The action unfolds in a minimalist setting, a red armchair and yellow walls so freshly painted you can smell it. The seat is taken up by an old and haggard woman, Matriarch, Nanna Maria, who is making preparations for the big day ahead, the day she announces her successor. Enter her eldest grandson Erasmus, beer can in hand, tall and macho, his job is to round-up all the remaining grandchildren. Matronly Charlene is none too pleased to be woken at this ungodly hour, mindful of all the chores that lie ahead. Young pretty Hibiscus doesn't mind helping out a little, but is suspicious of English traveller Maria. Lady player Soul doesn't seem to mind, and little Moses thinks she dances 'really cool'.
Rather a large family for such a small theatre. But easily solvable if you make it a one-woman-show, and 22-year-old Madeleine Sami succeeds admirably in bringing the Fijian family to life in No.2. Sami won best actress in the New Zealand Theatre awards in 1999 for her performance in Toa Fraser's first play Bare.
The show, originally directed by Catherine Boniface, offers an affectionate and funny snapshot of New Zealand Fijian family life, and Sami deserves a medal for her feat- her accurate portrayal of such a rich kaleidoscope of characters is an absolute marvel.
Not a lot actually happens in No.2, writer Fraser uses the character of Nanna Maria, to indulge in an evening of drinking, quarrelling and the general drama of Fijian family life. Of Fijian origin himself, Fraser's work is becoming increasingly inspired by his Fijian-British heritage, he admits Nanna Maria is based on his own grandmother. 'Although this is our world' he says 'I can't help wondering if it's a world that might not exist for much longer'. Who becomes the successor of the honourable Nanna Maria? You'll have to go and see.
- by Peggy Nuttall