The Factory – Auckland Arts Festival

The Factory is New Zealand’s first ever Pacific musical which was devised by the Kila Kokonut Krew. This week it opened the Auckland Arts Festival at Q Theatre receiving rapturous applause and emotional praises.

This immigrant tale set in 1970’s New Zealand tells the story of  Losa and her father Kavana, played by Milly Grant-Koria and Aleni Tufuga, who work in the factory to support their family back home in Samoa. Their story has many classic twists and turns around family, love, racism and roots which are all surrounded by big high energy dance moves, a hefty sprinkle of humour and a fair share of 70’s funk. The original music is a triumph of work from Poulima Salima and Tama Waipara bringing both island sounds and 70’s pop to the stage.

Losa and Kavana go to work for Mr Wilkinson, the villain of the piece played by Ross Girven. He’s an unhappy money grabbing penny pincher whose  racism hits you right between the eyes, much to the disappointment of his son Edward, Edward Laurenso, who has more liberal ideas and feels for the workers. Soon a romance develops between Edward and Losa and they inevitably face Romeo and Juliet style dramas. Milly and Edward share some sweet and tender scenes and both have brilliant vocal range.

The first thing that hit me during the show was the sheer power and beauty of the voices. Opening to an emotional a cappella leaving scene for Losa and Kavana was a powerful and goosebump inducing start. Immediately though we are swept into the factory floor where the pace changes to the fun and animated musical full of colourful characters. Fabulous choreography from Amanaki Prescott Faletau complements these strong voices and agile performers!

Lindah Lepou is hilarious as the factory mother hen Missy while Taofia Pelesasa gave a strong performance as Mose, who battles with the authority of Mr Wilkinson for the workers rights. The 14 cast are on stage together for the majority of the performance which keeps this show fast paced and lively throughout. Talking of lively, being set in the 70’s allows for some great costumes from designer Seraphina Tausilia, especially in the party scene.

The factory set works well and looks great and as the story rarely deviates away for the factory floor it is only necessary for lighting changes rather than set changes.

This show is emotional, funny, tragic and heartwarming and the quality of the performers and slick executions of the production made this one not to miss at this years Auckland Arts Festival.

The Factory is a proud, loud and funny pacific musical that packs a punch big enough to have New Zealand foot tapping for years to come!

Catch it while you can at Q Theatre until 11 March as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.