The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Review: Digging to Cambodia

by librarykris on June 14, 2019 in Festival, Theatre

Poster image for DIGGING TO CAMBODIASarita So revisits her Toi Whakaari solo show, turning it onto a longer exploration of making memory and history telling. “Through words, movement and songs from Cambodia’s 1960’s rock era – Digging to Cambodia is a letter to her past, present and future self, it asks us all “What is worth remembering?””

So wears a long red dress with embroidery across the bodice. She tells us about Cambodian singers in the early 1970s who were combining Western Rock with their own musical traditions. Two projected backup dancers join her as she sings one of these songs. She tells us of her dream to be an apsara dancer when she was younger while demonstrating the delicate hand positions and floating movement of the form. She digs into the air while telling us that journalists, activists and artists were among the millions killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. So is an engaging performer who keeps our attention as she darts around the stage.

The show is structured in layers with repetition of action. Each layer takes us deeper into her investigation and closer to the heart of the story – her family. I like the way the 12 years between the first version and this version are acknowledged. She has had another 12 years to consider how her family has coped with death and rebirth and her thinking has evolved in those years. 

At one point she says something like ‘I’m always digging – digging for treasures, digging for knowledge, digging for truth – because I’m curious.’ I’m glad she has shared her curiosity with us. Wonderful.

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