White Cloud is on at Bats Theatre until Sat 22 September. It consists of around a dozen songs by Tim Finn, blended in with stories and observations from two actions. It was sort of like a narrated mini-concert.
It is all about NZ identity, and the stories and songs are ones you can relate to, and bring back memories of childhood. One of them summed up our lack of clear cultural identity amusingly with the line “If you don’t know what you are, you’re probably a Pakeha”. Australians, Americans, Brits, French, Germans etc all have such clear cultural identities. New Zealanders tend to almost define ourselves as whom we are not – we’re not British, we’re not Australian, we’re not American etc.
The two actors who narrated the performance were Dena Kennedy and Stephen Lovatt. Fans of Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby may recall Kennedy as the social studies and history teacher. Both Lovatt and Kennedy did a good job of weaving a narrative around the songs and relating it to the audience. They were engaging and interesting.
A five piece band performed the Finn music. The standout performer was Lisa Crawley. Crawley performed spectacularly well on the vocals, and was very agile on the keyboard. I’d happily pay just to see her perform alone. She enjoyed performing, and it showed.
The brass and percussion players were excellent also, and had a huge variety of instruments they utilized. The main male vocalist was more patchy. The first song saw a real contrast between him and Crawley which I found discordant. After that though, he improved and the remaining songs went well.
It was a simple and effective set, with six semi-transparent screens hanging down which old photos and videos were displayed on, as a subtle background to the performance. It’s directed by one of my favourite directors Simon Bennett – who co-founded Bats.
The performance started at 9 pm, and goes for around 70 minutes. If you’re a fan of good NZ music, you should enjoy the production.