A Matariki offering from Taki Rua demonstrates the depth of Maori theatre as a 20-year-old play resurfaces with its sparkle undiminished by the passage of time.

Briar Grace-Smith's uniquely poetic vision achieves universal appeal through its vividly detailed focus on a particular rural community that presents itself like a hologram composed from an accumulation of luminous fragments.

The troubled young woman at the centre of the one-person show is embedded within a dense network of community relationships and her struggle to find a sense of purpose is an outward-looking, open-ended quest that provides an appealing alternative to the self-absorbed perspective that often consumes identity-based drama.

The idea that personal identity can involve self-giving is beautifully articulated in a potent mythological story of a tupuna who is captured and taken out to sea where she cuts her long red hair and throws it into the waves so that her mana will return to her people.


An assemblage of hard-case characters are convincingly brought to life in Kura Forrester's understated performance that is well suited to the play's wonderfully naturalistic dialogue.

She also uses a deadpan sense of humour that is perfectly pitched for a hilarious scene in which a frustrated dreamer working in a sauce-canning factory conjures up a spiralling fantasy about Kate Middleton and her bodyguard.

Miriama McDowell's direction and Jennifer Lal's lighting design sumptuously accentuate the poetic quality of the script with a delicate tracery of light inscribing a red circle on a black ground that resonates like a Ralph Hotere painting.

The low-key ending avoids bringing everything to a neat resolution and the protagonist's journey is as messy and inconclusive as real life.

Where and when: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, to July 1