CLEVER AND ASTUTE
Writer: Chris Molloy
Director: Te Kohe Tuhaka
TAKI RUA PRODUCTIONS
at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 1 Jul 2014 to 5 Jul 2014
[1hr 20mins (no interval)]
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, 3 Jul 2014
originally published in The Dominion Post
Many communities have dark secrets that are kept hidden for many generations.
One such community is the rural township of Reinga where Chris Molloy's fascinating play Pūtōrino Hill is set.
On his retirement from teaching in Reinga, Old Whiti (Rob Mokaraka) decides to tell his story to a young researcher Sarah ((Lana Garland), a story and secrets he has held to himself all his life.
And so, as he slowly unburdens himself to Sarah, we see, through flash backs, Young Whiti (Jade Daniels) growing up in the town, his relationship with one of the local girls Hana (Kim Garret) and his eventual moving away to be educated.
His koro is the local Pastor who instils in Young Whiti a great sense of spirituality, both Christian and Maori, believing that Young Whiti is the chosen one.
But his koro also has a dark side and after gaining a doctorate in the States and teaching at the University the pull of his home town is too much for Whiti and he returns to teach and remains there for the rest of his days.
Presentedas part of Taki Rua's 2014 season, Pūtōrino Hill arose out of a Māori Writer's Residency at the Court Theatre in Christchurch last year and show's a cleverly and astutely observed piece of writing.
Sparse and lyrical, it skilfully combines reality with the surreal which director Te Kohe Tuhaka has sensitively and creatively brought to life, aided considerably by Brian King's set design, Matthew Eller's soundscape and Nick Zwart's lighting.
The opening of the play is particularly powerful in the way it introduces the characters and creates tension and an air of mystery and intrigue as to who these people are and what is being established.
This continues throughout the play as the unspoken becomes as much a force as the spoken.
And the integrity of the actors is maintained throughout with each bringing an authenticity to their characters that made Whiti's journey poignantly real and one that could occur in any community.
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See also reviews by:
James Wenley (TheatreScenes: The Auckland Theatre Blog);
Janet McAllister (New Zealand Herald);