Direction: Katie Wolfe (written by Emma Kinane)
Circa Theatre; Circa One (Sept 9 – Oct 7)
Anahera (‘Angel’) is a young Maori social worker – and her angel-like presence hangs over the production; she’s there on stage in many non-speaking moments – quite literally embodying the ‘take a stand’ theme within this play, an actual test of strength for the actor Neenah Dekkers-Reihana.
In a taut, electric script from Kinane, bouncing between scenes set ten years in the past and ten years in the future, we get the story of a family and family secrets through the eyes and ears of the parents, the children and the social worker sent to comfort them in what we think is the real time of crisis, in many ways it’s just the trigger – the start of the unfolding.
Jacqueline Nairn as Liz and Neill Rea as Peter are working parents with a modern place and their kids want for nothing. Well, that’s how it appears. Simon Leary (Harry) and Susie Berry (Imogen) will give us the clues and fill in the blanks that maybe not all was rosy for the children in this equation.
But all of that is turned on its head and matching the amazing performances the script and direction make this a must-see experience. It’s hard to talk too much about Anahera without ruining the flow and feel, without telegraphing the action and themes.
But it’s not merely a technical tour-de-force, it’s important – another highlight in a magical run from Circa this year, offering up great pieces that explore, equally, the personal and political stories that hint and hide at an unhappiness and inequality in contemporary New Zealand; that touch on the hidden hurt when mental health is not addressed, when media points to a particular narrative rather than correctly commenting on the actual data.
There’s been many profound plays at Circa Theatre this year – deep performances that resonate powerfully, strong writing, clever staging – and Anahera is right up there, one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen and heard and experienced. A must-see event, a world-class piece of theatre.