Welcome to the Royal wake, where the booze is stashed under the kitchen sink and the appetisers will be out the microwave in a jiffy.
Maggie Royal has died, and her three kids return to their small rural hometown of Kihikihi to say goodbye. Like most families, the Royals have their share of dramas. But for Violet, Wolfe and Pats the struggle of growing up under the care of the town drunk has left them bruised and battered.
Today is the day it all comes to a head. Their scars are thinly veiled by bitter jokes and jovial swipes at each other, but before long, with a few drinks under the belt, tempers start to flare.
The show’s writer, Samuel Christopher takes to the stage as big brother Wolfe, who fled to a life in London in a haze of self-medication and therapeutic “fictional” writing. His performance was slow to start but reached an impressive crescendo during a pivotal confrontation with his youngest sister, Violet. It was a shame it happened only moments before he left stage.
Luci Hare performs with a whirlwind of over-enthusiastic positive energy as big sister Pats while Holly Shervey as “the mess” of a little sister Violet, found a strong emotional voice. Violet drags the three siblings into a conversation they have avoided their whole lives. With some input from the local TAB worker, a standout performance by Sylvia Rands, they discover there was more to their Mum than they ever knew.
The intimate setting of Q Theatre Vault is a great choice for the lounge set-up with beer bottles and junk food wrappers strewn across the floor. The audience are close enough to feel like a guest in the family home – awkward and imposing in the face of family issues, but curious enough to hang around for more.
Samuel Christopher shows he knows how to write dialogue and wit well. He holds no fear as he plunges headfirst into quips on drugs, alcohol, abuse and promiscuity. However, with so many serious issues covered in the short running time of 65 minutes it was hard to empathise with the characters. By the time we bid our final farewells to Maggie Royal, it also felt like time to say goodbye to Kihikihi.
A brave and witty script played out with energy and enthusiasm.
Reviewed by Lauren Owens