Talofa Papa is a warm and welcoming celebration of Samoan language and culture.

The pretence of the show is that the audience are all grandchildren who have come to visit the titular Papa for a party. You should promptly comply with Papa’s wishesPapa has the capricious tendency to change his mind about which one of the audience members is his favourite grandchild, so you’ll want to stay in his good books.

Kasiano Mita is the writer and performer behind Talofa Papa, and the show won him an award for Most Outstanding Performer at the 2018 New Zealand Fringe Festival. He plays the stooped-over Papa with such physical commitment to character that once the show is over, he seems to grow by about a metre.

The first part of the show is incredibly funny, sometimes painfully so, because Mita thrives on the cluelessness of the audience whenever he asks them to help him with the festivities. But in the second half of Talofa Papa, the show deepens into a poignant reflection on old age and the way it is treated in westernised societies.

Save for a well-considered sombre finishing note, Talofa Papa is an infectiously fun piece of theatre. It is a play in the true sense of the word.

★★★★

Talofa Papa plays at The National Wine Centre until February 27. Tickets can be purchased here.