K'RD STRIP - a place to stand

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

11/06/2013 - 15/06/2013

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

28/06/2013 - 29/06/2013

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

10/07/2013 - 13/07/2013

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

14/07/2015 - 19/07/2015

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

24/07/2015 - 25/07/2015

Assembly, Roxy, Edinburgh, Scotland

25/08/2015 - 31/08/2015

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Production Details


Presented by Okareka Dance Company


 SEXY, PROVOCATIVE AND HUMOROUS, K’RD STRIP IS A STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT TWISTS DRAMATIC SCENES WITH HAKA, DRAG QUEENS, LIVE KIWI MUSIC, AND CONTEMPORARY DANCE. OKAREKA DANCE COMPANY BRINGS TO YOU A WHIRL-WIND SHOW THAT WILL CAPTURE YOUR HEART AND YOUR IMAGINATION.

Ancient Māori mythology, history and intoxicated tales saturate the stage as the all-queer cast skilfully entice you and leave you wanting more. Misfits of society have roamed the infamous Karangahape Road since the early 70s.  A road of extremes where we’ve laughed our heads off and cried our hearts out, where we’ve been flattered and rejected, excited and scared, loved and lost.  A place where we proudly stand in the sun and shamefully lurk in the shadows. Karangahape Road is a bitter sweet vice where life is art and art is life.

THE STARS SHINE ON THE K RD STRIP IN THE NAME OF DANCE THEATRE !

It is important for Okareka Dance Company to produce powerful art that upholds integrity, intention and Mana. It was our intention to create a show that harnessed Māori culture with a variety of disciplines that would travel successfully around the country as well as the world. A strong storyline mixed with drama, culture, contemporary dance, live singing and a carefully selected cast, has enabled the company to grow and develop a new audience outside of its normal demographic. K’Rd Strip celebrates the LGBT community and delivers a positive message empowering the next generation of queers to stand tall and claim their own turangawaewae, their own place to stand. This contemporary fusion exposes a new genre of theatre that will strengthen the fabric of contemporary dance in New Zealand, placing Aotearoa on the map for developing groundbreaking art. While K’Rd Strip tours, Okareka Dance Company will engage and provide opportunities to develop its education programme by offering classes  and workshops to young dance enthusiasts. This will create awareness of dance performance which will have a positive impact on the community.

“Hilarious, heartbreaking, informative, entertaining and spiritually profound.” Cat Ruka

“The acapella version of Split Enz’s Dirty Creative is worth the price of the show alone.” Raewyn Whyte

“K’ Rd Strip is a tumultuous and unforgettable ride.” Jesse Quaid, Theatreview

2015 Matariki Under The Stars Tour dates

Q Theatre Auckland 14 – 19 July

Blue Baths Rotorua 22 – 23 July

The Meteor Theatre Hamilton 24 – 25 July

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Assembly Roxy 5 – 31 August

Original production season:   June – July 2013

AUCKLAND: Q Theatre
MANGERE: Mangere Arts Centre
DUNEDIN: The Regent Theatre
HAMILTON: The Gallagher Playhouse
PALMERSTON NORTH: The Centennial Drive Auditorium
WELLINGTON: Downstage Theatre

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2015
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/k-rd-strip-a-place-to-stand


Performers: 

TAANE METE - DIRECTOR / PERFORMER

JASON TE METE - MUSICAL DIRECTOR / PERFORMER


TAI ROYAL - PERFORMER

WILL COOPER-BARLING - PERFORMER

ADAM BURRELL - PERFORMER;
 JESSE WIKIRIWHI - DANCER


Dramaturg  Rachel House


Choreographic Advisor   Natalie Clark


Lighting Designer/Production Manager   Jonny Cross


General Manager/Producer    Rachael Penman


Producers Assistant/Sound Operator     Crystal Myers


Musical , Multi-discipline , Maori contemporary dance , Dance , Cabaret , Boylesque , Dance-theatre ,


70 mins

Deeply moving, challenging and entertaining

Review by Sarah Tuck 25th Aug 2015

(Trigger warning for sexual violence.)

