Fringe 2009, BATS Theatre
February 13-17 | Reviewed by Helen Sims

Poly-zygotic is a play about Samoan triplets. Two are the same, one is different – is it the boy contrasted with his two sisters? Or the short one contrasted with her two tall siblings? This question is never really resolved, but it emerges that all of them are outsiders – as a group and individually. Although the play bills itself as following the triplets’ attempt to find their ‘uniqueness’, it seems that they have been unique from birth – not only because they are triplets, but because they come from a ‘black sheep’ family that has been marked by tragedy. Although the triplets are the subjects of neighbourhood pity, they are far from feeling sorry for themselves.

Due to death and absent family members the triplets are largely left to their own devices. They play focuses on their preparations for the annual White Sunday performance. Although they are determined to win this year, their rival has recruited her famous cousin, Robbie Magasiva, to play Jesus. They want to come up with something fresh and original, but all their brainstorming leads to ideas which are highly derivative. Brother Tausaga (Asalemo Tofete) wants to write a hard-hitting drama, but his sisters Aso and Masina (Taofi Mose and Tupe Lualua) favour something lighter, to show off their beauty and singing prowess. I noticed from the programme that both women have experience in dance – I was surprised this wasn’t drawn on more in the show.

The structure of the play is fairly simple, with scenes oscillating between the triplets rehearsing for their performance and commentary from the local ‘aunties’ (played by the same three actors who quickly change into gaudy dresses). The observations of the aunties do serve a useful device of filling in the ‘back story’ of the triplets, although they are a little rambling at points. The scenes focusing on the triplets captures a family dynamic perfectly through their squabbling and teasing that shows an underlying bond. The play culminates with their White Sunday performance – but I won’t give away what they come up with in the end.

The play is fun and the audience enjoyed themselves immensely, but there is little depth to it. Its satire isn’t as sharp as Bro’ Town (for example), there is little character development, its insights aren’t complex and the cultural references are mostly to American television. Although entertaining I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated given the obvious talent of the performers and their familiarity with the subject matter – I wish they had challenged themselves a little more. For a future outing the show would need development – but the promise is there.