If you already feel the glow of your holidays fading, consider a trip to Two Worlds, the latest offering from the award winning Modern Māori Quartet. In a swiftly moving 70 minutes, four delightful performers will take you on an exploration of indigenous New Zealand culture through storytelling, song and movement.
At opening, WWII veteran Koro (Matu Ngaropo), 1960s gadabout Uncle (Jamie Mccaskill), and 1980s lounge musician Big Bro (Maaka Pohatu) have been trapped in limbo for decades. The unseen Miss (Kura Forrester) introduces them to the newly arrived Bub (Matariki Whatarau), a small town boy. They must now must work together as a quartet to earn the right for each one of them to pass on. Only the truth can truly set them free. This set-up emphasizes the need for cooperation represented in the strong harmonies that bind this heartwarming work together.
Though pieces are performed in both English and Māori, all of the emotions are so genuinely expressed they are not only understandable but relatable. The culture these men share brings distinction to their back stories, shedding light on the struggles of an indigenous people whose culture has been marginalized and submerged. But their tales also encompass universal themes of seeking connection and acceptance.
Two Worlds developed from a production written by James Tito, Matariki Whatarau, Maaka Pohatu, and Francis Kora and originally presented in 2012. The current incarnation fits the cast as well as their snazzy black and red suits. The music is tuneful and transportive. Accompanying themselves on guitar and percussion, each voice is pure and well blended for the space by Matthew Eller + Square. Well produced sound effects successfully fill in for scenery. Movement choreographed by the troupe uniquely combines smile-inducing boy band steps with traditional Māori gestures creating something that is simultaneously fresh and familiar.
Modern Māori Quartet’s Two Worlds runs through January 18, 2020. This moving and joyful cabaret-style musical is currently playing at The Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street near 6th and Spring) as part of their annual Fringe Encore series. The curated festival presents the best of the Fringe from around the world, offering the artists opportunity for an extended run in New York City and perhaps beyond. Upcoming performances of Two Worlds are January 11 at 5:00 PM, January 12 at 5:00 PM, January 14 at 7:30 PM, January 16 at 9:00 PM, January 17 at 9:00 PM, and January 18 at 9:00 PM. It is running in repertory with two other productions with Kiwi flair and perspective. To view the entire lineup and purchase Individual tickets ($39) visit FringeEncoreSeries.com. Reduced-price ticket packages are also available.