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Thursday 10 November 2016


Review: F' You

Posted in: Performance
By Jay Bennie - 16th February 2016

F' You

Presented by Fine Fatale Prductions for the Auckland Pride Festival

Starring Te Keepa Aria, Sandy Vukalokalo, Amanaki Prescott-Faletau, Gabriel Halatoa and Valentino Maleko.

Basement Theatre, February 15 - 19.

Five young performers, drawing on their experiences of growing up fakaleiti, fa'afafine, fakafifine or takataapui, last night presented an 80-minude long feast of imagery, humanity, humour and heart-wrenching humanity.

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The miracle of this programme is that all the performers, few if any seen before on any central Auckland stage, are polished, inventive, assured and sharp as a tack - and impossible to ignore.

Tekeepa Aria bears the baggage of his own life on to the stage and proceeds to, sometimes tentatively, sometimes aggressively, probe the issues which have typified his experience of homosexuality so far. His mime skills are excellent with props as simple as a folded piece of paper and a lipstick assuming a life and significance out of all proportion to their otherwise mundane functionality.  Alternately transfixed and repelled by his issues he struggles to understand and to come to terms with the part they play in his life. In one word: Compelling.

As Professor, Sandy Vukalokalo is witty, sassy, penetratingly insightful and wonderfully entertaining as she tells the story of the Tongan ugly trans-duckling. And yet hovering over the snappy dialogue and sharp attitude is the constant shadow of difference, isolation and self-doubt. Vukalokalo makes the stage and the audience her own domain, striding and strutting, lecturing and questioning. In one word: Uplifting.

Amanaki Prescott-Faletau takes us into the schoolyard, intercutting characters and attitudes with rapid-fire energy, where bitchy arrogance is the self-imposed hard shell protecting the vulnerable and needy soul within. Caught up in a series of dates with a hunk which turn out to have been part of a wounding dare, longing for a man who will fulfill her need to be, and be treated with honesty and dignity as, a real woman, we gradually understand how fragile her life and self-respect are. In one word: Riveting.

Gabriel Halatoa is a phenomenon, verbally dancing over and around a traditional and simplistic society in which men are men and women and women and that's it. His characterisation of Auntie Vicky deserves a whole play of its own, and the disjointed interplay between father and son during the 'birds and trees' discussion will break and then liberate your heart. In one word: Nuclear!

Valentino Maleko's piece is more sombre and sophisticated with fewer dramatic fireworks. But there is a quiet and reassuring dignity in the way his central character tries to reconcile the irreconcilable: his sexuality and his Pastor father's brick wall of intolerance. In one word: Touching.

These five performances irresistibly draw us into their world of church on Sunday, schoolyard posturing, families which are prisons of the soul, and barely-understood yearnings, where there are few ready-made signposts along the route to glbti self-discovery.

For anyone thinking the lives of young Polynesian glbti people have nothing to teach you, get real! F'You is truly profound and gloriously entertaining, with insights galore for glbti people of all sexualities, ethnicities and life-experiences.

There is a remarkable depth of talent here and it's increasingly clear that what Polynesian players have long been to the All Blacks is exactly what young Polynesian performers are rapidly becoming to the our glbti theatrical entertainment scene. Bring it on!

- Jay Bennie



Jay Bennie - 16th February 2016

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