Natural Born Killas [by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth]
Often not knowing what to expect when you go to a show is key. In this case my total ignorance about Victor Rodger’s Club Paradiso worked a treat.
Shock, horror and amazement was what ensued from the minute I sat in my seat, having managed to refrain from reading the programme.
The show is described as follows: “It’s closing time at Club Paradiso, a run down bar on the outskirts of Flat Bush in Otara. Everyone’s ready to go home after a long night at the club…[but] all hell’s about to break loose.”
And break loose it certainly did. This local version of a ‘Tarrentino-esque’ production is honestly like nothing I’ve seen on stage before! That being said I don’t think I was in the minority. If the audience members to my left were anything to go by I think they were equally stunned by this harrowing experience.
The brutal, psychotic indifference of the perpetrators of a seemingly pointless crime is reminiscent of the Panmure RSA murders in 2001, making such a scenario that would otherwise be considered unlikely in New Zealand all the more real and horrifying.
Testament to Vela Manusaute’s astute direction was a comment from one of my mates after the show: “you basically felt captive in the space just like the people in the pub” – in short it was impossible not to feel part of the proceedings taking place in front of our eyes. Trauma and basic disbelief was the overall reaction as people left the theatre, mainly in silence with their jaws still wide open.
I know I for one couldn’t help asking myself, “How would I react, if faced with such adversity?” The answer: “I truly have no idea”! Clearly life and love is not as Hollywood shows depict, which this play displays all too clearly.
Club Paradiso raises more questions than answers, which is realistic when dealing with personalities and motivations that we have no connection with or empathy for. Its stark harsh reality is mirrored by the stark static lighting design, which inadvertently gives the actors on stage more prominence, leaving their naked talent exposed to the glaring reality of the situation with which they are confronted.
All the actors in this production more than pull their weight – no one misses a beat and everyone is absolutely on form throughout the 60-minute pressure cooker situation that we find ourselves thrust into. It was great seeing seasoned actors to those making their stage debut holding their own in equal measure. So kudos to Gabriel Halatoa (Dante), Robbie Magasiva (Q), Hans Masoe (Ave), Anapela Polataivao (Tahlz), Amanaki Prescott-Faletau (Bubbles), Levon Rawiri (Si) and Sandy Vukalokalo (Sasha), for an amazing experience.
Once again Rodger has outdone himself. This genius of a playwright has the audience on the edge of our seats from start to finish. As he rightly says in the programme “…it is theatre which refuses to allow you to sit back and simply watch; this is theatre that demands your attention and your reaction – be it good or bad.”
And whether you think Club Paradiso is good or bad, one thing’s for sure – it has definitely left a lasting impression on everyone at this world premiere. Something that I can almost guarantee was Rodger’s intention – which he has achieved in spades.
Go see it and judge for yourself – whether you like it or not is irrelevant. Either way I suspect your curiosity will get the better of you, taking you to The Basement before the week is out!
Club Paradiso is presented by FCC and plays at The Basement until 6 June. Details see The Basement