Evocative and original cabaret-plus from Maori gay community
This article is from 2015.
Performed by six defiantly uncloseted Maori gay men and subtitled ‘A Place to Stand,’ this hard-to-categorise production from New Zealand’s Okareka Dance Company is genuinely original. Although placed in the Fringe’s cabaret section, the mix of song and dance routines, scripted and spoken word text and an emphasis on characterisation means the show would’ve been suitable almost anywhere except comedy. That’s not to say that the performance doesn’t evince a sense of humour, particularly of an unapologetically sexually explicit nature. But it also pretty much carries its weight as an unconventional theatrical drama.
The title is a reference to the Karangahape Road, an avenue in Auckland infamous since the early 1970s as a hang-out for misfits. The cast play an assortment of characters, from hookers and victims to a homeless person ambiguously sporting a horse’s head. It’s a landscape of creeping loneliness, quick violence and fleeting connections. From this central conceptual location the versatile and distinctly physical performers branch out into music and dance, notably featuring the quivering hands, glaring eyes and extended tongues of haka culture as well as highly pleasing vocals. Most amusingly, they also pretend to be preening birds in search of sexual fulfillment. The overall result is somewhat rough round the edges, but all the better for it.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 17), 6.40pm, £14–£15 (£13–£14).