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Masi - Sydney Festival

Masi
Jan 25th 2013 | Dave Drayton
You may have heard the expression 'Fiji time'. It suggests that in Fiji your watch is useless; the island and its inhabitants operate on their own time, or without time. Masi, coming to Sydney Festival from New Zealand/Fiji theatre company The Conch, tells the tale of the meeting of director Nina Nawalowalo's parents, a Fijian high chief and the daughter of Cambridge-educated public schoolmasters, over a game of chess at Wellington Chess Club.

Masi operates on Fiji time; a dreamlike collection of imagery and performance that examines love, longing and a charming clashing of cultures. Gareth Farr's compositions are beautiful and Peni Jeffrey Lala's vocal performance as the vakatara (chant soloist) brings a ghostly physicality to the enchanting music.

The grand, slow, deliberate gestures are powerful (the Kabu ni Vanua Dance Group brilliant) and allow for Paul Kieve's illusion design to mask the work in an even more enchanting fog, but much of the production's nuance and subtlety – so crucial to this wordless story – seem lost in the venue, or worse still, incidentally revealed depending on seating.

While visually stunning, Masi lacks a coherent enough narrative to retain the kind of attention needed to completely follow this dialogue-less 70-minute piece of physical theatre.

Sydney Festival, Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre

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