This is the first production of Okareka Dance Company I have seen and I’m blown away from start to finish. K’RD Strip: A place to Stand is an 80 minute emotional journey throughout a night on one of NZ’s most infamous roads: Karangahape Road, Auckland. The show combines devised dance performance, beautifully mixed with haka and Kiwi songs interspersed with heart-wrenching monologues from six fabulous drag queens. It’s bold, beautiful and powerful as well as everything that is promised: “clever, confronting funny and deeply sexy.”

We are powerfully introduced by the performers emerging from the shadows sharing the historical Māori story of K’Rd. Straight away, I am entranced by the dynamic presence and energy the cast bring onto the stage. They are an exceptionally talented ensemble who unanimously perform gorgeous harmonies, decorative dance, and haka to beautifully depict the story and guide us through the rough and rugged landscape of K’Rd.

We follow the lives of numerous characters, exposed to a pinch of their somewhat tragic story. The main character, Destiny, who carries us throughout, and the homeless man/horse storyline stands out as we sympathise with their entrapment in the culture of the road with an inevitable escape.

The minimalist design gives way to the action and makes it speak for itself, forcing us to engage fully in the storytelling and be confronted with the realities of it over a typical night on K’Rd. Supporting the action, the costumes are a beautifully adaptable design that go from rugged in once moment to absolutely glamorous the next. The lighting design is also phenomenal. It uses reds, greens and oranges to show the true colours of Karangahape Road. From streetlights to disco club lights, it creates a dim eerie atmosphere, absorbing us into the world of the play.

Amidst the glitter and glam – seriously though, those costumes are stunning – the story turns ugly, and we get a serious insight into the reality of the hardship, loneliness and isolation of the drag queen lifestyle. This production specially speaks about the struggle of LGBT in the Māori Community but themes are not just limited here. It’s a powerful reminder about the explicit transphobia experienced in all cultures where in many cases, the result is abuse and sexual violence. 

As I say, this show lives up to what it promises in the blurb, but the biggest problem with this production was that there is no trigger warning for sexual violence/assault in place. With a lack of programmes on arrival into the theatre, it should have been signposted at the box office so one has the choice to opt out. I understand that this show requires us to experience the full impact and historical reality of the violence and actions seen on K’Rd but the extended sexual assault simulated by two of the performers leaves me to question whether it is entirely necessary to have it at all, especially because the assault was already insinuated.

We feel the anticipation and dramatic build-up of the attack through the interactions of the two characters in the previous scene, and we are left to experience the horror of the aftermath as the person injured lies still onstage throughout the next scene. These two aspects are impactful and triggering in themselves which challenges me to say that the simulated rape is completely unnecessary.

I do acknowledge that the disappearance of the homeless character preceding this moment sets up the intention for the sexual assault to be hard-hitting, and evoke a truthful and confronting reaction from the audience. It’s a vital message challenging us to speak up against sexual violence and not turn a blind eye like this homeless guy did. However, the dim lit re-enactment doesn’t add anything new to the conversation, and we end up feeling more concerned about the actors in this scene rather than connecting and empathising with the characters. Given it is a performance with a clear stage/audience divide, we are physically left helpless to act out. Our only option is to look away.

Overall, this is a deeply moving and important production that challenges and entertains. If you don’t go for the story, it’s worth it just go to see the six fabulous drag queens because their performance is absolutely stunning.

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Sassy and stylish, a touching tribute to a kiwi icon and the people who make it what it is

Review by Adam Naughton 15th Jul 2015

Okareka Dance Company return to the stage with their seductive and confronting production, K’Rd Strip: A Place to Stand. First performed in 2013, the show is an homage to all the wonderfully weird characters that create the Strip’s landscape and make it Aotearoa’s iconic road.    

