Janet McAllister on the arts

Janet McAllister looks at the world of the arts and literature.

Theatre review: The Brave, Mangere Arts Centre

By Janet McAllister

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Cast Pic for NZ play The Brave. Photo / Supplied
Cast Pic for NZ play The Brave. Photo / Supplied

What:The Brave.
Where: Q Theatre until Sunday, Mangere Arts Centre until April 29.

Massive Company productions are usually long, intense embodiments of serious issues, but for their 21st birthday they've lightened up with this well-executed 90-minute pastiche of hopeful life snapshots.

The format is similar to their 2006 show Up Close Out Loud, but the change of atmosphere is refreshing and uplifting.

Directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell, the good, personable, energetic cast of eight young male actors gives us glimpses of autobiography and quirky personal details interspersed with beautiful, measured group movement.

Love letters are recited to family members; poignantly, Massive veteran Scott Cotter - an excellent chorus leader throughout - gives his in sign language to his deaf grandma.

Others show that the trauma of teenage-hood can be overcome and understood; Todd Emerson talks of being bullied for being gay, a good inclusion in a show with a masculine theme.

Not that adulthood is entirely perfect; showman Beulah Koale's self-awareness is deep, but he's still "scared of girls". Cue a hilarious drag dreamgirl sequence led by Cotter, all cheeky expression and wicked eyebrow.

Jonny Moffatt and Cotter also raise laughs with a dancehall parody about "shots on Ponsonby Rd" (flat white double shots, that is).

More generic are the supposed life lessons: "I don't have to alter me to be me" and so on.

Jane Hakaraia's sympathetic lighting warms and fills the bare stage, and the incidental electronica is sweetly delicate, which works nicely against assumed ideas of masculinity.

However, the birds twittering Disney-style are misplaced at the end of Andy Sani's heartfelt tribute to his mother, who has cancer; luckily, the actors work against such schmaltz and it is easily ignored.

The dance varies the pace nicely, and provides some of the show's best and most original sequences.

The all-male cast makes sense, thanks to the physicality between actors rather than their individual tales.

They leap and hold each other athletically, roughhousing affectionately as boys do before they become old enough to learn restrictive self-consciousness. Masculinity presented as warm, generous and playful.

- NZ Herald

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