By Bruce Mason
19 JUL - 11 AUG 2012 — Drama
Auckland Theatre Company
2 Hours and 25 minutes with 20 minute interval
What is more honourable: the truth that hurts, or the lie that heals?
Everyone in the remote township of Omoana is proud of Matt Paku, who left the East Coast to train as a doctor and now has a successful practice in Auckland. Proudest of all is his old, blind father Werihe, who basks in this success via his son's letters which are read to him by Emma Gilhooly, the no-nonsense local postmistress. Every New Year's Eve, Matt comes home and the whole community celebrates. But things are different this year: Gilhooly has devastating news; news that she must keep from old Werihe at all costs if he's to hold onto his belief in his son.
Alongside The Pohutukawa Tree and The End Of The Golden Weather, Awatea completes Bruce Mason's classic trilogy of powerful New Zealand dramas: a thrilling, heart-wrenching, morally tough, fiercely realistic study of betrayal and disillusionment.
"Back in 1968, I was privileged to see famous New Zealand opera bass Inia Te Wiata and a young George Henare as father and son in the premiere of this beautiful, moving story set in a remote East Coast township in the 1960s. Now George, one of our most revered and honoured actors, will take on the role of blind koro Werihe. Te Kohe Tuhaka will play Matt, the prodigal son. A true feast of talent." - Colin
A magnificent showcase for the extraordinary talent of George Henare, who appeared in the original 1968 production. His performance as the blind patriarch at the centre of the drama is a tour-de-force. Complex, rapidly changing emotions are revealed through gestures and vocal inflections that are perfectly timed and compellingly real.
Henare's majestic performance gives the character a strong emotional stature... it is a performance of amazing power and poignancy.
Do not miss this rare opportunity to see a genuine Kiwi classic impeccably produced.
On a wet and windy evening in Auckland, Awatea certainly lit a shining torch to "hold back the darkness".
It's a rare sight to see two of New Zealand's most accomplished performers going toe-for-toe in one of New Zealand's best plays. There are moments during this last scene where they even seem to be breathing together. It's hard to put into words, but at the risk of simplifying, this is why people go to theatre.
Director Colin McColl completes Bruce Mason's 'classic trilogy of powerful New Zealand dramas' with what is quite simply the essence of a 'New Zealand' play, in that I simply cannot imagine a better world in which the story could be portrayed...
I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of Awatea last weekend held at Maidment Theatre. Auckland Theatre Company is staging the production to complete a trio of works by Bruce Mason, having produced The Pohutukawa Tree in 2009 and more recently The End of the Golden Weather in 2011. I've been lucky enough to see all three productions and I can say that for my money Awatea is the best of the bunch...