In order to truly appreciate the originality and genius of The Moa Show, there are two things you need to understand.
First of all, the moa is New Zealand’s other flightless bird [ the first being the kiwi ]. Extinct as of about 600-ish years ago, it typically grew to 12 feet in height, and weighed more 500 pounds.
Second, and more importantly, this show, named in the moa’s honour, is a comic fairy tale for adults.
Like many adventures, it begins at the pub. Three oddball characters hoping for a drink and a packet of crisps, are instead magically transported to a mythical land thanks to the charms of a Maori busker.
To find their way home, they must seek the wisdom of the all-seeing Moa. Adding to the pressure, they’ll also need to escape the evil grips of racist spotted kiwi, and one rather frustrated thrush.
This absurd world is brought to life by just one actor – Jamie McCaskill. He’s also one of the show’s writers, and it’s clear to us he’s one seriously talented man.
Without props, scenery or even costume, he casually appears on stage and asks how the audience is doing. Moments later, his body language shifts and our highly entertaining journey begins …
Suddenly a little smoke, the odd lighting change, and McCaskill’s considerable talents bring this bonkers world to life.
As you’d expect from a fairy tale, it’s both surreal and ridiculous. It’s also packed full of laughs, as our narrator effortlessly morphs from one character to the next.
Each would be very much at home in sketch comedy, but here they have the common goal of returning to the pub – something we can all no doubt relate to.
McCaskill’s acting and comedy chops are especially apparent, when he plays the moa. Somehow growing in stature, his physical movement seems both appropriate to the legendary bird and at the same time hugely entertaining.
While a familiarity with New Zealand and its colloquial slang is indeed helpful, it’s not essential to appreciate this highly original piece of theatre. With so much to digest and dazzle the senses, you’re left almost breathless.
More about character and comedy than plot, our only quibble is that the resolution seemed to arrive almost a little too soon. Then again, maybe we just weren’t ready to return to the real world.
Bizarre, charming and hilarious, the Moa Show is truly the perfect Fringe experience.
Gilded Balloon Teviot
August 20 -27