Atamira Dance Company director Moss Patterson and his daughter give a traditional Maori welcome, setting a calm inviting tone and paying respect to the ancestral background and soul of Karangahape Road before the show begins.

Tai Royal emerges on stage, a lone figure glowing from the shadows. The other performers join him, telling the historical Maori story of Karangahape, Royal acting as Hape and dancing the wiri and other kapa haka movements beautifully. The other five performers rhythmically paddle together bringing a waka to life, a simple yet striking image. This follows into haka/hybrid choreography that the performers present with precise clarity and high energy. The Maori connection to Karangahape is repeatedly vocalised throughout the performance, with haka movements and gestures peeping out from the lyrical jazz-contemporary choreography as a strong spirit manoeuvring under and around the landscape.   

Karangahape Road is a beautifully diverse landscape where opposites collide and difference is desired. Each performer presents a unique character, the main three being Samoan/Kiwi Queen (Adam Burrell), who sure ain’t no princess, dazzling Destiny (Tai Royal), who has all the answers you need, and the homeless horse/man played brilliantly by Jason Te Mete. These characters take us into the world of  the K’Rd Strip where we get a personal perspective of life on the condom-scattered concrete. As well as having the glamour of a courageous cabaret, the show shares deeply sad moments where characters reveal their fragile vulnerability and at times tragic existence.    

Jason Te Mete as musical director has arranged a slick selection of songs past and present that are performed musically and accurately, especially by Will Barling’s smooth alto that is accompanied by gorgeous harmonies from fellow cast members. Highlights include Tai Royal’s version of Kimbra’s hit ‘Settle Down’ and Adam Burrell singing Lorde’s ‘Royals’ with extravagant kowhaiwhai patterned fans and a Samoan dance, cheehoo! The performers also do a ‘clucking’ good job as roosters on the prowl.

Each character provides a personal story and pride about who they are. There are moments of romance and love that emerge from the pink-tinted testosterone, such as a duet between Jesse Wikiriwhi and Taane Mete, choreographically simple but performed with presence and gentleness. The friendship between Destiny and Horse is a warm contrast to the regular ‘transactions’ that are done without any real relationship. The Strip is a hard road to take but they show us that within it there is community and compassion.

Elizabeth Whiting’s costumes cleverly complement the choreography and characters in the work. The short black skirts reveal muscly legs that slide into black high-heels, Will Barling’s black long-sleeve top is a perfect fit and Jesse Wikiriwhi’s rainbow-strap top is puzzlingly playful. The Queens sparkle and radiate colour in all directions, like stars fallen to earth, constantly shining.

The lighting design paints the world of Karangahape Road, depicting the neon club lights, dim streetlights where shadows linger and the fluorescent fantasy that is a Friday night.

Taane Mete deserves to be congratulated for his role as director of a diverse and ambitious cabaret. Still in need of a little choreographic polishing, it’s got the glam and grit to become a big hit (hopefully in Edinburgh too). Moving through moments of happiness, sadness and tense conflict, K’Rd Strip unveils the raw side of a road that we all know and might’ve referenced the odd joke about, but maybe have not experienced from a personal viewpoint, nor thought about the reality for the people who embody it. The beauty of K’Rd Strip is that it provides a window into a landscape that is familiar yet unfamiliar to many kiwis, and does so through an entertainingly heartfelt journey.    

 

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Enriching the cultural landscape of Aotearoa

Review by Lyne Pringle 16th Jul 2013

K Road Strip – A Place to Stand is written by and features Taane Mete, Taiaroa Royal, Simon Coleman, Jason Te Mete, Jamie Burgess, Adam Burrell, and Will Cooper-Barling. It is a unique and richly fabulous showcase for the vast talents of the cast. Simon Coleman is consummate in the director’s chair; knitting together a disparate series of scenes based on real life stories.

