The show itself follows Dakota Pink, a 13 year old girl who lives in the white flats and isn’t afraid of anything (well, almost anything). She and her best friend Treacle treat this dilapidated block of apartments as their own playground, terrorising the neighbours and constantly looking for adventure. That is, until they find an adventure that’s bigger and scarier than anything they’ve previously encountered. Mashingaidze and Osborne are phenomenal. It can be very difficult to play children/teens and make it believable as an adult, but these two maintain steady energy the whole time and embody the ‘I know everything’ nature of 13 year olds perfectly. Within the white flats, there’s a colourful cast of characters played by Amelia Rose Reynolds, Lutz Hamm, and Logan Cole, although each of them take on so many roles I’d run out of words in this review trying to list them. I want to give a massive shoutout to these three, the range each of them has to be able to embody each character convincingly each time is a huge highlight. If you’re curious about how a man could play a silverfish, you'll have to go see for yourself.
Onto the design, first off: wow. As I mentioned before, the set is evocative of an abandoned supermarket car park in the early hours, but it transforms so many times that it’s hard to believe it’s all the same set. The practical effects are very clever, and seeing the mechanics of how the performers have to set these props up and coordinate with one another really adds to the haphazard nature of the white flats themselves. Lights are placed in almost every prop, giving them an almost magical quality. Sound design is another huge element. Whether it’s droney music used to indicate where they are, or a live band, you can tell that there’s immense thought and care behind it (I say live band but it’s all the performers again, what can’t they do??).
Dakota of the White Flats is the coming of age story I needed as a little scruffy girl, it made me want to call my best friend to come up with an elaborate adventure to go on when I see her next. It’s like if you combined Coraline and Stranger Things and set it in some council flats. My friends and I couldn’t stop talking about how it felt like we’d just watched a film onstage. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s scary, what more could you want?
I encourage theatre lovers and haters alike to see this show, it has something for everyone, and you’ll be aching to go on another late night adventure with your childhood best friend.
Dakota of the White Flats is on until Saturday 4th June in Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui space.