REVIEW: The Vultures (Tawata Productions)

Review by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth

[A Carrion Call For Honour]

Sibling relationships always provide great live theatre and playwright-director Mīria George’s insightful play The Vultures dredges up all the reasons why some relatives form factions and others follow their own path.

The premise of the show, picking over the bones of a recently deceased estate, is familiar to many and the issues that are revealed and touched upon are complex in every sense of the word.

‘The vulture’ metaphor to describe opportunistic money grabbing siblings is very effectively executed in this cheeky piece of original satire.

It is so refreshing to have Māori characters presented as universal characters and not just ‘Māori characters’.  Akin to a Shakespearean comedy/drama, The Vultures is about family allegiance, betrayal and even more betrayal, including a hilarious portrayal of family jealousies, greed, rivalry and love.

The five characters carry the story impeccably well, clad beautifully in costumes from a spectrum of eras and styles.  It seems the costume designer Sopheak Seng has the freest brief imaginable, truly allowing his costumes to soar.  The simplicity of Tony De Goldi’s set – slightly off kilter and unconventionally positioned being set back from the audience – perfectly enhances the storytelling.

For a tale of sibling rivalry there is an abundance of humour that offsets the serious themes beautifully, as dark humour always should.  Complimenting this is the wonderful extravagance that is the acting of Nicola Kawana, playing the dastardly villain, and Ana-Piki Tuari, as the sweet innocent party.  As Magazine Maganate Atawhai, Kawana is so watchable – we just couldn’t take our eyes off her every time she was on stage.

There are so many important things said in this show with such skill and grace you may scarcely notice them all.  But important these themes are, and this play is.

The Vultures plays at Q until 21 October. 

SEE ALSO: review by Genevieve McClean

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