This is at times  butoh-esque, and  always statuesque cabaret ‘contemporary dance’ performance with primordial form undergoing constant transformation through the body and the power of the voice; eye-lashed warriors in leather miniskirts calling the ancestors of K Road with a karanga in big heels.

Destiny  aka Taiaroa Royal says “We are the taniwha – he one minute, she the next, your fairy fucken horny godmother”.

He/She heralds the performance of a new genre; striking, strident, dark, challenging, provocative – stream of consciousness of gender, of place, of mythology, a mishmash stew, the lens sometimes sharp, sometimes out of focus, often sprinkled with moments of utter genius.

The chickens on the Karangahape ridge, preening, clucking, negotiating the pecking order, seeking and avoiding the strutting cocks: it is clever to pare things down to this and anthropomorphise birds for this theatrical purpose.

Queer indeed and destabilizing; the ‘sexed object’ freed from the strait jacket of restrictive sexual orientation. The performance points to the ‘culture’ of a place like K Road and the way that gender has been enabled to play out in this particular environment:  the menace that lurked/lurks around the edges of this theatre of liminal sexuality. Gender a practice, requiring utter commitment to transforming into hyper feminine ‘ladies of the night’.

In the coiled muscles of Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete there is a universe of expression; the viewer is drawn into their imaginations and a new world through their immense generosity as performers.

This kaupapa bleeds into their colleagues, leading to stellar beautifully nuanced performances all-round. There is a seamless flow between strong solos and taut, committed chorus work.

The most exciting parts choreographically – under the helm of Taane Mete  – are when the movement arises out unusual action such as the hyper male posturing, chicken moves, strutting or a gaggle of giggling gals. The more conventional ‘contemporary dance’ moves seem out of place in this context, and less imaginative.

The vocals under the musical direction of Jason Te Mete are excellent and the arrangements by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper are surprising and superb. The How Bizzare, Dirty Creature and Computer Games numbers leave us hanging out for more, whilst recorded vocals sections jar.

Jamie Burgess and Simon Coleman bring strong acting skills to the performance with Burgesses ‘pakeha-palangi-pucker –pash’ monologue and an ode to a former lover standing out. Coleman’s drunken “What the fuck are you staring at? Did you get eyes for Christmas?”- character and Who am I Today  solo are also strong.  Adam Burrell brings a playful presence.

There is a seductive trio that exposes the fabulous voice of the gorgeously androgynous Will Barling – he is stunning throughout, completely at home in this idiom.

I Wanna Take You Back To My Place is explicit and uncomfortable as the depth of the dark side of the street is exposed using robotic movement and pseudo mime to depict ‘alpha male’ issues of power, manipulation and exploitation.

There is a transition to a pole dance by Taane Mete. Here the body is celebrated as a work of art or fetish with glorious moko highlighting taut contours.

We are back in ‘known’ choreographic territory after the unique and surprising movements prior to this. The phallic ‘pole’ becomes, as the only set on stage, significant and fulfilled – once again subverting and making strange with a male figure impaling for a change

In the middle section of the performance, including the outstanding Computer Games number which is truly inventive;  the material and segues give layer after layer of brilliant surprises.

The image of Taiaroa Royal and his pink feather fans will linger in the memory for a long time – beautifully executed, whimisical, poignant, playful and heartfelt – something to treasure.

Destiny says “I am your Turangawaewae.”  And there we have it. Yet again Okareka defines a place to stand for themselves as a company and in the process enriches the cultural landscape of Aotearoa.

 

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A continuous parade of personality

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 11th Jul 2013

K Rd – Auckland – a place of extremes with a reputation for nightlife that is larger than life and has a dark and mysterious side. A place that creator Tane Mete calls ‘home’ for both the sunny and shady sides. The bookends of this production effectively position the cultural history and legacy of the street and its position as a welcome to the area.

