Meredith begins the show with an ominous “tide goes out, tide goes in” as the sound of water washing in and out is played. Once he begins, it’s clear that this show is indeed an ode to his son, almost seeming like a lecture of what my dad likes to call “do as I say and not as I do”. His transition from poetry to siva samoa (traditional Samoan dance) shifts the mood of the room, Meredith aiuli’s (exuberant often exaggerated dancing, and vocalizations that are usually performed around a solo dancer during a traditional Samoan dance) and the audience join in his celebrations with fa’aumu crying “chee hoo” from the stands. Throughout the show, he does a great job at shifting the tone like this, taking us through a rollercoaster of emotions and storytelling.
His exploration of the Samoan culture and beautifully articulate discovery of what it means to be a “plastic Samoan” comes through his stories of his nana, the legends of Samoa, the fanua, and 8 Waiwera Crescent. He highlights many familiar worlds for diasporic Samoans, from the plastic coated table, a nana's relationship with her kitchen, tona’i (Sunday lunch after church) at a house that hosts a lot more people than it should, and the promise of a visit that never happens. Using poetry, Meredith is able to bring this form to Samoans like myself in a way that is not usually accessible, a way that connects and recognises our world.
The lighting brings a whole lot of magic to this one man show. Peter Davidson’s design does an excellent job at complimenting the story telling and movement of this piece. With the help of director Amelia Reid-Meredith, it adds an alluring element to the show. From being used as disco lights, a TV screen, a car light (to name a few), the world seems so much more elaborate than the chair and lamp you see when you first enter. Meredith performs contemporary dance that is exalted by the lights and haze. At one point, the light drops towards the audience and Meredith creates incredible shapes, the shadows resembling puppets and Meredith the Puppeteer. One of these scenes includes a haunting image of Meredith being trapped under water where he is trying to pry his way to the surface.
There are times where the sound compliments the performance and at times it becomes the performance, an amazing feat by sound designer and composer Brandon Haru. Music and sound takes you through the journey, it evokes emotions, drops you right into the world, and gives you some funky beats to vibe out to.
Waiting is an evocative piece that takes you on a journey. As a Samoan who is not usually a big fan of poetry, I’m pleased to see a performance that uses stories from my own world making it more accessible and giving me a lot more appreciation for the form. Meredith with the help of Reid-Meredith does an amazing job at creating an elaborate world exploring self-discovery, with the use of sound and lighting they are able to captivate the audience and allow them to voyage through the vā of Meredith’s journey. Meredith closes the show referencing the end of his conversation with his son, reminding us all that this reflection was a lesson. Do as I say and not as I do, not because of mistakes, but so he never has to question his own validation and integrity. Not only is this show an ode to his son but an ode to diasporic Samoans, a message of liberation and authenticity.
The final night of Waiting is tonight so snag your tickets while you can!