On A Different Shelf

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

25/11/2008 - 30/11/2008

Production Details

Pacific Theatre – Sex and the City meets Polynesian Divas 

Being a single female in your 30s isn’t a crime… unless you’re a Polynesian woman.

On a Different Shelf written by Sandra Kailahi and directed by Katrina Chandra follows the adventures of four Polynesian women over the course of a year.

Ana, Sosefina, Lani and Maria go looking for love, sex, marriage and men. Not necessarily in that order.

This raunchy, tender and true comedy of four friends on the hunt for happiness is a wicked celebration of female friendship.

On a Different Shelf is the first play for new playwright, Sandra Kailahi who was selected for the Pasifika Playwright Development Forum run by Playmarket and Auckland City Council in 2005.  She also participated in Playmarket’s Playwright Studio in 2007 under the guidance of writer and director, Fiona Samuel.

"It’s been an amazing adventure in the past four years and I am so grateful that I was able to develop my script with the help of some of this country’s best talent."

Ms Kailahi says the idea for the play which she terms when Sex and the City meets Polynesian Divas was born after having lunch with some friends and laughing about their experiences of being single and over thirty.

Acclaimed Director, Katrina Chandra of His Mother’s Son takes Kailahi’s play to another level.

"She is amazing and has brought the play alive with such conviction and colour," says Ms Kailahi.

The play features four talented women, Christina Bristow, Fiona Collins, Cherie James and Jenni Heka.

The Stamp programme at THE EDGE has also shown their support by putting the show on in the Herald Theatre and helping Sandra Kailahi through mentoring and producing the show. The show is also supported by Creative New Zealand, Arts Alive, Air New Zealand Niu FM and Revlon. 

On a Different Shelf  
Herald Theatre,
Tues 25 – Saturday 29 November
at 8pm and Sunday, 30 November at 6pm.
$25.00 (Service fees will apply)

Ana:  Christina Bristow
Sosefina:  Fiona Collins
Maria:  Jenni Heka
Lani:  Cherie James

Producer:  Sandra Kailahi
Set Design:  Peter King
Stage Manager:  Anders Falstie-Jensen
Sound/Lighting:  Katrina Chandra
Operator:  Jonny Cross

Hearty, poignant and very funny

Review by Sian Robertson 28th Nov 2008

The play is about four women in their 30s: a Tongan, a Māori, a Samoan and a Niuean, who are close friends and all single, looking for love or something resembling it. They walk into a bar…

The friends take a wry look at their love lives so far, commiserate on family pressures to get married and provide grandchildren, celebrate their freedom, rub each other up the wrong way, go shopping together, get sozzled together and trawl for eligible bachelors.

On A Different Shelf is not just an overview of romantic aches and pains, but also delves into the heartache of friendship that goes hand in hand with its familiar joys. All the characters are appealing, at times making you want to hug them – at others making you want to smack them one.

Jenni Heka is laudable as the excruciating romantic, Maria, whose taste in music, men and baby names frequently makes her friends gag in disbelief. She’s the most annoying character, as well as a real sweetie and the one who, in the end, displays the most courage and forgiveness.

Fiona Collins is on fire as the down-to-earth, shamelessly fun-loving Sosefina, who doesn’t do second dates.

They’re all looking for the thing they think will make them happy: Maria wants a fairytale wedding; Sosefina wants a piece of arse (Mr Right Now); Ana (Christina Bristow) is a confidently single, pragmatic career woman, who doesn’t plan to settle for anything less than ideal – if she goes the rest of her life without a man, so be it; Lani (Cheri James) mainly wants to get over her ex-husband and get on with enjoying life her way.

None of them get quite what they wanted or expected.

Sex and the City meets… well, something much closer to home. Playwright Sandra Kailahi’s theatre debut is hearty, poignant and very funny and Katrina Chandra’s lively direction leaves nothing to be desired.

The girly gossip sessions, jibes and teasing are true to life: embarrassing, fatuous, but raucous fun, and fed by the staunch undercurrent of sisterhood, with its ups and downs, which any woman who’s ever had a female best friend (or three) has experienced.

Searching for happiness, the friends must navigate the choppy waters of love, marriage, juggling loyalties, family expectations, and the nature of being alone and being together.

On the night I went, the women in the audience outnumbered the men at least 20 to 1. You definitely don’t have to be a girl to enjoy the show, but I reckon it helps.


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