FatG: Fringe at the Gryphon, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington
09/03/2021 - 11/03/2021
Everything Lynda has done in her life, she has done to make her parents proud. When she discovers she’s pregnant, and has to sit through a potluck with a house full of people and her nervous Pākehā boyfriend, she struggles to balance her family’s cultural beliefs with her own.
Life as a first-generation immigrant is not always straightforward. Writer/Director Kiya Basabas created Potluck to pay gratitude to her upbringing and to highlight parallels other Filipino-New Zealanders may have experienced. Potluck touches on shared values within the Filipino community, but also how varied the immigrant experience is. It explores conceptions that others hold about Filipinos and challenges these. It also takes form of Filipino life in the present tense, which is different to what it was like even 10 years ago.
“Potluck is a love letter to my parents, family, the Filipino community, and all first-generation immigrants. But it is not only for these demographics. I would not call it a Filipino play, but a New Zealand play with Filipino-New Zealander actors. Ultimately, it is a show about family. They are who the audience will fall in love with.” – Kiya Basabas
Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Tues 9, Wed 10, Thurs 11 March 2021
Tickets are $15 Concession, $20 Full price and $14 Fringe Addict.
Tickets can be purchased at https://fringe.co.nz/show/potluck.
Lynda – Fergielyn Catayoc
Lynette – Odette Dulce-Madrisa
Dante – Ralph Hilaga
JR – Nathan Alarcon
Liam – Oliver Howlett
Camille – Donna Enriquez
Chris – Sam Irwin
Nicole – Hannah Bonita
Kathleen – Nynelle Teves
Isko – Joseph Teves
Lighting designer – Matthew Brown
Stage manager/Adult chaperone – Charlette Potts
Costume designer – Kyra Basabas
Chefs – Marita and Orlando Basabas
Media image design (illustration of food) – Kisa Bowker (née Basabas)
Theatre , Family ,
Offers more than may first seem to meet the eye
Review by John Smythe 10th Mar 2021
To watch Potluck with a full house of young Filipino-New Zealanders, doubtless including the children of first-generation immigrants, adds extra value to my experience of this significant world premiere. Huge bouts of laughter align with the Matariki fireworks – of which more in a minute.
Writer and director Kiya Basabas has crafted a well-wrought play that sets a slowly revealed personal family crisis amid a potluck dinner attended by two other families. That the cultural and generational differences are somewhat predictable makes them no less valid; these are timeless and universal themes that every culture and generation need to explore anew.
What lifts this play to another level is the playwright’s deft balancing of real-life issues with insightful comedy and her decision to make the occasion a Matariki celebration – an ingredient that comes fully to the fore in the final moments, ingeniously blending and refreshing all the elements to achieve a potent resolution.
As Lynette and Dante Ocampo, making final preparations for hosting a potluck dinner that already looks delicious and over-catered, Odette Dulce-Madrisa and Ralph Hilaga establish a slightly fractious but clearly loving relationship. Their son JR, embodied by Nathan Alarcon, is instantly recognisable encased in his headphones.
First to arrive is Liam, a Pākehā uni student whose contribution to the feast is a packet of gingernuts – the response to which is nicely understated. He is the boyfriend of the Ocampo’s yet-to-appear daughter Lynda, who is studying law and film. Oliver Howlett captures Liam’s awkwardness well and the ‘quiet chat’ Dante has with him about how best to navigate their next five years is astutely calibrated for comedy. Liam’s departure into Linda’s room prompts Lynette and Dante to compare and contrast how it was for them at that age, before they came to NZ.
Next to arrive are the Liddells: Camille (Donna Enriquez) and Chris (Sam Irwin) and their nose-in-a-book daughter Nicole (Hannah Bonita) – about 8, I’m guessing – whom Camille wants to sign up to a modelling agency. The Santos couple, Kathleen (Nynelle Teves) and Isko (Joseph Teves) with the three-month old baby, asleep in a car capsule, complete the gathering.
There is a lot going on when Fergielyn Catayoc’s Lynda joins the party and reluctantly leads the Christian grace, at her mother’s request. Chat around the table naturally touches on such topics as language (the importance of English for getting a job v the importance of retaining your first language), job prospects (Physicist Dante had to work as a taxi driver), colonialism, the state and fate of the planet … and ever-changing value systems. The sacrifices each generation makes for the next are mentioned more than once.
As all this and more plays out, it becomes apparent, to us in the audience, that Lynda and Liam are wrestling with a major dilemma. But Lynette’s insistence that they all join in a game of RNS (a word association elimination game) takes precedence – and almost leads to the proverbial beans being spilled.
Beautifully woven throughout the adult action is the quietly self-assured and aware Nicole (about 8, I’m guessing), whose book becomes instrumental in getting Lynda focused. Although Lynda’s unexpected condition is stated in the publicity and in the programme, it stays under the parental radar: a scene left for us to play out in our own imaginations according to our own views on such matters.
So, when those who have gone outside to watch the fireworks return, and Nicole asks Lynda to tells them the story of Matariki, an ingenious parallel is drawn. We are left to muse on how this initially volatile but finally life-affirming legend will compare with the response today’s parents will have on discovering what their daughter and her boyfriend have done.
*(Tāwhirimātea, the god of wind, became so angry at the separation of Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother, by their children, that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens (mata ariki: the eyes of god). The appearance of this constellation in mid-winter now the heralds the new year: a time for remembering those who have recently died and for feasting on what has been grown, harvested and stored, in anticipation and celebration of the new life to come.)
Only on twice more, Potluck offers more than may first seem to meet the eye.
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