Morphing through different movements and times, Sightings is a non-linear story centred around one night out. Five young actors deliver a number of twist and turns, essentially through the eyes of Nora (Akinehi Munroe) and Chilli (Ebony Andrew).
A product of a writing team comprising Miriama McDowell, Fiona Graham and Denyce Su’a, this new script is a reflection of its various members’ personal lenses. And in true Massive Company style they interweave this interpretation with the cast’s own stories. While it’s great to see them bringing together emerging and established writers, it appears that the some of the non-linear’ structural choices don’t always pay off. In fact, the different tangents that the storylines take ultimately result in confusion instead of conclusions.
However, the writers and directors (Kura Forrester and Sam Scott) are to be commended for tackling and managing to pack in numerous big themes during this hour-long production. These include spiked drinks, whales with a twist, mother-daughter bonds, broken homes and dysfunctional relationships.
While Nora’s and Chilli’s characters are beautifully crafted, the characters of Riki (Celeste De-Freitas) and Nora’s kuia (Melanie Thachankary) feel slightly under baked, needing added depth to make us invest in their journeys.
Once again the wonderful Massive hallmark allows us to witness new/emerging talent on stage. Standouts are Akinehi Munroe (Nora) and Georgia Menhennet (Mo). Munroe is very watchable and engaging while having the X-factor in her movement. Likewise, Menhennet’s initial depiction of Chilli’s mum Mo, when the show opens, is particularly believable and captivating. Her re-tellling of the conversation between Chilli’s aunty and the ‘pet leopard’ is equally mesmerising. Celeste De-Freitas (Riki) also executes some great comic moments later in the piece. Her earnestness recounting various stories is truly convincing.
Jane Hakaraia’s lighting design complements and enhances Micheal McCabe’s intelligent effective set, giving it a 3D textured look. Likewise Deb Frame’s sound design is incredibly compelling and the repeated motif of the leopard provides the actors an added dimension through that interaction. While the fauna on the floor is also a favourite, unfortunately the actors tend to over use it to express their sentiments, making it a tad repetitive at times. In this case a ‘less is more’ approach in utilising the set could prove more powerful.
Sightings is a commendable first outing that could benefit from a bit more tweaking to clarify and enrich the current storylines. The good news is that it can only get better.
Sightings is presented by Massive Company and plays Q Loft until 28 July.