In the opening scene, where one of the cast member's chairs fails to spin around during the first song due to sabotage, Larger Than Life puts all its cards on the table. It's a comedy, it's a musical, it's proudly Maori, it's camp, bitchy and has a lot of soul. If you don't enjoy those first few minutes, you are in for a rough 70 minutes.

Yet at the show's first Auckland performance on Friday night, the crowd was anything but disappointed. It is rare to witness such a continuous and infectious joy radiating from a theatre audience. At times, it felt more like watching a concert than a play, with the crowd joining in and signing along.

It's not surprising, given that music is at the heart of Te Rehia Theatre production. The story follows the three busking brothers who make up Larger Than Life, Ngāruawāhia's third-best children's novelty act in the 70s. Many songs of the era are repurposed as part of this nostalgic homage, including works from the Topp Twins and the Finn Brothers.

The plot, centred on a road trip to Wellington so the brothers can perform with John Rowles, is a tad thin and made up mostly of encounters with famous Kiwis. However, any weaknesses in story are barely noticeable thanks to the fast paced comedy, musical interludes and infectious comedy from the trio of performers. Chris Rex Martin, who wrote the show, stars and gives a fine performance as E-Honda, but lets the huge personalities of Shadrack Simi and Brady Peeti hold centre stage as the loud and proud Tahi and Rua respectively. Their vocal power is outstanding and matched only by their limitless comedic talents.

While the emotional punch of the climax isn't earned, the preceding hour is an absolute delight, and thanks to the endless charisma of the talented leads, Larger Than Life more than lives up to its name.

What: Larger Than Life
Where: Herald Theatre
Reviewer: Ethan Sills

3 Jul, 2017 9:30am
2 minutes to read