Edinburgh Fringe 2014
"Sinalei is a young Fa’afafine (a Samoan male who lives as female) who has just landed her first job in a West End show, People Are Intimidated By My Lipstick. She shares the understudying twilight with the gutsy Salma and the cucumber cool Debra. Three performers, three lives, one role. Kava Girls is a new play by Sani Muliaumaseali’i with original songs about dreams, hopes and the uneasy road to stardom. "
Kava Girls is "a new play by Sani Muliaumaseali’i with original songs about dreams, hopes and the uneasy road to stardom." Three performers, two female, one male, fill the very small basement space at Spotlites at the Merchants’ Hall. A keyboard and player sits at the side of the stage.
What unfolds during the next hour is a full on musical, with songs, scenes and even dance routines. it is a testament to the courage and commitment of the cast that they stage a musical in such a tiny space. And yet, no one bumps into each other even once, and, somehow, they make this space feel and looker ten times bigger than it is. They’ve claimed this space and ensured that the musical gets across as much as possible in such a small space. They bring ensemble numbers within an inch of the front row, and yet also make full use of the space’s intimacy solo numbers.
There’s sadness and hope in different measure in this story set in the shadows of offstage and almost-on-stage show business.
All three performers work well together and deliver a touching, occasionally heart-breaking story. The comedy is occasionally camp, and often located in the witty banter of hungry artists. The script and songs are well integrated and we have here the potential for a bigger scale musical. The narrative needs further refining and some of the choreography is a bit under-defined. This will develop I’m sure and it certainly needs a much larger space.
I throughly enjoyed this musical from three performers who delivered it with charisma, spirit and no small amount of musical and dramatic skill. Cheeky looks, intense sadness, and all-too-human wekaness gives this story texture, supported by songs that vary in style and some felt more crisp and original than others. I feel this musical is on its way to somewhere very fine. As it is, I’m happy to recommend it.