KIWI ICON FLIPS THE BIRD TO THE PATRIARCHY
Written by Taylor Mac
Directed by Sophie Roberts
Kiwi icon Rima Te Wiata sticks it to the patriarchy, gleefully taking an axe to the kitchen sink when the smash hit new play HIR opens at the Herald Theatre on August 2. A love letter to progressiveness, this deliciously sly and exquisitely intelligent comedy is a glorious critique of what playwright Taylor Mac calls “troglodyte fascist heteronormative” culture.
Isaac returns home from a three-year stint in Afghanistan to discover his suburban family engaged in a war of their own. His mother has liberated herself from patriarchal ideas like ‘cleaning’ and ‘cooking’, his sibling is transitioning and impatient to leave the world around hir, and in a neglected heap in the corner, their once dominating father is being force-fed oestrogen-laden smoothies.
Time Out New York has called genderqueer playwright and performance artist Taylor Mac “one of the most exciting theatre artists of our time”. Mac, who prefers the gender pronoun judy*, is best known for exuberant and outlandish drag performances, including the award-winning 24-hour long 24 Decade History of Popular Music, which became the must-see event of last year’s Melbourne Festival. judy’s canon of work questions gender norms, refreshingly poking fun at the extremes to which such discourse can be taken. With the destruction of old power structures and a newly-liberated mum hellbent on queering everything, HIR is alive with nuanced discussions about cultural polarisation.
Transitioning is used as a metaphor to motivate radical healing: building a new world out of the pieces of the old. We live in a world which is conservative and cold, increasingly hard-line. HIR upsets the apple cart, fighting against the nanny state politics and father-knows-best ideologies that we are continually confronted with. How do we care for and bury our dying ways of life?
This audacious skewering of the modern family opened in New York in 2015 in a critically-acclaimed, extended run which was placed on the Top 10 Theatre Lists of The New York Times, New York Magazine and Time Out New York. It’s since been picked up by the acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, and stormed London, Melbourne and Sydney.
Leading the company as the newly-liberated mum who sees a refusal to clean as an act of defiance is the much-loved Kiwi Rima Te Wiata. From a chain-smoking version of Helen Clark to carnivorous plant, from Janice the Christian in Aussie soap Sons and Daughters to Lady Macbeth, Rima has done it all. Most recently though, it’s her turn as the micro keyboard-wielding, birthday-chanting Aunty Bella in Taika Waititi’s record-breaker Hunt for the Wilderpeople that has had people stopping her in the street. Last year, she was also named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to film and television. The role of Paige seems tailor-made for her inimitable comic genius.
Rima’s set-to-detonate nuclear family is filled out by the celebrated and formidable Nathaniel Lees, in his first Auckland performance since 2003, Arlo Green (A Streetcar Named Desire, Boys) and Silo newcomer Adam Rohe
Award winning Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts is heralded for creating richly complex theatre, which plugs straight into the zeitgeist. With productions like The Book of Everything, The Events, Peter And The Wolf and Boys Will Be Boys, Sophie has continually championed new conversations which defeat old orders and ways of being.
Is HIR dysfunctional? You better believe it. Vital? Oh yes. Liberating? HIR is close to being a new cultural manifesto.
“Sensational - in all sense of the word … A remarkably, audacious, uproarious black comedy with a daring combination of realism and madcap absurdity.” - THE NEW YORK TIMES
HIR plays at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre
Tues to Wed at 7pm, Thurs to Sat at 8pm, Sun at 5pm
Book at ticketmaster.co.nz or 09 970 9700