LEGEND: a development

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

14/03/2020 - 16/03/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

Real Men. Real Stories. Real Funny

What does it mean to be a man in Aotearoa 2020?

Exploring influential figures from famous rugby players to everyday heroes, Legend asks us who we are we giving the young people of New Zealand to look up to and what masculinity is.

A devised work featuring live music, shaped by award winning writer, Courtney Rose Brown, directed by Moana Ete and with performances from Sepelini Mua’au and Dominic Flanagan; this kiwi comedy hopes to open a discussion for its audiences.

The Fringe Festival iteration will be a place for feedback and development of this work with the overarching goal of touring around Schools in Aotearoa in our second phase of 2021.

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
14 – 16 March 2020
5:30pm & 6:30pm
Full Price $18
Group 6+ $16
Concession Price $14
Addict Cardholder $13

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Performed by Sepelini Mua'au
Accompanied by Dom Flanagan

Choreography by Daniel Gagau
Set Design by Scott Maxim and Brooke Soulsby
Lighting Design by Isadora Lao
Production Internship by Tyler Clarke
Production and Stage management by Olivia Flanagan
Videography by James Cain
Hero Image by Cosmo Bones

Theatre ,

1 hr

Clearing up the mess men make

Review by John Smythe 16th Mar 2020

This development season of LEGEND is working towards the goal of touring around Schools in Aotearoa next year.

The loud amplified opening announcement suggests we’re about to witness something like a pro wrestling bout. Testosterone bounces off the walls as Sepelini Mua’au and Dominic Flanagan roar in like heroes and prance and posture while verbalising and physicalising their mission: to open up a discussion about masculinity – toxic masculinity and good-man behaviour – in ‘open dialogue’. To prove their sincerity they smash the patriarchy. The word. On a sign. Initiating the growing mess that will litter the stage as the hour progresses

Their self-effacing admission that they are “two cis-gender males taking up space” who may not even have the right to be there provokes a song about having to earn the respect males tend to assume is theirs by right. The whole tone, up to this point, feels somewhat tongue-in-cheek – which makes us sit forward in our seats: are they taking the piss, off on a guilt trip …? Where will I stand in either case?  

Sepelini’s letter to his 5 year-old self is sincere. Likewise those to himself at 9, 12, 16, 26 and now, which punctuate the show with compassion, insight and a growing critical self-awareness.

Meanwhile, as Sepelini and Dominic brainstorm ideas for an action movie, they flip through charts that quote revealing stats about male dominance in various sectors – including suicide. Now we see a serious purpose in all their ‘Real Men-Real Stories-Real Funny’ show: confronting what it means to be a man in Aotearoa 2020 can be a matter of life and death.

Mates catching up over a drink and exchange the usual face-saving lies, offset by one sharing their inner thoughts and feelings quietly into a hand-held mic: both times the results are revealing. They play out a New York gangster-style film scene were a minion brings unwelcome news to the boss about women making accusations of sexual assault. We’re left to process where responsibility lies.

A ‘live news cross’ has a field reporter tracking the progress of two university students – dubbed ‘First Timer’ and ‘Too Good for Them’ – having sex for the first time, with questions of consent to the fore. A couple of Facebook sessions, impressively physicalized, touch on loss and grief, and the anxiety induced by becoming addicted to it.  

A boy playing with his earth-mover toys and his sister’s ‘Billy Bear’ poignantly reveals his anxieties about his parents split-up and his desperate desire to help. His father’s anger explains a lot – and bodes badly for a future where the boy may reflect and repeat the same behaviour when he becomes a husband and dad.

There’s a ‘She’ll Be Right’ rap song too. It all builds to a crisis point before the performers take a deep breath and start clearing up the mess. The laid out artefacts reminds us what has played out. Personal statements from both men are presumably designed to open up the foreshadowed ‘dialogue’ – not that that happens in this development season. That will be something to be judiciously manages in an education environment.

Meanwhile LEGEND – devised with writing support from Courtney Rose Brown and dynamically directed by Moana Ete – brings Fringe audiences a male perspective on themes that have been thoroughly explored by women this Festival.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo