I, George Nepia

I, George Nepia is on at Circa for another six days until 16 September.

Now if you don’t know who is you’re probably not one of those watching the Rugby World Cup. Nepia played for NZ is both rugby union and league. He is most remembered for playing all 32 games on the 1924 of the UK, and the All Blacks winning all 32 games, leading to their nickname of “The Invincibles”.

They beat Ireland 6-0, Wales 19-0, England 17-11 and France 30-6. Nepia was aged only 19, and his auto-biography on which the play is based revealed his doubts on the boat over whether he could live up to such legends as the Brownlie brothers.

He did. Some called him the first global superstar of rugby. Some say he remains the best fullback in history. The South African Rugby Union made him a Vice-President for life in in Wales just before his death, he got a a standing ovation from 30,000 Welsh in Swansea.

The play was written by Hone Kouka and Jarod Rawiri played Nepia. He was an inspired choice, both with a certain physical resemblance, but also with his ability to capture the emotions of Nepia.

Rawiri plays both the older Nepia (in fact technically the dead Nepia) and the younger Nepia. He takes you through not just the rugby tour but the story of his life.

Director Jason Te Kare turned the script into a moving play. The story flowed nicely, and the play was almost too short at just 75 minutes.

This won’t be a play for everyone. It’s not a comedy or a thriller. If you have never heard of George Nepia, then it might not be something that works for you. But if you have heard of the invincible George Nepia, and want to see a good portrayal of the man behind the rugby player, then you’ve got six days left to do so.