O Le Pepelo, Le Gaoi Ma Le Pala'ai | The Liar, the Thief and the Coward

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

14/06/2023 - 17/06/2023

Kia Mau Festival 2023

Production Details

Co-Writer / Director: Ui Natano Keni (Samoan/Aotearoa)
Co-Writer / Producer: Sarita Keo Kossamak So (Khmer/Aotearoa)
Script Advisor: Tusi Tamasese
Choreographer: Tupua Tigafua
Kaumatua: Nathaniel Lees

I Ken So Productions, founded by Sarita So and Natano Keni

‘O le Pepelo, Le Gaoi Ma Le Pala’ai’, ‘The Liar, the Thief, and the Coward’ is set in a not so distant past Samoa, where Pili Sā Tauilevā a proud Ali’i from the village of Moa has suddenly fallen ill sending him into a fast downward spiral, leaving him unable to tend to his duties within the family, church and village itself.

In a sacred paradise where “your path to leadership is through service”, Pili’s dwindling light sends the family into overdrive to keep the fire going. But nothing plays out as expected when others come out to join the race.

As principles change will the foundation of Pili’s family remain?

Circa Theatre (Circa One)
Thurs 15th – Sat 17th June 2023
6:30pm (Thurs 15th), 8pm (Fri 16th and Sat 17th), and 2pm (Sat 17th)
PRICES: $25-$35
BOOK Itickets at https://www.circa.co.nz/package/o-le-pepelo-le-gaoi-ma-le-palaai-the-liar-the-thief-and-the-coward/

Semu Filipo
Fiona Collins
Albert Latailakepa
Taofi Mose-Nehemia
Maurea Perez-Varea
Brett Taefu
Jake Arona
Villa Junior Lemanu
Lanakila Opetaia-Tiatia

Production Manager: Nicholas Batey
Set Designers: Mark McIntyre & Tony De Goldi
Lighting Design: Isadora Lao
Sound Design: Emi Pogoni & Karnan Saba
Costume Design: Cara Louise
Stage Manager: Samoana Nokise
Operator: Wren Glover
Poster Artist: Rose Miller
Photography: Mike Clare

Theatre ,

120 min including 15 min interval

A rollercoaster from being shocked, to hysterically laughing to fighting back tears

Review by Theodora Esera 15th Jun 2023

O le Pepelo, le Gaoi ma le Palaai (The Liar, the Thief and the Coward) follows the journey of Pili Sa Tauileva (Semu Filipo), a proud ali’i from the village of Moa, and his household. An illness begins to take over him, and his family and household know he doesn’t have long to live. There is this urgent demand from his wife Fa’asoa (Fiona Collins) and two kids, daughter Vailoloto (Maurea Perez-Varea) and son Matagi (Albert Latailakepa) to announce who will take over the throne to continue the sacred legacy of serving through leadership.

Amongst this household lives the nofotane Afinamumu (Taofi Mose-Nehemia) who’s duty is to serve the family and work from the kitchen along with the tautua, or referenced as ‘tama’i toea’ina (Lanakila Opetaia-Tiatia) who is the help. Outside lives the other tautua/ fesoasoani/ narrator Vaofefe (Jake Arona), who sleeps on the gravestones and feeds the chickens on the Sa Tauileva chicken farm. Here he has somewhere to stay and eat. Also there is Reverend Kilifi (Villa Junior Lemanu), a constant visitor to the family.

Throughout the play, the flaws and hidden agendas for each character unravel, and we learn why they want to pursue the title. Family secrets come to light, and faiava Masina (Brett Taefu), an unexpected character, ends up shaking the podiums of the Sa Tauileva house.

This piece is beautifully written and directed with crucial details; the use of Gagana Samoa and English through the speaking Orator, references to well-known Samoan superstitions, and Samoan traditions tie into the story. The way the cast conveys their characters with their unique personalities is incredibly convincing.

The lighting of the set is also very detailed and well thought out. Everything has a meaning and is used in so many versatile ways. It is beautiful, creative and really brings the story to life. This show has me on the edge of my seat right from the beginning to end. It takes me on a rollercoaster of so many different moments from being shocked, to hysterically laughing to fighting back tears. What an incredible opening night.


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