Written by Rob Mokaraka and Paolo Rotondo
Directed by Leo Gene Peters
At BATS until 21st July
I know my job as a critic is to give a balanced review, but honestly, I am struggling to. Yes, indeed I have met my match.
Imagine an Italian giving out free coffee. Add two Mäori blokes strumming away on stage before a play begins. Mix it around in a setting of World War II in Italy when our Mäori battalions were stationed there. Put a dash of Italian, English and Mäori to spice things up a little. Add a sprinkle of hysterical laughter and voila! I present to you, Strange Resting Places.
All right, maybe your Strange Resting Places won’t be as delicious as Leo Gene Peter’s latest piece down at BATS. In truth, I reckon you should go and watch this production to fully absorb what Theatre can literally give you. Hey, an Italian gives out free coffee and wine, the acoustics are hugely charming and the performances are spellbinding. The characters even go so far to cook on stage, which offers this beautiful Italian cooking aroma.
The fluidity of this play is brilliant. To change scenes, the actors perform a minor costume change and present you with a different story. The acoustics also accompany you through the scene changes, as traditionally there would be a blackout. I loved how it could so easily and viscously change the mood from comic to tense even faster than your heart beats.
One thing you should notice in this production is that the lights never change, the actors never leave the stage and the speakers are not even on. Absolutely everything in this play is solely carried by the performers: Paolo Rotondo, Rob Mokaraka and Maaka Pohatu. Their characterisations are nothing short of perfect, especially their animal interpretations. As well as being chickens and pigs, their almost caricatured approach to acting Mäori soldiers, an Italian deserter, a German soldier, a young Italian beauty, priests and The Virgin Mary made the comedy a touch of hysteria. The script is brilliant enough, but boy oh boy do the actors make it shine.
The variety of narratives is also brilliant. The story between the Mäori soldier and the Italian deserter unravels like Shortland Street, while the story with the Italian beauty is told to us by a series of comical narrations. When the stories each come to conclusion, you will shed a tear and you will feel a little soft in your heart. But hey, what good comedy does not make you cry a little?
The sole reason why I find it so hard to give this play a balanced review is because I cannot find anything wrong with this play. This production is not worth all your cents that you spend at BATS for a ticket; it is worth so much more than that.