DIRECT, PASSIONATE BRAVERY
Devised by Massive Company
Directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell
at Q, 305 Queen St, Auckland
From 17 Apr 2012 to 22 Apr 2012
Reviewed by Stephen Austin, 21 Apr 2012
Massive Company are a professional group of deviser/performers who take a personal stance to their work. They are asked to truly bring themselves to the process, and ultimately the performance, to enrich, enliven and entertain with vast amounts of truth, raw visceral movement and deep powerful articulation of the personal to explore universals.
With The Brave – directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell – the eight men are asked to write to the heroes in their lives and the results are poured out in a powerful, sometimes hilarious juxtaposition of kapa haka, storytelling and pure expression through the realities and intimacies of being a man in Auckland in 2012. The main linking factor to most of the men is a deep seated love and respect for family and how their pasts have come to reflect into their present.
Going in I am a little hesitant that my white, middle-class background may be something that is brought to bear on my reviewing of this predominantly Maori and Pacific Island based work. But those misgivings are soon proven to be misplaced as the versatile cast recalls so much that is a universal for all males, no matter class, religion, sexual orientation or skin colour.
There is not a moment of the entire performance where any of the performers let their focus, energy or presence lag. Every actor here – Neil Amituanai, Dominic Ona-Ariki, Leki Jackson Bourke, Scott Cotter, Todd Emerson, Beulah Koale, Jonny Moffatt and Andy Sani – has a story to tell which is utterly vital, fresh and honest and it would be unfair to single any one performer out from the rest.
This is theatre stripped to its bare essentials so the human stories on stage are brought to the fore simply and effectively by those who have lived and are now telling the stories. Excellent sound design and lighting complement it all perfectly, but never intrude on the focus and drive of the performances on offer here.
Each plays to their strengths though and the shape of the work is fashioned accordingly – sinewy movement, melds into graceful dance, into hip-hop, into sports analogy, into boldly impassioned selflessness. There is violence to the action when required and this sets up and sets off the stillness of other scenes and monologues excellently.
The cast are split down the middle as far as experience is concerned; some have been working professionals on stage for many years, while others are very green to the process. Neither of these matter though, as their stories strip away the layers of self and put very human stories and heart out there for us to admire and respect.
There is so much bravery on the Rangatira stage at Q right now. Please do yourself a favour and go connect with this very direct, passionate work of theatre while it is playing around Auckland.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.
See also reviews by:
James Wenley (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);