Sunset Road

I enjoyed the performance of Sunset Road at Circa on Saturday night.

The play is set in Rotorua, about a Cook Island family who moved there 20 years ago. Dad (Rob Ringiao Lloyd) is the foreman at the local mill, and Mum (Tina Cook) works in a local hotel. Cook especially gave an excellent performance as the caring worried wife trying to help her husband and children through what eventuates.

The other two cast members are the twins Luka (Nathan Mudge) and Lucia (Aroha White). Luke has almost ridiculous Grease type hair, and rides a motorcycle to complement it. Some of his best scenes are on the motorcycle. Mudge also performed well, because I found myself wanting to whack his character for being such a whining selfish prat at times. When you actually start to react emotionally to the character, the actor knows they are doing their job well. Luka also has the nickname Captain Cook Islands, and produly has their flag on the back of his jacket.

White’s Lucia is the balance to her temptous brother. She is the beautiful calming influence. In fact she is competing the next day in Miss Geyserland, and hopes to finally win the crown that could propel her forward.  Her and Luka plan to travel away together, rather than go to Law School – which their father has been saving money towards for many years.

The interactions between the twins is very tactile. I actually started to worry if there would be an unwholesome revelation about their actual relationship. There are some startling revelations, but not of the kind I was thinking. These come out in an explosive scene that tears the family apart.

The play, written and directed by Miria George, is a journey back to 1970s New Zealand. You have the Police, the dawn raids, the Highway 61 gang, the culturally influential beauty contests of the era and a more God faring population. A simple set means we focus on the characters and their interactions.

It was overall an enjoyable play, but not one that gripped me to the same degree as some others. It took a while to set the scene at the beginning.  Also I can’t give too much away, but found the ending a bit anti-climatic. But this doesn’t detract from an enjoyable 100 minute performance where you get engaged with the characters, and wanting to know how it all resolves.

John Smythe at Theatreview has also reviewed the play calling it an “insightful, delightful and powerful drama”.


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