This work is also a welcome – K Rd Strip opens arms and stories to the audience and draws us onto this ridge that sits above Auckland city and has many secrets and stories to tell. An entertaining series of episodic vignettes and personal narratives form a cabaret style evening of smiles and curiosity. A continuous parade of personality is performed by six performers  who give their all in delving into their own experiences and perspectives.

Set and sung to a musical potpourri of songs we all know (the lady behind me sang along with most of the show) we visit K Rd and take away not only a real sense of what makes this strip unique but also the reality of being strong in yourself.

The vulnerability of Tai Royal, the emotional bereftness in the ‘mocha’ mornings of Jamie Burgess and the Midsummer Night’s Dream alter ego of Jason Te Mete were stand out stories that encompassed more than one side of their circumstance. The shady, the finger pointing, the discomfort and the bleak underside of being human were there and confronted.

The genre was cabaret, the mission was entertainment, the dancing was repetitious and not particularly compelling or inventive, but in life repetition is paramount and humour is often gratuitous and cliched. As these guys strutted their stuff they also shared with a big heart of generosity and passion.

From a conception by Tane Mete to the devising by the full cast, many laughs and tears were probably shared – it was a special Karanga that welcomed an audience to share  this journey taken and performed by Tai Royal, Tane Mete, Jaimie Burgess, Jason Te Mete, Will Barling and Adam Burrell.  

The final stripping of all life has dealt and all choices that have been made took us back to cultural vocabulary and song and was a fitting and poignant finale as we left the warmth of these larger than life men and stepped out into the K Rd Strip of Wellington – Courtenay Place – shady and celebrating, desperate and delicious – we are reminded of our right to be ourselves and to embrace the moment. Thanks guys! 

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More wistful melancholy than joy

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 01st Jul 2013

K’ Rd Strip is Okareka dance theatre’s homage to the vibrant, sleazy world of Karangahape Road’s bar, queer clubs and strip joints in Auckland that proliferated there from the 1970s through to the early 1990s. 

Like so many of these urban meeting places of outsiders, supposed ‘deviants’, and those seeking sex on a variety of terms, K’ Road has been increasingly gentrified and cleaned up since these wild, dark days. One might perhaps, then, have expected a nostalgic journey back into an age of outrageous queerness and sexuality, but Okareka resolutely shatter any rose tinted glasses one might want to wear.

Like those sites better known to myself from my own youth in Australia of Melbourne’s St Kilda or Sydney’s still red-lit Kings Cross, K’ Road is presented as a place of both no-commitment sex and self-expression, as well as a place of violence, rape, gay bashing, and even murder. K’ Road was a dangerous place to build a community, and the fact that most of the best bars have moved elsewhere is not necessarily something to lament.

The piece is ultimately a cabaret show: a series of sketches, short dialogues and monologues, broken up by danced vignettes and drag-show style singing /karaoke. Most of the music has however been reworked to varying degrees by Jason Te Mete and Mahuia Bridgeman-Cooper, so that a substantial part of the pleasure of watching the piece is the slow dawning upon the audience of just what song it is they are reinterpreting (is that really Split Enz’s ‘Dirty Creatures’ they are doing a cappella?).

Between this, Tai Royal especially is a striking figure. Like all of the cast, he is dressed only in a black leather miniskirt which barely covers tight black briefs (designed by Elizabeth Whiting). His rich, muscled physique produces a startling effect as he moves through mostly lyrical movement passages. A particularly striking scene has him perform a fan dance, pink ostrich feathers gently clapping before his open face. The gesture is so clichéd, so ridiculous, that it gives an almost unbearable poignancy to his melancholy but loving movement. The other performers are also excellent, Taane Mete often making an impressive, equally built, partner to Royal. 

It is this exquisite, perfectly judged quality of campiness, derived in large part from drag, that defines the piece — but here, this is refined and aestheticised to a degree at best rare if not impossible in the intimate and rough-shod staging of most clubs. K’ Road appears then as a site of fantasy, and when reality and violence intrudes such that the characters’ tendency to see the strip as a welcoming, free home seems all but unsustainable, another flight of fancy is invoked. 

