Q Theatre, Queens Street, Auckland
September 7th, 2017
Review by NIDHA KHAN
As an audience member, it’s a powerful and moving experience to hear the collection of words a person has carefully chosen to tell their story, express themselves, and allow strangers to have a glimpse into their personal life. Unlike other performances, there’s a vulnerability to it. When you see a person teary-eyed while they talk about their deep love for their child, or not being able to say their final goodbyes to a grandparent, you know it’s real. Real love, real sadness, real regrets, real human experiences.
It could, in another setting, be too overwhelming or even a little ‘scary’. But Alice Canton (the creator and director) is able to create a safe and warm environment in the theatre; perhaps it’s because of the show’s untraditional and informal nature. There are moments were none of the cast members face the audience and they, instead, all sit down and turn towards the large screens that play videos of different people sharing their stories. It almost resembles an everyday experience of a family huddled around the T.V., taking it all in together.
It creates a necessary comfort for a show that deals with heavy subject matters such as assimilation and internalised racism. With this, Canton and the cast are also able to cultivate more authentic connections with the audience.
The show also strikes a balance between comedy and tragedy. The sometimes-unexpected pieces of humour sprinkled throughout the show are refreshing and offers the audience a light relief from the heavier stories; also allowing some of the darker moments to be more easily absorbed by the audience. It’s a gentle and most likely unintentional reminder that, even when times are hard and everything seems unfair, people have the ability to lift their spirits by finding the humour in it all and start poking fun at themselves.
All in all, Other [chinese] is a refreshing piece of theatre that deserves recognition.
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