No. 2 itself is, in Toa Fraser's multi-character play written for a solo performance by Madeleine Sami, the family headquarters for a clan of Fijian-Indian New Zealanders, in which the aged matriarch, waking at four o'clock one morning, has a conversation with her dead husband and decides that this will be the day on which to hold a family feast and name her successor. Sami plays Nana Maria, half a dozen grandchildren (the generation between is barred from the feast – "they're all useless"), the local minister and a visiting Fijian-British girl.
Characters are delineated with skilled economy, and transitions between them are made swiftly and smoothly. However, this is one of those plays which don't have any obvious purpose for existing except to showcase the skills of a performer. The family drama keeps things ticking over, and throws light on a kind of clannishness seldom seen in theatre here, but these are really secondary to Sami's feat onstage. The conclusion is not a surprise exactly, but is unexplained and seems rather threadbare; it may be the journey which is of interest rather than the destination, but the destination ought at least to be identifiable. The play and production are not defective in any palpable way, but there is a deficiency which prevents it from catching fire.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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