Reviewed by Madeleine Grasset
The 3Up was advertised as three plays from three different writers all wrapped in to the neat package of a couple of hours. Talk about a bargain! Three plays for the price of one! The theme for the night was - 2012: The End of the World. I decided to go along and see just how three performances could tell a story about the end of the world without using a special effects meteor plummeting towards us, a 500 foot tsunami or half decomposed flesh-eating zombies walking the streets.
The first of three plays, “Kali Yuga”, written and directed by Chetan Patel looks at the end of the world from a Hindu perspective. Our characters, a happy go lucky, newly single man played by Lee Ah Yen Faatoia and a stick in the mud girl played by Rebecca Parr that end up in a destined to fail relationship. So far the story seemed somewhat standard and generic. That was until Parr reappeared sporting Pirate gear and Lee, a few moments later, in a ninja suit… well that I didn’t see coming. After some mundane dialogue about how and when they ended up here, our lovers unite as Pirate Queen and Ninja Lord. Any parallels with Romeo and Juliet? I think so. The first half of the performance was spent waiting for some unexpected twist that might invest me in the plot. The second half left me with furrowed eyebrows wondering what was going on. Overall I found myself rather underwhelmed and particularly perplexed. The acting was amateurish and over-exaggerated, leaving me feeling annoyed at the characters. The writing seemed like a look inside a 10-year-old’s imagination and the overall message was lost whilst I tried, and failed, to work out what was going on.
Performance two, “Goodbye my Feleni”, written by David Mamea, told the story of three pacific island soldiers in the 28th Maori Battalion under the command of a new sergeant. Mamea took a piece of important NZ history and found a way to engage the audience with interest and emotion. I was totally engrossed as the story unfolded before me. The plot was well balanced with humour and sentiment whilst each of the four characters bringing something different to the stage. To be honest, it reminded me a little of the Three Stooges. But the laughs were short lived as the story soon took a more serious note as it explored the origins behind the new sergeant and his links to the death of his corporal’s brother. Overall I found Mamea’s work to be well thought out and highly entertaining. Judging by the applause that filled the theatre, I wasn’t the only one.
My only criticism was the acting of Leki Jackson Bourke. His attempt to portray a recruit who is too keen and too enthusiastic was another case of too much of a good thing is just… annoying. The constant shouting was unrealistic and I was more worried that he might drop dead of an aneurism mid-scream.
The final performance, “Black and Gold” written and directed by Eric Smith was… well the thing is, I don’t know what it was. All I do know is there was some voiceover at the beginning of the performance talking about a meteor plummeting to the Earth. Enter Parr and Lee again. It seemed that Parr was a survivor trying to meet up with her partner and Lee, well again I can’t really help you here, I don’t know who or what he was. Angel? Ghost? Memory? No idea. So unfortunately my review of “Black and Gold” ends after a single paragraph. I was never connected with any of the characters, I didn’t even know who or what the characters were and I found myself rooting for the meteor and saying to myself, “Please hit Earth and engulf these actors in a fire storm and me along with them.”