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Once Were Samoans: The Family Reunion

Phil Luke



No, it is not a Samoan variation of “Cook me some eggs.” It is however, a slight variation of “Sione’s Wedding” – three brothers who haven’t aged beyond 3, an innocent daughter trying to break free and a beautifully typical Samoan mother whose wrath is judged by whether she is wearing shoes or not. Enter the Tufifi family and welcome the Kila Kokonut Krew (Yes, KKK).
For a plot we have four brothers, two sisters and a mother. One of the sisters starts falling for the local the Maori golfer boy and the family does not approve. You can see where this is going…
Whilst the slapstick humour made for some of the play’s more spectacular moments, it did get old as the play progressed. Lil’ Dick Tufifi’s (Glen Jackson) squeal for voice really got hard to understand when you wanted to see past the comic whine and Sasa Tufifi (Natano Keni) was at times infuriating. However, it’s an easy play to watch, with everything being short and sharp. Nothing is complex in this play with everyone almost being stereotypical of which you can easily relate.
Taihape Morgan (Fasitua Amosa), the Maori, educated, physical, well-spoken, golf player with mana to burn, is something to aspire to. When he first enters and start playing golf, I promise you, you will cry in laughter. At war with the Samoans, he will constantly argue “It’s our land! Get off it!” Yeah, I do love how he can get away with such racism and crude remarks to the Tufifi family but still have the hots for their daughter. He even so sings a memorable line of “because island girls are harder to get with.”
There is a spectacle in this play that I will treasure seeing, and that spectacle is the finale where all the characters come together at a family feast and perform an utterly mind-blowing song and dance number. With the plot and characters varying the lyrics, not laughing here will officially prove that you have lost your inner child.
One of the things that left me rather unsatisfied at the end of the play was its shallowness. Many other critics will disagree due to the play talking about multiracial cultures and racism but I felt these issues were not covered in any depth. Thus, it was merely a reflection of an already familiar topic without trying to change anything or mention a possible method to fix the issue. Once were Samoans is hilarious, it is entertaining and it is easy to watch but sadly that is not enough. It is quite frankly not quite complete and that frustrates me.
Directed by Anapela Polataivao
Written by Vela Manusaute
July 24 – 28, BATS