The Factory (Edinburgh Fringe)
This show, part of the NZ at Edinburgh season, is billed as a 'big-hearted musical with all the soul of the South Pacific'
This is the second big musical presentation by Assembly this festival, and the second dud, sharing with Brazouka a disastrously feeble libretto in the story of a father and daughter coming to Auckland, New Zealand, from Samoa in order to make a living in the garment factory.
Big dreams are expressed in thin songs that suggest the Samoan samba and the Polynesian polyphonies will not be gate-crashing the West End any time soon. Billed as a big-hearted musical with all the soul of the South Pacific we are left gawping at the cultural tragedy of the sunny Samoans counting the cost of believing that New Zealand was a land of milk and honey.
The factory owner is a one-dimensional baddie and of course his son falls in love with lovely Losa, the new arrival, and this helps complicate the industrial dispute going on. The ladies are sewing and pedalling on their treadles in mime while the bushy-haired menfolk square up to the managerial underling with the threatening physical presence of the Samoan rugby team.
In the middle of all this, for some reason, there's a domestic servant in drag - a tranny nanny - who comforts Losa and tries to mediate in the love affair. Big bad dad drops dead of a heart attack - he must have seen the rest of the script - which helps ease the show, after all the passport checks, into the immigration hall of the feel-good factory.
But as in Brazouka, playing in this same unkind arena earlier in the afternoon, all the joy that is unconfined is totally unearned, and the pacific overtures of the charming and ever-smiling cast are little more than a nice public relations gesture.
The Factory runs at Assembly Hall until 25 August part of the NZ at Edinburgh season
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