Cast, Malia ‘Ahovelo, Spencer PapaLi’i, Talia-Rae Mavaega and Bella Robertson are all a joy to watch. It’s not easy to perform convincingly as a family, but with moments of frustration and mockery, they pull it off. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between PapaLi’i as Maleko, and Mavaega as Lifa. These performers have great chemistry together, and get the audience laughing alongside them.
We are also treated to the traditional dance and music of Tuvalu, Falete. An ensemble, lead by Nupaia Talake performs some beautiful numbers, which give us more insight both into the culture of Tuvalu, and the journeys of our main characters. The show closes with a poignant song which gives us a conclusion worthy of the rest of the show.
I struggle to say anything negative about Au Ko Tuvalu, but if I were to offer a piece of constructive criticism, props could have been used in a more believable way. There is a moment when Maleko and Lifa are folding laundry together, but as they fold each piece they throw it back into the basket, only to be refolded. This drew me out of the scene, as I saw them as two actors, needing something to do with their hands, rather than a real brother and sister, trying to finish the task as quickly as possible.
Au Ko Tuvalu is a beautiful, funny, meaningful show that should not be missed. It’s heartbreaking that this show is most likely going to become a reality for the people of Tuvalu, as their island suffers the effects of global warming which they did not create. I am thankful for the chance to see a show with such an important message filled with so much heart and laughter.
Au Ko Tuvalu is currently showing at BATS Theatre until Saturday 23th March. It is part of the Wellington NZ Fringe Arts Festival. To book tickets, visit the BATS Theatre website. To find out more about the Fringe Festival, visit their website.