There is an eerie, dream-like quality to ATC's finely crafted revival of When Sun & Moon Collide that situates the play within a tradition that might be called Kiwi Gothic.
As with the novels of Ronald Hugh Morrieson, the drama opens a window on the seedy underbelly of our rural heartland and exposes sinister forces festering beneath the tranquil surface of small town New Zealand.
The distinctive lyricism of playwright Briar Grace-Smith is brilliantly displayed in a tale that unfolds like a hallucination with a strange mix of richly poetic imagery, wicked humour and explosive violence.
The psychological drama is neatly contained by Daniel Williams' set, which lovingly recreates the intimate space of an old-fashioned tearoom that is hemmed in by a boldly abstract representation of Horowhenua's rippling earth.
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Director Rawiri Paratene's finely choreographed staging is precisely synchronised with Thomas Press' cinematic sound design and Jennifer Lal's atmospheric lighting.
At the heart of the drama is a tangled web of family relationships and fragmented childhood memories brought to life with compelling performances from a cast of four talented young actors.
As proprietor of a tearoom that has fallen out of tune with the times, Jack Buchanan offers a moving portrait of a stunted personality who dreams of an adventurous life while clinging to the fading security of his failing business. Kura Forrester brings an amusingly idiosyncratic quality to her portrayal of a rural police officer while Emily Campbell presents a haunting image of a troubled outsider struggling with an eating disorder.
Joe Dekkers-Reihana gives an electrifying performance as a drifter with a criminal record and offers insight into how the psychological damage of an unstable childhood merges with a Maori understanding of cosmic forces that are regulated by the phases of the moon.
What: When Sun & Moon Collide
Where & When: ASB Waterfront Theatre to July 6
Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton