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

20/06/2012 - 07/07/2012

Production Details

World Premiere.

Enuamanu, Summer, 1975. Rotorua, New Zealand. 

Jimi Hendrix, motorbikes, ika mata and the dawn raids. 

It’s two days before twins Luka and Lucia finally cross into adulthood. Free, they roam the steam-filled streets of Rotorua on Luka’s trusty Bonneville and dream of taking on the world. Luka desperate to escape, Lucia to become Miss Geyserland. 

The twins work with their devout father at the local sawmill, uninspiring to them, for him where he has been since he first brought his family to this dry and broken land.

A near death experience drags father back to memories of Atiu, Cook Islands and the secrets and mistakes of his past, shaking the family’s foundations and ultimate love of each other.

A coming of age story.

Sunset Road 
Circa Two
20 June − 07 July  
Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm; Sunday 4.30pm  

Adults $40
Seniors (65+) /Students/Beneficiaries $35
Friends of Circa (until 7 July) $33
Sunday Special (Sunday 24 June) $25
Groups 8+ $25
Under 25 $25 

Kaumatua                      Tupu Araiti
Writer/Director              Miria George

Mum                               Tina Cook
Dad                                Rob Ringiao Lloyd
Lucia                              Aroha White 
Luka                               Nathan Mudge

Set/Costume                      Tony De Goldi
Set Assistant                     Wai Mihinui
Lighting                               Ulli Briese
Sound/Music                       Karnan Saba

Choreography                     Tai Paitai  
Translations                       Tupu Araiti
Stage Manager                   Ahi Karunaharan
Lighting/Sound Operator   Laurie Dean
Production Assistant         Challen Wilson
Production Manager           Ahi Karunaharan
F.O.H                                  Circa Theatre

Media                                Tawata Productions
Electronic social Media    Challen Wilson
Print Design                      Rose Miller

Producer                            Hone Kouka – Tawata Productions  

Tale of family rift has roots in reality

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 23rd Jun 2012

Developed from the accounts of her family migrating to NZ from the Cook Islands, Miria George’s Sunset Road, currently playing at Circa Two, weaves both reality and symbolism through the stories. 

In the mid-fifties Dad (Rob Ringiao Lloyd) left the Cook Islands for Rotorua seeking a new life in a new land. The year is now 1975, the setting of the play, and he has been working in the saw mill for 20 years.  Mum (Tina Cook) works in a hotel.  The two youngest, the twins Luka (Nathan Mudge) and Lucia (Aroha White) also work in the mill but it is two days before their 21st birthday and one day before Lucia enters a beauty pageant.  Dad has a dream that they will go off to law school but Mum knows they won’t because Lucia wants to be crowned Miss Geyserland and tour the world while Luca, Captain Cook Islands, wants out and away on his Triumph motorbike.  But dad harbours a secret he and mum have kept from the kids all their lives which he can no longer hold back and so he tells all.  This causes a great rift in the family with much anguish and grief and with far reaching consequences. 

Writer Miria George canvasses various issues through the play such as the infamous night raiders looking for over stayers prevalent in the seventies, disaffected youth and of course the culture clash and assimilation of fitting into a new life – the adults drawn back to the islands while the children are wanting to move forward.  However these are never really explored in any great detail although the trauma of a family in turmoil is effectively portrayed as being both heart felt and heart wrenching. 

And the production, which is also directed by the writer Miria George, initially comes across as languid and slow with little clarity in what is going on not helped by the unnatural delivery of the stilted dialogue.  However, once the revelations of Dad’s secrets start to hit home and the realisation of what it all means unfolds the pace and action of the production picks up.  The emotions are raw and exposed with Tina Cook as Mum showing genuine angst at her family being torn apart. And Nathan Mudge as Luka also portrays a real sense of a young man caught between his wanting to get away and the love he has for his parents.

Tony De Goldi’s set design with very effectively carved Maori pou – like the blades of a mill band saw – serves the production well as does Ulli Briese’s evocative lighting to make this while not a wholly satisfying production nevertheless an interesting one. 


Make a comment

Insightful, delightful and powerful drama

Review by John Smythe 21st Jun 2012

It’s 1975 and a little piece of Atiu – also known as Enuamanu: land of birds – in the Cook Islands has been roosting in Rotorua for 20 years. As a variation on their mythical ancestor Mariri Toa, who flew to Hawaiiki to get good things for his people and bring them back, a family from the village of Areora has flown their coop to share in ‘The New Zealand Dream’ so the children can be educated and fly even more freely into a wide world of opportunity.

Playwright/director Miria George has drawn somewhat on the story of her grandparents to create this work, weaving into it iconic elements of Kiwiana and anchoring it to a secret involving a relative’s misguided pride that tries to hide a shame that leads to blame and the dream’s inevitable crash to a steaming, mud-pooled earth.

Toni De Goldi’s stylised set featuring milled timber pou against a sky-blue background, with a small rostrum stage left and a coconut husker stage right – all subtly lit by Ulli Briese – allows director George to ensure fluid transitions between the scenes.  Karnan Saba’s sound design adds excellent texture.

As well as the specific dance-related sequences, choreographer Ta’i Paitai has presumably contributed to such stylised physical representations as being high above the city, of flying, of riding the streets on a Triumph Bonneville …  

Central to the story are the inseparable twins, about to turn 21. Luka, who could have been dux and owns the motor bike, dubbed Little Wing, dreams of ‘flight’ to Minneapolis (its birthplace) or Sydney or London or anywhere. Lucia has flown through Junior Geysers and Miss Teens to be a serious contender for Miss Geyserland, and the $500 prize money will abet their plans for freedom, even if it does mean they have to stay around for a year while she goes to the Nationals.  

Nathan Mudge (if Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando had a child …) and the luminous Aroha White are wonderfully symbiotic as Luka and Lucia, their growing differences somehow adding strength to their bond.

Despite their parents’ dream of sending them to university, Luka and Lucia somehow didn’t go back for a final school year and drifted into the timber mill where their Dad has worked for 20 years, rising to the status of foreman but doomed never to pass the salary test.

We find him in a strange state of mind, immediately after a band-saw incident, it turns out.  There are issues with his eyesight and “something has come undone … a question waits to be asked …” Rob Ringiao Lloyd brings an impressively centred abstraction to Dad, commanding our interest and empathy even when he seems to be floating above another world in another time.

The ever-patient, strong if taken-for-granted foundation for the family and firm believer in the here and now is Mum, played with immense inner strength by Tina Cook even as the world around her crumbles. Her refusal to pray alongside her husband is fascinating, especially when she addresses God himself in the act of asserting she’s not a believer.

The reasons for her disillusionment with the church and its hierarchies becomes apparent in a dramatic and climactic revelation I cannot detail here. It must suffice to say all four actors play it and its aftermath out with a gripping yet well-contained power.

Each audience member will have a different response to the revelations and the way the characters respond. The allegations that he waited until he had an audience, he only cared about himself and setting himself free, are key to understanding the outcome, even when we know the truth had to emerge sometime; even if we think they could and should have reacted differently.

If that is oblique, I make no apology; if it is enticing then good: be enticed. Sunset Road takes us through 100 minutes of insightful, delightful and powerful drama that captures an essence of displacement; of being in a land of promise that never feels like home; of being in a family that is other than it seemed to be. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council