Tuai Sila 8 1/2 years later [by Sharu Delilkan]
It was a great feeling arriving at Q’s Loft to review Niu Sila which I could still remember vividly, having been at The Maidment premiere more than 8 ½ years ago.
The show then featured Dave Fane (Ioane Tafioka) and Damon Andrews (Peter Burton) under the direction of Conrad Newport. This time however there was a brand new cast at Q Loft – Fasitua Amosa and David Van Horn – under the direction of Ben Crowder.
For those who haven’t seen the show before, Niu Sila’s story spans three decades. Peter narrates the energetic and ultimately moving tale of their shared experiences; at school, at church, playing cricket, fishing for eels, going to the orchestra, and eventually dealing with the police and the justice system. Niu Sila shows the boys growing into young men and through various events and attitudes the story unfolds to reveal the end of their friendship.
The acting is flawless in Auckland Theatre Company’s restaging of this iconic Pacific Island theatrical comedy. Both Amosa and Van Horn provide energetic performances, feeding off each other throughout. Crowder’s direction shines through with the comic timing and fast paced delivery from the talented actors.
The show has all the elements of a great production including a very clever minimalist set (unable to credit as there was no programme) that required no set changes, due to concealed props that were revealed brilliantly.
However Dave Armstrong & Oscar Kightley’s comedy about this cross-cultural friendship unfortunately suffers in terms of relevance in relation to 2013 Niu Sila. That’s a shame because the premise is great and the script is executed fabulously.
Should the references and the dynamics between the two actors have been less stereotypical and more relevant to today’s New Zealand/Auckland, I would have bought it hook, line and sinker. But instead it seemed more like “Tuai Sila”, aka Old Zealand, rather than Niu Sila.
The reason for the breakup with the dynamic duo was not explained well enough for my liking. I felt that there should have been a bit more time spent on the adult relationship rather than the childhood one which seemed to dominate the piece. The reason for their breakup seemed a little flimsy and audiences would benefit from a little more insight into the ultimate demise. I believe this would have given the entire storyline a bit more credibility.
But as mentioned earlier it was an entertaining evening and the show is definitely worthy of restaging. Maybe a little more care to bringing it into this decade may have made the whole experience that little more believable.
Niu Sila is presented by Auckland Theatre Company and plays at Q Loft until 5 Oct. Details see Q.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe