Words Sarah Kidd /Photos Andi Crown
“This evocative production allows you to fully immerse yourself within this precious moment in time where a family – in every sense of the very word – come together”
In this third collaboration between Massive theatre company and acclaimed English actor, screenwriter and playwright Lennie James, Half of the Sky explores the varied facets of love; the play a poignant and thoughtful exploration of an emotion that features in the lives of each and every one us.
Certainly, love is an emotion that is often spoken and written about, prose and love letters scattered throughout history between infamous lovers. It is an emotion that many a song has been composed for, the lyrics either buoyant and hopeful as they speak of those first heady hours when someone new captures our heart, or sorrowful and bitter when the soul is betrayed.
Half of the Sky does touch on the relationships of two people who have chosen to share their lives with each other, but more importantly it explores the love between family members, specifically that between three sisters Nyree, Ruihi and Marika who have a unique bond due to the closeness in proximity of their birthdays which all fall within three days. Coming together for Ny’s birthday, as per her wishes, it is a celebration tinged with sadness as Ny faces her own mortality, the weekend long party her way of organising future plans for both herself and her daughter.
Running alongside the sisters’ narrative is also that of the relationship between Iosefa played with grace by Max Palamo and Fetu who Sefa steps in to raise after his mother leaves him in the care of his adoring but struggling grandmother. Now in his late teens, Fetu wishes to both thank his guardian while simultaneously setting him free from the bonds of responsibility. Communicating this through some serious lyricism laid down via rap by the comedic and rather talented Pat Tafa, it fits together with the story of the sisters like the tongue in the groove, the five characters sharing tales of the past while conveying their thoughts about the future as they face the inevitable with courage, conviction and a whole lot of laughter.
As Ny, Kura Forrester is a tour de force, her range far reaching as she juggles being a mother, a sister and a partner simultaneously, her own wants and needs that for so many years were placed on the backburner coming to the forefront. Decisions need to be made, not only for her daughter but for herself. Time is running out and there is life to be lived.
Ahwina-Rose Henare Ashby plays Ru, the middle sibling haunted by a childhood mistake that nearly cost her everything whilst struggling with both her own relationship and that of the one between herself and her mother. Ashby captures Ru’s spirit of a woman coping with past trauma’s but who more importantly has learned how to forgive; although the ability to do so is soon challenged by Ny’s decision on how she spends the last of her days, Ashby portraying Ru with a fierce yet maternal persona.
But it is often Grace Palmer as the youngest sibling Marika that lights up the stage with an exuberance that is infectious. Not only is she an accomplished actress for one so young, her embodiment of the cheekiness of Marika is spot on; subtle touches like the widening of her eyes as she watches her two older sisters argue, or her comedic timing bringing the character of Marika to life in full technicolour.
With a simple stage layout – lighting used to highlight one of the three areas of focus – and a cast of only five, this evocative production allows you to fully immerse yourself within this precious moment in time where a family – in every sense of the very word – come together.
Half of the Sky is an absolutely stunning piece of theatre examining what makes us human. And what makes us human is the ability to love and be loved in return.
On until Saturday Oct 26 2019 Show times:
Tuesday – Saturday: 7:00 PM
Sunday: 4:00 PM
Kura Forrester (The Wholehearted, The Adventures of Suzy Boon, 2019 Billy T Award Winner)
Grace Palmer (Shortland Street, Home & Away)
Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby (The Mooncake and the Kumara, Waru)
Max Palamo (The Sons of Charlie Paora, Super City II)
Pat Tafa (The Wholehearted, Westside)
Please note: Half of the Sky discusses death, grief, and abandonment. The performance also contains strong language which may offend.