Review: the beautiful ones
Hana (Awhimai Fraser) was sent away from the club in disgrace by owner Mr Sir (Tanemahuta Gray). She promises boyfriend, Ihia (Manuel Solomon), that she will return on a particular night if he dances from dawn to dusk. But she is frightened by his father Sir Sir, (Nathan Gray) and unsure as to how she will be received by the rest of the club workers (Te Hau Winitana, Sandip Dosanjh, Paige Shand, Braedyn Togi, Sharn Te Pou, Vanessa Immink). The Lady (Kali Kopae) and The Lord (Scotty Cotter) are determined that however nervous she is, Hana will return to Ihia. The future depends on it.
Being in the club provides plenty of opportunity for cast members to show off their talents. As the core character, Fraser brings a vulnerability to Hana along with a beautiful singing voice. Solomon complements this with a core of strength mostly shown through dance and movement. Their scene at the end is exquisite. Twins, Tanemahuta and Nathan Gray, are menacingly efficient, and feral, respectively. Their energy on stage is balanced by the dance crew who cheekily dart their eyes at members of the audience. Cotter provides some necessary gravitas on stage as he stalks his way through the dance crew. This is reflected in Kopae’s Lady to his Lord – she is forcefully feisty as she first sings, then interacts with various characters. Full on aunty style. Sharn Te Pou is amazing in both movement and voice.
At times, as the images flow over the screens and a syncopated rhythm fills the space I find myself wondering when the performers are going to come back on stage. Then I realise that I don’t need them. The story is being told via the images and the music. Likewise with the ensemble dancing which seemed to reflect the community’s response to Ihia’s emotional state. It’s a different kind of theatre which I find intriguing. Writer/director Hone Kouka has drawn together an amazing crew of creatives to bring his vision of a ‘hyper real digital love story’ to life.
When I saw this show in development last year I admired its ambition and audacity. The story needed a bit of clarification along with the invitation to the audience to participate. I’m really pleased that these areas have been worked on, making this an outrageous combination of dance, music, visual effects, and performance.
Reminder: There are $5 tickets for the show this Friday 3 July. ($5 covers venue hire, you’re welcome to give a koha as well.) Book at Circa Theatre on 048017992
- the beautiful ones at Circa Theatre to 11 July 2015
Disclosure: my sister is the choreographer.