K’ Road comes across overall as a highly fragile, fraught state of mind, an ultimately impossible creation of perfect free lust and self-definition which is always on the verge of collapse. As the statuesque male performers maintain their perilous perfect aplomb whilst balanced on heels and black, vinyl boots that would make a hooker blush, they seem able – if only within this unreal realm of their own creation – to achieve a transformation, a sense of empowerment, and an impression of bliss otherwise unattainable. 

Hookers and drag queens, beat-boys and sophisticated connoisseurs of ‘trade’ and S&M, step into the spotlight to tell their stories, or remind the audience of the intensely lustful direct speech of hooking up for sex by text message, crafting a narrative from scraps of gloss and from their own athletic, exposed bodies. 

Whilst firmly in the realm of camp, in this sense of dress up as both fabrication and truth, the piece is overall very different from club aesthetics and true drag. The small cast, and tendency to focus on monologues, solos and spoken sections delivered direct to the audience, give the work far more intimacy than a big commercial drag show or chorus line à la Crazy Horse. 

Nevertheless, the extreme restraint of design – minimal, monotonal costuming of black, red and pink, each confined to a relatively discrete element; the gaping blackness of the stage which surrounds the relatively few shafts or corridors of light (lighting design Ambrose Hills-Simonson) – prevents the work from having a sense of close proximity and involvement for the audience. 

Especially in Dunedin, where the show is staged behind the massive proscenium arch of the Regent to a very large expanse of seats a long distance from the performers, the viewing is one of formalised, distanced contemplation, rather than visceral, sensual involvement. One rarely gets the sense the performers are flirting with or provoking one, as one would being present at a drag or club show. 

The effect is to heighten the poignancy, to make the lives we are shown seem all the more brittle and in need of protection. When performer Jamie Burgess – a frighteningly tall Pakeha who, like his colleagues, oozes sex appeal during most of the show – steps forward to tell of the fatal bashing of his lover, and how he has decided to buy a second coffee for his deceased partner and pour it out at the site of the murder, this chasm between the crushed human on stage and us lost out there in the auditorium only emphasises the tragedy, and his isolation in that moment of need. 

It is therefore just as well that the performers sing so well, riffling through oldies (another touch of nostalgia here, for a past made from the popular culture and pop songs of the day), and move with such conviction. Taane Mete’s choreography is not especially complex. Indeed, a tendency towards slightly campy expressionism often shows (the chest forward, arms stretched out behind one as the dancer propels himself with meaning and emotion in a rapid run across stage, for example) but, as noted above, this is entirely consistent with the overall mood of the piece. 

Regular comic interludes are provided by a wandering, drunk or wasted clubber (Jason Te Mete) dressed in a wobbly rubber horse head. His ironic rejection of the vaguely mystical elements of the piece provides plenty of laughs, especially when, in fear of these queer demons and taniwha, he suddenly replaces his mask and cowers, shuddering within it.

There is also a strange dance with a giant dildo, which I must say I did not quite get. Was this supposed to dramatise the acquisition of a penis by a transgender figure, or was it just about how great it is to have a big cock? Again though, the company has found a show structure which allows such odd interjections to just mix in with the rather varied flow. 

Generally speaking, I must say the most perplexing thing about this work is how others have received it.

Glancing through the other reviews on Theatreview and elsewhere, I almost wonder if they saw the same piece. Other authors seem to suggest this is an uplifting, fun night out, and frankly it strikes me as a much more thoughtful work, whose principal characteristic is a kind of wistful melancholy rather than joy. 

Either way, given that both Māori and Pakeha have often been less than welcoming to the gay and transgender community over the years, it is great to see a work like this featured in the Matariki Festival. K’ Road always had a high proportion of Pasifika and Māori young men and transgendered subjects in its clubs, so it is good to see this publicly acknowledged in a festival devoted to Māori concepts of seasonal change. 

