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Arts Festival Review: He Reo Aroha

Arts Festival Review: He Reo Aroha

Reviewed by Anna Sutherland

He Reo Aroha
Tawata Productions
Te Papa – Soundings Theatre – March 10 and 11
Pataka Museum, Porirua – March 12 and 13


He Reo Aroha is a wonderful blend of music, drama, and comedy. Performed with passion by Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill, the show tells the story of Kaia and Pascoe, lovers separated when Kaia leaves their small home town of Tî Kapa to pursue her singing career in New York.

There are many clever theatrical devices in this show. When Kaia addresses the audience at the beginning of the show, it seems slightly odd and disconcerting, but near the end we realise that we were being cast in the role of the audience at her last New York gig.

When Kaia talks to her sister, Maria, (played by McGaskill) on Skype, they both face the audience, and mime fiddling with the camera settings to raise the lights.

Kaia leaves New York after being visited by the ghost of Sister Mere, played by McGaskill. It transpires that Sister Mere was calling Kaia home to soothe a taniwha that was threatening the life of Sister Mere’s boy, Rangi, a fisherman. Only Kaia knows the waiata oriori that can calm the taniwha.

The whimsical character of Rangi is played with heart by Kopae. And McGaskill as Maria, Rangi’s lover, had the crowd roaring with laughter with his take on being feminine.

Throughout the show we see flashbacks of how Kaia and Pascoe got together. They perform a soulful duet, showing that their love was created through music. The many musical numbers throughout the evening were performed with strength, tenderness, and commitment by Kopae and McGaskill.

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The liberal use of te reo Maori, both in the dialogue and songs, added a further dimension to the show’s richness.

The two curtain calls were well deserved for this talented duo, and an inspired piece of musical theatre.

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Press releases: RESTAGE to Support New Zealand Performance, NZIAF 2010 Programme to the Wellington Region
Arts Festival website: He Reo Aroha
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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