Theatre Review: Tu
Written and directed by Hone Kouka
July 21, 2013
I know, the film festival offers treats galore. But it’s also the height of the theatre season and if there’s one single thing to spend your cultural pennies on this week, forget about all that stuff on screen and go see Tu. It’s terrific.
Wellington company Tawata Productions has brought its acclaimed show, based on the novel by Patricia Grace, to Q Theatre for just one week. Writer/director Hone Kouka uses a traverse stage, with the audience sitting either side, for his cast of 10 to present their structurally complex tale of a family battered by war: he’s got two time periods simultaneously in play, a whole lot of deeply and gloriously mashed up Maori and Pakeha performance styles, and a story that unfolds with beautiful subtlety. It’s thrilling.
There are some great individual performances (Tammy Davis and Kimo Houltham offer wrenchingly moving interpretations, old and young respectively, of the title character Tu, whose secret drives the story; and Aroha White catches the dilemma of a young woman who loves and loses with the most awfully poignant grace). But it is as an ensemble that they all really shine, whether it’s the men engaged in a poi dance, a family around the table or soldiers under fire. Throughout, Kouka uses suggestive stagecraft, disciplined graceful movement, a hint of this and a flash of that, taking Grace’s lovely literary story and remaking it as a profound theatrical experience.
Did I say? One week only!
Until July 27