Raising The Titanics – Smackbang Theatre Company

Auckland’s new Q Theatre has flung wide its doors, and at the opening night of the first show it felt worth the fifteen year wait. The facility itself is a magnificent addition to the city, and Raising The Titanics was the ultimate debut play. The stars were clearly in alignment as the play, written by Kiwi Albert Belz and about heartland New Zealanders, coincided neatly with both the World Cup kick-off and the publicity surrounding the 20-year anniversary of Billy T James’ death.

A Kiwi show through and through, Raising The Titanics is what many New Zealand works are not – light-hearted, funny, and a warm and easy approach to Maori/Pakeha relationships. The story revolves around a family, and around a band – ‘The Titanics’ – a fictitious 1960s showband with some catchy songs and dark secrets in their repertoire. Directed with considerable panache by the inimitable Raymond Hawthorne, the cast juggled acting, singing, playing instruments and moving back and forwards forty years in time with ease. The elegant Roimata Fox and smooth-as-butter Jamie McCaskill transitioned between the ages of 25 and 65 with particular grace, Lana Garland lived up to her last name with some show-shopping performances, and Tama Waipara deftly captured all the nuances between slapstick comedy and genuine poignancy. Wesley Dowdell also delivered a heart-melting performance as a man with a dream, a desire to do the right thing, and a kiwi accent so strong it could win an arm wrestle with Fred Dagg.

This show has Elvis impersonations, catchy songs, a good story and a big heart. Despite one or two minor historical inaccuracies, the feeling that the costumes could have been more exciting, and an ending that was powerful but rather inevitable, the only thing really missing from this show was another big rousing show tune at the curtain call. A true Kiwi classic.

Kathryn Van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.com

Start date:  Wednesday Sep 7 2011

End date: Saturday Sep 17 2011

Show times: Tue – Sat: 8pm, Sun: 4pm,

        Mon: No show

        Running time: 2 hours 10 mins (inc interval)

Venue: Rangatira

Ticket price: $25 – $39.50