Brilliant acting, Kiwi as

Fish and chip shops: Kiwi as, they're often owned and run by immigrants.

When student Jason gets a job in Mr Chan's shop he wastes little time, despite an express prohibition, in falling in love with smart, brave Rhea, his co-worker and Chan's daughter.

What happens next is affected by Rhea's parents - her Chinese father clinging to ambition while enduring incomprehension and racism; her mother, a New Zealander of European descent, succumbing to heartbreak and doughnuts.

When one of Jason's erstwhile friends turns up with some very nasty attitudes, Jason finds himself having to do some speedy and painful growing up.

The shop itself, represented in a clean and very recognisable set right down to the lettering on the menu board, designed by Matt Best and with excellent lighting by Stephen Kilroy, becomes more than just a workplace.

It's a cultural melting pot where a poi dance can be performed expertly with wire chip baskets.

It's also the scene of romantic dreams and wrecked aspirations, and a trap.

Hweiling Ow performs the parts of Rhea and Mr Chan, and Chris Parker portrays Jason, Silvia Chan and all of the play's 11 other characters.

This sounds astonishing, but, under Patrick Davies' expert direction, the actors' agility, charm and fine acting forestall any possible audience confusion.

Any one of the four brilliantly created, sensitively acted main characters is in him- or herself a reason to go and see the play.

At a time when New Zealanders pride themselves on fair-mindedness and yet rhetoric about "real New Zealanders" and "immigration" often barely conceals racism, Carl Nixon's socially aware, funny and deeply affecting play couldn't be more timely.

• Fortune Theatre - Two Fish 'n' a Scoop.


Add a Comment