Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

19/03/2013 - 30/03/2013

Production Details

Brought to you by the collective Pacific Laboratory Theatre (PLab).

PLab was formed out of a desire to create contemporary Pacific works that are engaging, meaningful and challenging to the pacific theatre status quo.

Our emphasis is on experimentation with theatrical devices and form and really extend not only what stories we tell as contemporary Pacific practitioners, but also how we tell these stories.

This process has been about what content speaks to us and how we can shape that content to speak to you in an engaging and meaningful way.

Developed from Hypothesis 1, LE TONU. THE DECISION is a reaction of several pacific compounds (family, the past, religion, duty, the future), ground in Aotearoa and distilled through the urban New Zealand Samoan experience.

This piece looks through the eyes of New Zealand Samoans and focuses on the impact of living in a new society. Detachment, lack of knowledge and an urge to belong were the founding aspects of this show.

Follow the Story of Grandpa as once again he is setting out for yet another epic journey.

Come along; bring your values, your conversations, your traditions – Your lens.

(No Shows SUNDAY and MONDAY)

Tickets ranging from $20 Adult, $15 Concession $10 Children and High School Students….

TICKETS available from iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz | (09) 361-1000 

Intimate portrayal

Review by Frances Morton 27th Mar 2013

Clocking in at 45 minutes, Le Tonu – The Decision is a short play but it is by no means slight. With just a bare stage, three actors, one chair and a basic story it traverses deep themes facing Auckland’s Polynesian diaspora touching on modern Samoan history, cultural identity, the trauma of the Dawn Raids and intergenerational tension. And it does all this without getting bogged down, because at its heart, Le Tonu is a tender family tale.

It’s Papa’s birthday and the family are gathering to celebrate. Peni (a booming, brilliant Fasitua Amosa) is trying to juggle the event plus more longterm arrangements for his aging father (Max Palamo), who is suffering from dementia. Peni comes up against nephew Lucky, played by Beulah Koale, who has a special connection with his grandfather and is endearingly patient with the old man’s repetitive tales of the past. A scene in which Lucky bathes Papa is beautifully done and particularly poignant. [More]  


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Brisk theatrical parable

Review by Nik Smythe 20th Mar 2013

A single, softly lit wooden chair graces the empty stage.  Three men enter and, before launching into the play, introduce themselves by way of a haunting Samoan hymn. 

Fasitua Amosa is Peni, the hardworking, forthright son of elderly immigrant ‘Poppa’ (Max Palamo) whose birthday party is today.  Peni’s sporty nephew Lucky (Beulah Koale) arrives to help set up and graciously tend to his beloved Poppa, while Peni frantically fields calls from impending family, as well as conducting other, more covert-sounding discussions …

There are no accessories besides the aforementioned chair and a wooden drum and stick, serving multiple roles: a breakfast dish, an umu pig, birthday cake et al.  This minimalist, abstract form of staging is conversely infused with totally natural portrayals of recognisable, realistic people.

The three primary characters each undergo a clear, if uncompleted journey.  The central journey may be Lucky’s, and Peni may be calling the shots but this is really Poppa’s story as he fondly and/or solemnly recalls his eventful life of trials and triumphs, often sparked by an inadvertent remark or sound.

Meanwhile each player’s clutch of distinct minor roles flesh out the scene, between them bringing multiple generations of the whole extended family of gossiping wives, earnest uncles and unruly squabbling children to life.

With no playwright credit, presumably the cast devised the story with directors Shadon Meredith and Amelie Reid-Meredith.  While the dramatic core is impressively solid, the divisive plot point of Peni’s titular decision is perhaps played a little too obviously as the theatrical device that it is.

In the programme notes, co-director Shadon Meredith declares his desire for working towards a “collaboration-inspired world”.  This wish appears in direct contrast to Peni’s seemingly autocratic ruling on the solution to his perceived family problem, which I daresay is intended to be the point. 

As the brisk theatrical parable that it is, I believe The Decision would be an excellent travelling production to play in high schools, followed by ongoing discussion on the prevalent issues of family, responsibility and inclusion. 

Alternatively, given a budget and a second act, the company could potentially explore these themes more deeply within the narrative and perhaps offer some greater form of resolution for the characters. 

[Note: LE TONU. THE DECISION was originally developed and reviewed as Hypothesis One.]  


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