BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
12/06/2019 - 15/06/2019
WORLD PREMIERE SEASON OF FISHIN’ CHIP
After a tragedy, Chip races to her treasured houseboat. A stolen treasure and a birthday later, Chip is faced with the law, her sister and most terrifyingly, her Aunty.
Chip is then forced to care for something for the first time in her life. Can she cope with responsibility? The Māori in a white family, the Pākehā among Māori. An evil step-mother, naive younger sister, and an Aunty who knows more than she lets on.
When forced to confront her poor decision making, how much anger can come from a lack of belonging? What does Taika Waititi and Lilo and Stitch have anything to do with this? Will Chip ever find home?
After a successful reading in Breaking Ground Festival in 2018, Maia Diamond (Writer & performer), Moana Ete (Director) and Vanessa Immink (Producer) have teamed up to bring Fishin’ Chip to the 2019 Kia Mau Festival.
The Heyday Dome
12 – 15 June 2019
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15
Group 6+ $14
*Access to The Heyday Dome is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.
Writer/Performer: Maia Diamond
Performer: Unity Brown
Director: Moana Ete
Producer: Vanessa Immink
Production Design: Rose Marie Kirkup
Lighting Design & Technical Operator: Isadora Lao
Sound Design: Moana Ete
Dramaturgy: Mīria George
Potentially packs a powerful punch
Review by John Smythe 13th Jun 2019
The set – with shimmering metallic blue streamer walls and a bunch of yellow balloons – is festive, in celebration, as we will learn, Chip’s 20th birthday. But Unity Brown’s grey-clad Fenn, Chip’s half-sister, clutching a golden syrup tin, is deeply displeased. Her imminent threat is averted by Chip’s shouted promise that she will tell Fenn the truth.
Chip’s bright yellow hoodie and ‘I Heart NZ’ undies are also bright and lively (production design by Rose Marie Kirkup with lighting by Isadora Lao). And first-time playwright Maia Diamond’s performance as Chip is upbeat, to say the least: the complete opposite of Brown’s relatively contained and therefore magnetic embodying of Fenn, Chip’s Aunty and a Mystery Woman who gives hitch-hiking Chip a lift.
The ‘truth’ Chip reveals, as promised, is quite hard to fathom – until the end, when all the well-planted visual and verbal pieces come together. Such elements as the goldfish gift juxtaposed with Mount Vic Chippery fish ’n’ chips, the boat Chip is hiding out in, her trip across Te Whanganui-a-Tara, her interaction with Aunty then the hitch-hiking with the Mystery Woman while fearing capture by the police, are entertaining in themselves – although the wacky business with the wig and foreign accent feels more like a display of acting prowess than something germane to the plot and theme. Meanwhile we have to trust it to deliver answers to all the questions being raised – as it does.
I’m tempted to quip that a number of times we can’t see the play for the acting. Diamond’s Chip does have every reason to be panicked and manic, given what’s happened, but less shouting and literal leaping about, and more ‘being’ the character in Chip’s situation would draw us into her reality to greater dramatic effect. (This may, in part, be a function of the high stakes at play this opening night.)
Aside from the distraction of trying to work out what exactly has happened and is happening, and in what order Chip’s story is playing out, Fishin’ Chip, the play, is in essence a creatively crafted evocation and exploration of a young woman’s identity crisis and the tumultuous consequence of its being unresolved. Diamond’s programme note suggests Chip’s state of being has evolved from her own life experience:
“What Chip learns of the course of her birthday took me five years,” she writes. “There is an anger that stems from a lack of belonging, as a Pākehā-raised Māori. In truth, it is uncomfortable. I both benefit from and am oppressed by my ancestors. As we walk in two worlds, I discover I will not be comfortable with either until I am comfortable with the colour of my skin.”
So that’s what Chip is fishing for – hence the title. It’s a profound premise we can all relate to at some level, if not subjectively then in terms of better understanding the world we live in. The revelation of how emotional issues and mental confusion have led to a misunderstanding with destructive and potentially tragic results offers an object lesson for us all. And when the production is better modulated to capture that all-important ‘get it’ moment, it will doubtless pack a powerful punch.
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