THE CAVE ABOVE THE PA: Te Ana I Runga I Te Pa
20/09/2012 - 22/09/2012
This Community-based theatre piece tells the story of Maori leasehold land and its impact on race relations in Greymouth.
Regent Theatre, Greymouth
September 20-22, 7.30pm
Theatre , Community-based theatre ,
An indispensable and timely work
Review by Greg O'Connell 24th Sep 2012
Let’s be clear: The Cave above the Pa is a fictional story. And it is a relevant and constructive one.
Those familiar with Paul Maunder’s work will know that this is not a writer who shies away from an uncomfortable examination of issues. In this play, Kiwi Possum Productions brings the history of Greymouth leasehold land out under the stage lights.
Following his research of the subject and interviews of people locally, Maunder invents an imagined conversation between the parties involved, set in the context of the memorial gates incident.
The Chairperson of the Land Trust, Hione (Paul Maunder), is visited by the local Mayor, Bill (Jason Johnson). In a neat dramatic pun, theatre-in-the-round staging allows us to see all the way around every aspect of the confrontation.
Hione holds mana and Maunder exudes all the necessary gravitas, as well as displaying some fine reflexes with his walking stick. The role is a wonderful vehicle for Maunder’s superbly modulated delivery, from furious whispers to anguished laments.
The Chairperson and the Mayor engage in a sophisticated battle of cross-cultural logic, each arguing his case with impassioned appeals to reason and tradition.
As Bill (the local Mayor), Jason Johnson is an able foil in the extended duel with Hione. In this role, shorn of his distinguishing dreadlocks, Johnson appears every bit the conservative, establishment figure. His strong physical stature adds menace to the simmering argument and complements the swift, resolute gestures of Hione.
Rochelle Hutson debuts in the role of Hione’s granddaughter, Aroha. George Super as the truck driver, and Prue Bowen as the driver’s mate, deliver delightful and spirited cameos suggesting that both actors would impress even more given larger roles.
The technical crew comprises Paul Kearns (technical/design) and Freya Johnson (music/effects) with Heather Fletcher offering directorial input.
The discussion that followed the play was not only worthwhile but also fascinating, heartfelt, and informative. Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn gave considered responses to a series of genuinely interested, probing, and challenging questions from the audience and cast. And this respectful sharing of views proved the ideal climax to a play that inspires us to reflection, and to action.
Greymouth is fortunate to have Kiwi Possum Productions, and all the requisite skills of such a dedicated theatre group. The Cave above the Pa is an indispensable and timely work that invites us to consider, as individuals and as a community, the type of future we truly want. And, by implication, asks what we are willing to create, change and contribute in order to achieve it.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer