Awhi Tapu

On the bus ride home after seeing this play I was mentally comparing it to The Brothers Size.* I couldn’t quite figure out why. I think it’s something to do with the inevitability of the story and the lyrical, rhythmic aspects of the script. Maybe it was the connection to three male characters and one quiet ‘other’ off to the side. Perhaps it’s the connection to the helplessness that some people feel about their situation. I found both shows to be powerful and disturbing experiences.

The story is set in a tiny timber town that has been abandoned by the timber company because of a government decree protecting the forest. The four characters – Wendyl, Raj, Sonny and Girl Girl – grew up together. Under Wendyl’s leadership they are waiting in Awhi Tapu for the world to change and their fortunes to improve. Wendyl (James Tito) holds tight to his tenuous control over the group. Raj (Matariki Whatarau) aka. Casper chafes at the restrictions of small town life. Sonny (Tola Newbery) misses his son (his missus has taken him to Rotorua and shacked up with Sonny’s brother). Girl Girl (Kura Forrester) is traumatised by the disappearance of her father and does not speak.

There is wonderful physical work by the actors, supported by the design team. A pallet is used in several different scenes to augment the emotional intensity. Simple objects used in complex ways. It’s terrifically funny in parts and gut wrenching in others. I liked the script used stories within stories to influence the characters as well as provide the structure for the narative. How are you influenced by the stories that you hear?

An entertaining yet thought provoking show.

Awhi Tapu by Albert Belz, presented by Taki Rua at Downstage to 30 July.
Book at the box office, phone 04 801 6946.

Matinee and Audio Described Performance Sat 23 Jul, 4pm

Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8pm
(no shows Sun and Mon)

*The other thing that it reminded me of was Operation 8 which is on at Paramount.

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