REVIEW: The Māori Sidesteps (Courtroom Theatre)


Enjoying at The Courtroom Theatre, the Ōtautahi debut of The Māori Sidesteps is a recent evolution of the Māori showband that includes performers Erroll Anderson (Ngā Puhi), Cohen Holloway (Ngāti Toa Rangatira), Regan Taylor (Ngāti Kahungunu – Te Arawa), Jamie McCaskill (Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Rangi, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) and Jerome Leota. 

The manufacturing riffs on traditional songs from each Aotearoa and past; in between the performers energetically spoof the instantly recognisable schtick of actuality tv and different pop codecs. The Sidesteps clearly get pleasure from presenting caricaturistic portraits of people from all walks of life. All 5 performers deserve accolades for his or her energetic dedication to all that the work calls for of them; although Cohen Holloway deserves particular point out for his riotous John Campbell and unfastened Nana. 

The laughter and music is what carries the group via, however the present can be a noisy celebration of every part that makes Aotearoa the nation it’s. This celebration essentially contains reference to the nation’s violent colonial historical past and all that has resulted from it, asking each tangata whenua and tangata tiriti to query the previous and our place within the current. The celebration additionally contains foolish gags (the opera is a spotlight, as is the very foolish ‘ding-a-ling’ tune), an ode to rugby, and an intensive checklist of people who’ve mentioned or achieved issues price feeling hōhā about (Helen Clark makes the checklist alongside extra apparent candidates like David Seymour and Mike Hosking). 

It’s fascinating to ponder the way in which that the Sidesteps invite the viewers to unite with them in tune as there are some parallels between the construction of the viewers engagement and the dialogue of Te Tiriti within the efficiency itself. In some moments, the viewers and the performers work together with one another as key twin elements of scenes or songs. In a lot the identical method, the Sidesteps name on New Zealanders to “be a proud Māori! Be a proud Pākehā!” This echoes the modern name in Aotearoa for each tangata tiriti and tangata whenua to make progress towards decolonising the bicultural nation that we stay in, as twin inhabitants of a nation, collectively, while, after all, decolonising ourselves, one another, and our methods within the course of. (Additionally, land again). 

Probably the most spectacular dimension of the efficiency is the way in which that frank materials is made accessible to a very extensive viewers via little greater than dramaturgical ability. The staging is minimal – 5 microphones, a drum, some lights – not less than so far as the design is anxious, we’re nearer to the world of bar sing-along and stand-up comedy right here than theatre.

However one thing in regards to the construction of the present is primarily theatrical: the efficiency is extra about demonstrating its level than speaking about it – the viewers are requested to be taught kupu Māori after which motion their studying; the viewers are requested to scrub up their pronunciation after which motion it; the viewers are advised we’ll all should introduce ourselves with our pepeha, which will get fun – clearly not! – however nonetheless, I think, raises for a lot of people within the viewers the truth that they have no idea theirs. Demonstration, slightly than didacticism, wins the day. 

Go for the music, keep for the comedy, the kōrero.

The Māori Sidesteps performs Courtroom Theatre twenty second September to eight October, 2022.


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