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Thursday 10 November 2016

Review: PUZZY

Posted in: Performance
By Louisa Afoa - 13th February 2016

Before going to see PUZZY I already knew it was going to be an important contribution to theatre. How often do we see or hear narratives with a lesbian protagonist, let alone one that's a Pacific Islander? If you’re thinking basically never, you’re right. Written by Kiki feat. Victor Rodger the play follows Mele, a young Samoan Jehovah’s Witness trying to find her place in the world while also figuring out how to come out to her grandmother.

Photo: Priscilla Northe
In the beginning it was hard not to compare PUZZY to Victor Rodger’s Black Faggot as they have some similarities with the setup, and flow of character change. Although perhaps not as complex as Black Faggot where only two actors play an extremely diverse range of gay Pacific Island men and their stories, in PUZZY the character of Mele played by Frankie Adams takes centre stage supported by actresses Nora Aatai, Gaby Solomona and Malia ‘Ahovelo who play characters that change throughout the play.

It wasn't long till the comparisons stopped and I was totally immersed in every single scene.

I really like that Adams doesn't play more than one role because the consistency made it easy to emotionally invest in Mele’s journey. From choir practice, to hitting the club with her best friend Tina Turner, the audience becomes privy to all aspects of the characters life, a relatable life, with expectations from family and failed relationships that question your worth. Mele’s experience in the world might be queer but it’s also a human experience.

The relatability of the play doesn't deter from also showcasing the challenges Mele faces as lesbian, constantly being asked if she’s gay, having to come out to different people/communities in her life while also growing up believing that she’s basically going to hell because the bible said so.

There are some heart wrenching scenes in this play, but rather than crying through out the play you’re going to be laughing your ass off because it’s hilarious. You can't have a play called PUZZY without talking about vagina’s and sex and by using humour to showcase sex in all its forms whether bad, good or disappointing and following Mele as she looks for love I feel brought the audience and the characters closer together. The chemistry between the characters Mele and Tina I thought was really convincing and genuine, perhaps even more so than Mele’s final love interest.

The word diversity as been very popular lately with the lack of people of colour up for nominations at the Oscars. However as Viola Davis said in her Emmy acceptance speech in 2015 “you cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there”. With new writers come new perspectives and now a platform has been created by Hawaiian based writer Kiki that talks to a Pacific story that wasn't being represented and by doing so also creating roles for brown females. This doesn't mean that you have to be Pacific or part of the LGBTQ community to enjoy this play. Taking my Romanian boyfriend, a really good friend and his partner who had never seen a play in his life I was interested to see how they would receive it. Afterwards they told me how much they liked it but I already knew because they laughed harder than I did! Which really showcases how successful the writing was in its ability to be accessible to everyone without necessarily trying to.

PUZZY is a coming of age story that not only features coming out but cum on sheets. It’s funny and if you’re a cryer like me you’ll tear up at least once. It was a story that needed to told and I was glad that I was there to witness it.

Louisa Afoa - 13th February 2016

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