Review: Michael James Manaia
This solo show starts with a welcome and karakia. After a serious start it flips into a madcap story. As the action progresses we hear a man telling us the story of his life – what his parents were like, why he went to Vietnam, what happened there, and what happened when he came back to New Zealand. It takes in multiple timelines and two worldviews. The story is fractured and the man is broken.While we laugh at the stories a sense of dread builds.
John Broughton has written a challenging script. Te Kohe Tuhaka does an incredible job to take us with him on this journey. He and director Nathaniel Lees have worked carefully to allow the character to come alive in an environment that makes it safe for the audience to watch. The design elements in this show work together to enhance the emotional arc of the story. There are some arresting images created by designer Daniel Williams and lighting designer Lisa Maule. Sound design by Maaka McGregor is subtle and threatening.
- Michael James Manaia on at Downstage to 4 March as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012