Dunstan Playhouse, Thu Jun 12
As the first South Pacific Islander musical ever created, The Factory is a future milestone in the history of performance art in this region. After experiencing the show firsthand, audiences can be assured that this is a show worthy of its landmark status.
Highlighting the plight of Pacific Islanders lured as migrant workers to Auckland during the 1970s, The Factory exposes the realities behind the seemingly utopian ‘milk and honey’ dream experienced by those in search of a better life. The musical begins with a flow of Samoan voices as the actors enter the stage in a heartfelt sequence that farewells a young girl, Losa and her father as they leave their families and culture behind in Samoa to journey to Auckland for work.
Arriving at The Factory, the couple become cogs in the machine, a process and new way of life that immediately begins to strip away their connection to culture and family. The wicked factory owner Mr Wilkinson is a bit of a caricature, although clearly representative of the prejudiced culture inherent in those with power over others. The love story between his son Edward and Losa is an old one but does serve as a plot device to spotlight Samoan culture and the conflict between duty and following your heart.
The music score is a lively blend of ‘70s funky rock with a clear Islander tone – many of the amazing dance sequences including the use of traditional instruments – again a means of keeping Islander culture at the forefront of the production. The cast were sensational in their roles; their voices without exception were a stunning mix of harmonies that perfectly lifted an already moving musical to the next level.
The staging was simple yet wildly effective – a large scaffold and couple of pillars of brickwork symbolising the Factory – a place that is essentially cold, stark and unforgiving. A three-piece band to the side of the stage performs the music that carries some wonderfully choreographed scenes that transport the characters from delight to despair and back again. Whilst this work is important in creating a record of NZ’s migrant history it also a shiny, fun celebration of culture, music and dance that deserves to be seen by audiences far and wide.
by Rosie van Heerde
The Factory continues at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Sat Jun 14.