Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in 'He reo aroha'Do Tawata have a hot-line to beautiful? This is the second production I’ve seen from them in as many weeks that has opened my heart and lifted my mood. He reo aroha has been around for a few years now, touring New Zealand and the world. It keeps to a minimal aesthetic – a couple of chairs, some guitar stands and cases. The focus is all on the performers Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill. They are wonderful to watch and listen to.

The story is that Kaia (Kopae) and Pascoe (McCaskill) grew up together in the tiny town of Ti Kapa. They fall in love but Kaia, wanting to make a living as a singer, leaves Ti Kapa and Pascoe for the bright lights of New York.  Pascoe, heartbroken, throws himself into his work, eventually saving enough money to buy a fishing boat. After two and a half years they are reunited…or are they?

Songs are threaded through the production, as performance, incantation, lament, and celebration. Kopae and McCaskill play multiple characters. (They also sing as different characters.) Both establish a relationship with the audience that has us in fits of laughter one second and close to tears the next.

A note:  The fanzone is pretty close to the theatre so you may have to close your ears to what is going on outside. With such engaging performances it’s easy.