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Theatre Review: The Sun and the Wind

As the lights come up on the first scene of The Sun and the Wind, Rangi (Tangaroa Emile), an ageing Māori man, sits quietly at a dining table. He is wearing a simple conical party hat but does not look to be in a festive mood. His wife Hūkerikeri (Julie Edwards) is preparing dinner. She dons a party hat herself and then sits at the table and hand feeds Rangi. It is a special night, one in which they are celebrating the birthday of their son Sonny. He is noticeably absent, but a place has been set for him at the table. 

A little while later a young couple Kate (Tuakoi Ohia) and Hihi (Joe Dekkers-Reihana) crash the party and they are there for a nefarious reason. Kate is pregnant, and the couple need money. 

What unfolds is a dark, yet at times funny, psychological drama where the twisted and grief stricken past of each character is revealed. It is a tale of abandonment, violence, and the consequences of jealousy. 

This is a very interesting play that draws one in to a very complex web of intrigue and hidden secrets. 

I was particularly fascinated by the opening scene which is quite long and has a very slow pace. On the surface, it is a charming scene where Hūkerikeri is taking care of Rangi in a tender and loving way. Yet there is a palpable tension between them and there are one or two moments where Hūkerikeri suddenly snaps and expresses anger and frustration. It may seem as though this is related to Rangi’s disassociation, but as it turns out, there is a much darker reason. 

Something in this couple’s past has led directly to the situation they find themselves in and it is clearly related to the fact that Sonny is not there to celebrate his birthday. 

When the young couple arrive, they find themselves thrown off course and carefully manipulated into this odd family dynamic by Hūkerikeri. Both she and Rangi treat Hihi as their long absent son and Rangi in particular shows Hihi an affection he never received as a child. Since Hihi has his own issues of abandonment, he is drawn to Rangi and in a curious way this creates more tension for Hūkerikeri.

There were times when I felt a little confused as the story played out but by the end of it, it was fairly obvious what had happened in the past, and why the play has such a dramatic ending. What happened to Sonny is never directly explained in a single moment rather we piece together his story, and that of his parents, through small scraps of dialogue throughout the play.  

What made this production special was the cast. The masterful interplay between Edwards and Emile is beautifully intimate and nuanced. I found myself transfixed by the action between them. Ohia and Dekkers-Reihana connected to one another and the older couple very well also, and Dekkers-Reihana’s tortured and confused portrayal of Hihi was soulful. 

The Sun and the Wind is a powerful story with enough mystery and plenty of dramatic moments that will, I imagine, sit in the memory of the audience for quite some time. 

THE SUN AND THE WIND

20-24 March 2024

Q Theatre, Auckland 

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