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COMPELLING BUT NERVE-RACKING

Print Version

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012
MICHAEL JAMES MANAIA
by John Broughton
directed by Nathaniel Lees
Taki Rua Productions
DOWNSTAGE SOLOS

at Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland
From 25 Feb 2012 to 4 Mar 2012
[2hrs]

Reviewed by Janet McAllister, 7 Sep 2012
originally published in New Zealand Herald

The music sets the tone for this excellent, troubling Taki Rua revival, even before all the audience has arrived. The melody is jaunty, but the lyrics jar with that bubbliness: "I don't know what to do / I feel so helpless." The sharp shadows of palisades in the gloom add to the foreboding – as does the deliberate ricketiness of Daniel Williams' intriguing set; later on, its rafts of sticks seem to threaten lone performer Te Kohe Tuhaka with impalement at every turn.

This play sits within the Maori family heavy-drama genre; however, the external crisis is wrought not by dealings with Pakeha, but with war. The title character is a Vietnam veteran in a boiler suit, weaving his own history through with certain Ngati Kahungunu myths - stories of twisted families, tricksters and Hine-nui-te-po. [More
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See also reviews by:
 Tamati Patuwai
 Ewen Coleman (The Dominion Post);
 Helen Sims
 Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
 Richard Mays
 John Ross
 John Smythe
 Terry MacTavish
 Barbara Frame (Otago Daily Times);