Theatre review: Weaves - yarns with New Zealanders

By Janet McAllister

Kate McGill tells tales of New Zealanders in Weaves.
Kate McGill tells tales of New Zealanders in Weaves.

For anybody frustrated by small talk, these interesting glimpses into other people's lives could be your antidote of anecdotes.

Weave's show constructor Kate McGill interviewed a wide variety of people and performs brief excerpts of their answers verbatim. It turns out that Kiwis can be wildly articulate.

"The highway to hell takes an even steeper dip into politics," McGill intones as "Kev".

Later in Weave: Yarns with New Zealanders we find out why a New Zealand Prostitutes Collective organiser thinks transwomen have to leave the bullying of small towns: "They have to get the hell out of there, because they would die."

Sobering.

The show frames the vignettes as investigating New Zealand identity but the vague sub-thematic groupings don't seem to add much and Maoritanga isn't given the prominence one might expect within a discussion of national culture.

Still, neither is it ignored, and one Pakeha uses a vivid extended simile to describe learning te reo: It's like gaining the depth and perspective of binocular vision after being one-eyed all your life.

While family and romance aren't discussed, interviewees' comparisons of New Zealand with countries they've visited overseas are revealing as are their home tales of assimilation and often unwitting racism.

Under Alice Canton's direction, McGill does a reasonable job of sketching in each character's physicality and voice. The device of writing themes and pseudonyms in marker on brown paper is distracting and unnecessarily didactic but Amber Molloy and Zach Howells' lighting helps to shift focus between characters.

So don't read the set walls; instead, just listen to great and generally optimistic stories from fellow Godzone residents, while enjoying some classic Kiwi baked goods.

What: Weave: Yarns with New Zealanders
Where & when: Studio, Basement Theatre To: April 15
Reviewer: Janet McAllister

- NZ Herald

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