Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Two Worlds – Modern Maori Quartet – 4.5*

As we eagerly await the show, the lights go up to reveal an invisible quartet, which when made visible, is comprised of merely three performers. Finding themselves in a ‘trilemma’ they invite a latecomer from the audience to join them on stage to complete the foursome. Fortunately he happens to be both talented and appropriately dressed (tuxedo-clad) for the occasion. They break the news to him that that they are no longer in the world of the living. They are in a waiting area which they cannot yet leave until, as an ethereal female voice directs them from ‘above’, they put on a spectacular performance together as a quartet.

What ensues is a delightful, funny and heart-warming atmospheric theatrical performance comprised of storytelling, music, and song and dance. MMQ croon and growl their way through ballads, rock and roll, blues, Hakas and traditional Maori songs. These four suave but cheeky lads : Uncle, Bub, Big Bro and Koro gently introduce us to Maori culture, language and history. Subtly political and full of genuineness and integrity, they reveal their distinct personalities and life stories. They come to realise that they cannot leave until they ‘let the truth set them free’ and release their ‘demons’ : their feelings of failure around love, ambition, disconnection from their roots and culture. Basically the things that are holding them back are the things they have not managed to resolve during their lifetimes.

With a twist in the tale and a charming act of inclusion at the end, this is a wonderful performance full of heart, humanity and generosity of spirit. Highly recommended.

The Modern Maori Quartet :James Tito, Matariki Whatarau, Maaka Pohatu and Francis Kora present a modern take on Maori showbands.
They appeared at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in both 2018 and 2019. Hopefully they will return again in 2020.


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