Exuberant, exciting and entertaining is the Kila Kokonut Krew’s – what a deliciously perverse name - production of The Factory where a mix of Glee, the magic of Pacific Island voices, the story of the migration of the Pacific Islanders who worked so hard, the intermingling of their lives and their dreams all based in a New Zealand factory, is told. The staff are Samoans on short term visas searching for the milk and honey promised in this land of the long white cloud.
The Factory is a welcome respite from the regurgitating of known successful musicals that companies choose for obvious reasons – making money! Most of us don’t relish yet another G&S, Les Mis or Chicago no matter how brilliant. And while The Factory has been around for a while its two nights on the Canberra Theatre stage was like a breath of fresh air.
The reality of the land of milk and honey was of course different to the dreams of those thousands of migrants but in the telling a little bit of love and lots of hope, camaraderie, diverse characters and a big bold chorus of talented singers bring this story to life and showcases some great talent. There’s soulful singing, big show numbers, light as a feather dancing and gymnastics from guys who look like rugby players, exciting choreography and what the Samoans call a fa’afafine, an accepted and respected member of Samoan society. In The factory ‘she’ is Misilei played beautifully by Paul Fagamalo and is the one who is integral to the family unit and keeps this little family of disparate Samoans together with wit and wisdom, and one drop dead Kelly green silky number.
Writer Vela Mausaute has brought his own family story to the stage and does credit to their hard work, the intolerable conditions and how their story, just like so many others, had been forgotten or just ignored with the passage of time. He gives them the dignity they deserve and us a musical to remember.