the Christchurch Press.

Coming up with the Dickens-inspired orphaned hero Olive Copperbottom and her 14 acquaintances called for a sure-fire formula. Says Penny, “Take some busy rhymes, add a swirl of literature, a dollop of sass, a slurp of innuendo, a pinch of glitter, a good splosh of silliness and a nice sturdy corset.”

You can see the show at Artworks Theatre on the September 24 and 25: Olive Copperbottom: A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox. Masks will be required for the duration of the show. •

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