Legends of the Pacific

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Legends of the Pacific
Published 06 Aug 2016

Contrary to popular opinion, there's a case to be made that the Fringe could use more high-school musicals. When executed with talent and enthusiasm—qualities Legends of the Pacific has in spades—they provide a welcome counterpoint to Edinburgh's common theatrical tropes and preoccupations. Staged by students from Honolulu's WHAT, Legends of the Pacific is as the title suggests: a good-humoured, family-friendly dramatisation of key myths from the Pacific Islands, inadvertantly beating Pixar's upcoming Moana to the punch. 

If Legends of the Pacific was merely five teenagers one-upping Disney, that would be impressive enough, but the production easily succeeds on its own merits. Three classic stories are enacted: a crow's chronic vanity tests the patience of Lawame the New Guinea forest god; while a Fijian woman's ignorance invites trouble when she decides to cook with seawater; and in Hawai'i, Maui the demigod attempts to extend the daytime by tying a rope around the sun.

All the performers have a ready talent for comedy that never falters, and the legends benefit from the wry self-awareness of their telling – the sun is brilliantly realised as an overly-peppy aerobics instructor, while an exhausted Maui demands to know why everyone plot-relevant lives on top of mountains.

The players acknowledge that these are but a small sampling of Pacific Island mythology, but time constraints allow for no more. If the show has any problem, it's that so ripe are these legends with comedic and dramatic possibility, the whole affair could be double the length.