Powerful play about family strength, ability to change

Performance earns a standing ovation.

Performance earns a standing ovation.

A SCRIBE’S SCRIPT: Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) in The White Guitar. A near-sell out crowd at the War Memorial Theatre last night was enthralled. Picture supplied

WE ALL have interesting family stories, but when the story is from five-times-platinum award-winning rapper Scribe (aka Malo Luafutu), and stars the artist alongside his brother and father, you might be encouraged to listen.

Opening to a near-sell out crowd at the War Memorial Theatre last night, theatre biopic The White Guitar did not disappoint.

Nor did it go as planned, with stage smoke setting off the fire alarm, causing a full evacuation five minutes into the drama.

Perhaps already engrossed by Scribe’s early entrance, audience members took a moment to register the reality of the situation as the unfazed rapper incorporated an evacuation cue into his rhythmic monologue.

With a varied audience, including a host of high school students, any other theatre show would be mourning the loss of a good chunk of their audience’s attention at this point, but The White Guitar is no normal theatre show.

Brimming with the energy and enthusiasm of a live gig, the playful, teasing older-brother humour of Samoan culture, and the in-your-face emotion of theatre, it’s hard not to engage with the short biopic.

But don’t be fooled by the modern-theatre format. The powerful play has a strong and sober message about the strength of family and the ever-present ability to change.

Trans-generational family focus

With its trans-generational, family focus, TWG has a Once Were Warriors-feel as it highlights the cyclic nature of family violence.

It’s risky fronting your own biography, but sincere and convincing performances leave the audience humbled. Anyone can tell their story, but it takes good actors to tell it well.

When I was initially told that teenagers and former gangsters were not only attending the theatre piece but emotionally connecting with it, I was dubious.

After seeing the biopic in the flesh, I understand why the play has affected so many, receiving standing ovations after every show (including this one).

The Luafutus' honesty is palpable. It is clear these are real episodes from real lives.

Father Fa’amoana John Luafutu is particularly engaging in his uncontrived portrayal of himself, while brother Matthias (a trained actor) holds the stage with his strong and often comedic physical acting.

Though not an actor by trade, Scribe’s performance as he acts out a myriad of characters is by no means inferior.

Striking lighting and stage projections give away the experience of directors Jim Moriarty and Nina Nawalowalo, and add to the emotional performances.

Then there is the revelatory nature of the story itself.

For decades Samoans have crossed the Pacific to achieve the migrant dream, but rarely has the reality of their plight reached mainstream Kiwi consciousness.

Don’t be scared off by the heavy themes. Wry laughs and naughty giggles are never far from the surface in this approachable drama.

And then there is the music. Impressive instrumental guitar riffs from John and a number of feature performances from Scribe provide a stunning melodic backdrop to the drama.

The White Guitar is a unique, powerful and entertaining drama well worth the ticket price.

WE ALL have interesting family stories, but when the story is from five-times-platinum award-winning rapper Scribe (aka Malo Luafutu), and stars the artist alongside his brother and father, you might be encouraged to listen.

Opening to a near-sell out crowd at the War Memorial Theatre last night, theatre biopic The White Guitar did not disappoint.

Nor did it go as planned, with stage smoke setting off the fire alarm, causing a full evacuation five minutes into the drama.

Perhaps already engrossed by Scribe’s early entrance, audience members took a moment to register the reality of the situation as the unfazed rapper incorporated an evacuation cue into his rhythmic monologue.

With a varied audience, including a host of high school students, any other theatre show would be mourning the loss of a good chunk of their audience’s attention at this point, but The White Guitar is no normal theatre show.

Brimming with the energy and enthusiasm of a live gig, the playful, teasing older-brother humour of Samoan culture, and the in-your-face emotion of theatre, it’s hard not to engage with the short biopic.

But don’t be fooled by the modern-theatre format. The powerful play has a strong and sober message about the strength of family and the ever-present ability to change.

Trans-generational family focus

With its trans-generational, family focus, TWG has a Once Were Warriors-feel as it highlights the cyclic nature of family violence.

It’s risky fronting your own biography, but sincere and convincing performances leave the audience humbled. Anyone can tell their story, but it takes good actors to tell it well.

When I was initially told that teenagers and former gangsters were not only attending the theatre piece but emotionally connecting with it, I was dubious.

After seeing the biopic in the flesh, I understand why the play has affected so many, receiving standing ovations after every show (including this one).

The Luafutus' honesty is palpable. It is clear these are real episodes from real lives.

Father Fa’amoana John Luafutu is particularly engaging in his uncontrived portrayal of himself, while brother Matthias (a trained actor) holds the stage with his strong and often comedic physical acting.

Though not an actor by trade, Scribe’s performance as he acts out a myriad of characters is by no means inferior.

Striking lighting and stage projections give away the experience of directors Jim Moriarty and Nina Nawalowalo, and add to the emotional performances.

Then there is the revelatory nature of the story itself.

For decades Samoans have crossed the Pacific to achieve the migrant dream, but rarely has the reality of their plight reached mainstream Kiwi consciousness.

Don’t be scared off by the heavy themes. Wry laughs and naughty giggles are never far from the surface in this approachable drama.

And then there is the music. Impressive instrumental guitar riffs from John and a number of feature performances from Scribe provide a stunning melodic backdrop to the drama.

The White Guitar is a unique, powerful and entertaining drama well worth the ticket price.


■ The White Guitar is at the War Memorial Theatre again tonight (8pm).

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pushing Australia on sending 150 refugees from Manus Island to New Zealand?