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Cabaret a whirlwind salute to K' Rd

Review by Raewyn Whyte 14th Jun 2013

Okareka Dance Company’s fast-paced gay cabaret K’ Rd Strip presents a whirlwind salute to the rich history of Karangahape Rd in 21 scenes.

Hape’s karanga to his brothers on the newly arrived Tainui canoe opens the show, and a haka for all who have shared the K’ Rd experience closes it.

In between there are scenes of day and night life, a handful of ghosts and long-term inhabitants, and mercurial shifts of gender identity.

Read the review

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Standing Up for K' Rd

Review by Sharu Delilkan 13th Jun 2013

The standing ovation for this piece was very well deserved. Often you feel manipulated into standing up on opening night but not this time. The sheer amount of storytelling, dance, singing and humour on display tonight was very fulfilling and you could see how much thought, talent and sheer hard work had gone into the development of K’ Rd Strip – A Place to Stand.

When it comes to contemporary dance talents like Tai Royal and Taane Mete are people that are very much respected and revered in the industry. So needless to say I was totally excited about watching them combine dance, theatre, music and waiata to premiere the highly anticipated show. [More]

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Road’s heart laid bare - fizz and fun belie a darker edge

Review by Jesse Quaid 13th Jun 2013

Six amazing performers and one iconic road. K’ Rd Strip is a tumultuous and unforgettable ride. Okareka Dance Company presents arguably their most personal show yet with this evocative montage of all that K’ Rd has to offer. By turns brash and vulnerable, frothy and raw the group has managed to distil the history and essence of this place into a show that touches chords in the audience, whether they are personally familiar with K’ Rd or not.

It begins with Tai Royal posed against a spot-lit pole like a divinity, a genius loci, sacrifice and siren combined. A line of strong, sinuous bodies, followed by Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield’s shiver-inducing karanga sets up a potent resonance in the space, which promptly dissolves into a fabulous rendition of Black Sheep. This is the slide into the rabbit hole, no going back. Midnight misfits indeed.

Director Simon Coleman has brilliantly woven together the disparate elements to create a potent and relatable whole, linking sections with a dreamlike logic that fits the subject matter perfectly. Jamie Burgess’ script is supported by Elizabeth Whiting’s cleverly understated costuming and a music selection which includes iconic songs such as “Pressure Man” and “Love you like I should” along with Eden Mulholland’s atmospheric soundscape. The weakest point is the lighting. While there were moments of pure beauty, some cues seemed a little off, leaving performers underlit. Despite this and technical hitches such as the hazards of new 10 inch heels, a haze-slicked pole and problems with sound levels, this is a captivating and high-calibre show.

The cast is brilliant, and beautifully in sync. Will Cooper-Barling in particular is mesmerising, holding attention even in the company of the always-enthralling Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete. Jason Te Mete, Adam Burrell, Jamie Burgess bring their characters to vibrant life, providing depth and a solid core to the work. Transgressing and transcending boundaries, these men encompass K’ Rd in all its contradictions.

They are shamans. Clad in black leather skirts, they build worlds with twists of bared bodies, percussive stamping and evocative vocals, switching between characters, masculine, feminine, camp, macho. The darkness and the brutality of lives lived at the edges is exposed before devolving again into humour, glamour and froth. It’s mostly the fun that you remember coming out, but the darkness echoes.

The outstanding moments are too numerous to list, but mention must be made of the waltz by the light of cellphone screens, the strip-ode to a billboard and the most beautiful rendition of pigeons ever. Bonus points for making “How Bizarre” somehow work. Ending with a formidable haka, this is an experience that leaves the audience quivering with energy.

Although still raw, unsurprising after an astonishingly short development period, this is a strong show. By the end of its tour, once it has settled and solidified, K’ Rd Strip will no doubt be absolutely breathtaking.

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