Modern Maori Quartet made a spectacular return to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival with the Adelaide premiere of their breathtaking new show ‘Two Worlds’.
A beautiful combination of theatre and song, ‘Two Worlds’ weaves together the stories of four strangers (brought together under curious circumstances) to create a heartwarming tale which explores themes of culture and identity and their place in an ever-changing world. Told from differing perspectives using a combination of English and Maori, each man’s story shines a light on the changing face of Maori culture and each has a life affirming lesson to impart on the audience.
Maaka Pohatu stars as the heart of the group, the kindly Big Bro – a man who is both lovable and entertaining. Matu Ngaropo shines as the voice of reason and experience Koro while Francis Kora injects a hint of darkness into the show, delivering a powerful and at times confronting performance as Uncle. Matariki Whatarau rounds off the stellar cast, providing most of the comic relief with his energetic performance as the group’s youngest member Bub.
Together the men have a natural chemistry which allows them to have fun with their characters and they are clearly relishing their time on stage. Each boasting a distinctive singing voice the men entertained as solo performers; but it was when they were together on stage that they truly shone. Their powerful voices combined to create a melodic (and at times haunting) sound which was both beautiful and surprisingly emotional. Most of the show's songs are performed in Maori so unless you are fluent there is little chance of understanding the lyrics, but thanks to the quartet’s vibrant, emotive voices and expressive faces, I was able to hear, see and feel each emotion perfectly and I never once felt hindered by the language barrier.
As someone who has never been exposed to Maori culture (outside of movies and TV) I was enthralled by the powerful sounds of each song and captivated by the stories of Big Bro, Koro, Uncle and Bub. The quartet’s obvious passion for their culture made the show an absolute joy to watch and I loved how they often broke the fourth wall by addressing the audience during their performance. Emotional and thoroughly entertaining, ‘Two Worlds’ is a stunning show from start to finish.