Youth Ambassador Review: On the Upside Down of the World
Our youth ambassadors, Rachel and Liv, went along to On The
Upside Down of the World on Thursday night. Here are their
Beautiful,moving and expertly told, On the Upside Down
of the World is an inspirational story about one young
English woman's journey of discovery: discovery of a new way of
life and a new culture in the rugged wilderness of New Zealand, yet
it is also a journey of self-discovery.
The play tells the story of the Lady Mary Ann Martin (based on
her memoirs) as she moves- young, disabled and almost entirely
alone - halfway across the world to be with her husband, who she
hardly knows, in a strange new country full of strange new culture.
Despite initially clinging to the narrow colonial view that she
must teach the native 'savages' of New Zealand, the Maori people,
to be 'civilised', Mary quickly learns that in order to survive in
this new environment she must force herself to look at the world in
a different way. She decides to learn Te Reo and with this opens
herself up to a whole new way of life and discovers that she can
learn as much from Maori she lives with, if not more, than they
will learn from her. With determination and a willingness to
experience a new culture, Mary quickly begins to understand just
how arrogant and closed-minded the colonisation by Europeans can
be, and just how beautiful tikanga Maori is.
As a one woman show about colonial New Zealand, the premise
of On the Upside Down of the World, has the potential to
go very wrong- but the witty and poetical script coupled with
masterful storytelling by Laurel Devenie (as Mary Ann Martin)
makes this show a resounding success. Emotionally played; Devenie
conjures up vivid images of bustling trade markets, deep bush and
makeshift hospitals in moments,using the excellent script and set-
a geometric tangle of ladders- to boost her performance. Her
character grows from a naïve and frankly irritating teenager into a
wise and compassionate woman who is willing to open herself up to
try new experiences in a new world, with a deftness that pulls the
audience every step of the way.
On the Upside Down of the World is a play that
all New Zealanders should watch. Not only is it a wonderfully
engaging story - it is an important one. It reminds us of the
troubles our country has faced in the past and continues to face
today. It's a powerful story with a positive look toward what we
can change for the future.
On the Upside Down of the World is a moving, heart
warming and interesting piece that leaves you at the end of the
show with a mixture of emotions of both sadness and joy.
It is a captivating one-woman show directed by Colin McColl and
starring Laurel Devenie as the character Mary Ann Martin. It is
about a English woman who married New Zealand's first chief
justice. It is a heart warming story of a woman having the
opportunity to experience a whole new life and culture, and as I
quote from the programme "[she] dared to dream of all possible in
this brave new world."
Laurel Devenie is a stunning and captivating performer. She
draws the audience in right from the very beginning with her bold
actions, great humor and not to mention her beautiful costume that
simply put the icing on top of a great cake. She delivered an
impressive and compelling performance and we see a raw emotion from
her in the show that left me on the brink of tears.
As my experience of being a youth ambassador for the
Christchurch Arts Festival draws to a close, I could not imagine a
better way to end it than by seeing this beautiful piece. It
was a show that I will not forget.