Fast, fanciful tale with a grim side

Karearea (falcon) in the 'Land of the Long Long Drive'. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Karearea (falcon) in the 'Land of the Long Long Drive'. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Land of the Long Long Drive, Clarkson Studio, Regent Theatre, Sunday, April 28.

The Clarkson Studio in the Regent Theatre was filled with whanau and initially overawed mokopuna to watch the tale of the iconic New Zealand road trip, titled Land of the Long Long Drive.

It is a fast and often fanciful ride through challenges generated by firstly the dodgy VW Kombi and secondly by the unlikely and quarrelsome quartette of players.

A slice of morality in the pavlova of pantomime paradise.

The road trip weaves its way over several adversities which in true pantomime tradition serve to pull the travellers together.

The moral is that humans have in many life-changing ways interfered with our heroes’ turangawaewae.

Karearea is phobic about power-lines, Tuna’s swamp has been drained and Weta is feared.

So they accept the invitation delivered by mail snail to Gary Glowworm’s rave in the cave, where he and Weta will shed their skins and reveal their true colours.

If the real dramatic thrust of the tale is grim, the presentation by members of the Circa Theatre, assisted by the Capital E National Theatre for Children, and delightful costumes, was thoroughly engaging.

Writers Catriona Tipene and Ryan Cundy have conjured a new slant on both a national rite of passage, exemplified by such roadshows as Blerta among others and on local respect for native species.

While the message may have floated over the heads of the younger audience, gaining their ability to identify with the characters’ dilemma will be an excellent formative experience.

Award-winning songwriter Benny Tipene has produced an eclectic mix of catchy tunes; new waiata for school choirs.

The players, sadly uncredited, deftly maintained agility and spirit through song and dance and well-rehearsed use of the stage.

They galloped their way into their audiences’ hearts and cellphones, winning smiles from young and old.