Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: March 2008 (Page 2 of 3)

Shit on meganshead AND feed me to the sharks!

I don’t know whether to be glad or sad, I tell ya. I haven’t had this much flak since I wrote my first ever review of a play here on my blog meganshead, over a year ago. I refer to the hoo haa that my review of Othello has generated.

The good news is that people are reading it, I suppose. That’s obviously the whole idea. And the by-product of that is that people are going to go to the theatre, in spite of or because of my recommendations or criticism. I wish I believed that the students were as committed in action as they were in words though. I never see students at the theatre unless it is one of their own productions. Student discounts that are offered are not taken advantage of and even special comps go unused when it comes to student attendance. Anyway, that’s a whole other can of worms.

I think it is only fair to remind my readership, both old and Othello new, that this blog is independent, unaffiliated and unsolicited. I go out there, see theatre and write about it. It is not my job, nor am I paid for it. I only get comps if I am invited, and I generally buy all my own tickets. I try and see as much as I can as often as I can. and then I am as honest as I can be in my response to it.

Of course I am biased. I work in the theatre and write about my own experiences. I am totally loyal to the productions I am involved in, and subject to the same joys and disappointments meted out by the critics. Most people have been big enough to receive even my harshest criticism with an understanding of where it comes from and I have had long chats with people about their productions and even been pulled in to help on occasions. That’s the game. That’s how it works.

Now, I have been made to feel like the Wicked Witch of the West about my review of Othello and I keep rereading it to check my “illiteracy, prostitution” and all the other horrible things I am accused of. I say amazing things about Vaneshran Arumugam and Ariella Caira. I say great things about the director, Geoffrey Hyland. I write about the production in a careful and deliberate way, complete with a sensitivity that the cast are students. I give reasons for my opinion why I think Iago was unsuccessful. Which is one small part of the whole review.

I really hope that I don’t have to try and justify myself here again. I really hope that the hoo ha will attract people to the theatre in droves. I really hope that the students will arm themselves with the viewing of many many productions, both good and bad, to become active members of a difficult, amazing, magical, cruel, crazy, unfair, life altering world of live theatre.

Most hectic

I get a lot of stuff sent to me via email and facebook. But this is the most hectic thing I have received. I am blown away. I am going to copy the whole thing here. No bullshitting. Just straight up hectic.

Please be cautious!!

The latest hijack hotspots in Johannesburg and Pretoria as supplied by eBlockwatch and SAPS.


1.        The Atterbury Road offramp from the N1 in Menlyn.

2.        Lynnwood Road offramp on the N1.

3.        John Vorster Drive offramp from the N1 in Lyttelton.

4.        Jean Avenue offramp from the R28 in Centurion.

5.        Rigel Avenue offramp from the N1 in Erasmuskloof.

6.        Corner of University Road and Lynnwood Road in Hatfield.

7.        The traffic lights along Walker Street in Sunnyside.

8.        The Lynnwood Road and Hans Strijdom Drive intersection in Garsfontein.

9.        The traffic lights along Nelson Mandela Drive in Sunnyside.

10.      The traffic lights along Simon Vermooten Road in Silverton.

11.      Along Beyers Naude Drive and Paul Kruger Street in Wonderboompoort.

12.      Nelson Mandela Drive, Duncan Street and Walker Street in Sunnyside.

13.      The R55 in Erasmia. Eric

14.      Burnett Street, Hilda Street and the Atterbury Road offramp in the Brooklyn area.

15.      Delfi Avenue and Garsfontein Road in Garsfontein


1.        The William Nicol Drive offramp from the N1 from the Sandton side.

2.        The corner of Old Pretoria Road and 1st Avenue in Alexandra.

3.        New Road offramp in Midrand.

4.        Riviera Road offramp near Killarney Mall.

5.        Intersection of Christiaan de Wet Road and Wilgerood Road in Roodepoort.

6.        All the traffic lights along Louis Botha Avenue between Alexandra and Hillbrow.

7.        Parkwood and Saxonwold (Rosebank precinct).

8.        Upper Houghton and Killarney (Hillbrow precinct).

9.        Between 10th and 11th avenues and 4th and 7th avenues in Parkhurst (Parkview precinct).

10.      Glenhazel, Lombardy East and Sandringham (Sandringham precinct).

11.      Orange Grove and Highlands North (Norwood precinct).

12.      Yeoville, Bellevue and Bellevue East (Yeoville precinct).

13.      Wynberg, Bramley, Marlboro and Kew (Bramley precinct).

Fleur du Cap big whoo hah

So, last night was the Fleur du Cap awards and I suppose, this being the second one I have ever attended in my life, I am in a great position to…compare it to last year! And in comparison, it wasn’t too fantastic. It was held at The Baxter this year. So, it was very glamorous entering, and that’s about it. The award ceremony started about an hour late. The inside skinner is that the lighting guy lost all his cues and had to re-programme the whole show. Argus traffic and Eskom in general were blamed by Alan Committie, the emcee and winner of the Best Actor award.

Alan Committie emceeing and Evita Bezuidenhout handing out the prizes (in a different outfit every time. I couldn’t help wonder how many dressers were back stage to quick change.) was the funnest part of the ceremony. My biggest disappointment was that A Circus Side Show, nominated in three different categories, didn’t win a thing. My hugest disappointment was for my friend, colleague and hero Graham Weir, who was nominated twice in a category and didn’t win. He has been an also-ran 8 times now. Eish.

So, I know I am biased, partisan, whatever, but I need to know. If all the judges don’t see a show, how can that show win an award? And, now that I’ve said it I’m going to let it go. Gone.

The ‘good idea at the time award’ of The People’s Choice backfired horribly with internettie voters voting a show in with nobody at the awards to receive it. Hau!

Amanda Tiffin and her band who played in the foyer were the best part of the ‘party’ which was gloomy and dispersed and chaff chaff Oscars, with the winners in the "media lounge" which was the Baxter Bar for Hamlet’s sake and the non winners getting drunk and smoking outside. The food was miserable too, with salads and stir fry being handed out, and starving actors crowding around tables for bread and dip. Sies.

We left before the thing got messy. The great part of the party is the wine and bubbly from sponsor Distell.

I had twisted Big Friendly’s arm to come as my date this year. And I was sorry it wasn’t totally fabulous.

I am sure the winners will be all over the press and there are no real surprises there (except for Peter Hayes maybe, as best performer in a One Hander. Well done, Pete.) I did overhear the management boss of one of the theatres (the one we were at, nudge nudge wink wink) tell somebody "we won!" And I was left thinking, "Yup. I suppose you did!"

O t’ hell oh

Ok, it wasn’t as bad as hell, but I thought that was a clever title. I couldn’t persuade Big Friendly (or force or beg him) to join me last night for the opening of UCT Drama department’s production of Othello at The Baxter. I met G there and he was my date. So, there was a who’s who and a huge gathering which was rather impressive, although I struggled to find a programme and the woman handing out tickets was so rude when I asked her for one. I digress.

The blue slatted set and its levels are striking as you walk in to the theatre. Director Geoffrey Hyland is brilliant at styling, visuals and music. And then the play starts. And it is unfortunate that the first half is the one filled with the small parts, because it is unrelenting in its studentness. We were three rows from the front and I could see the lake and brown shading used on Christo Lombard‘s cheeks to age him enough to play Brabantio, Desdemona‘s father. Jodi Balfour did a rather good cameo of the Duke of Venice in a first half that was long and bleak and filled with very am-dram performances. If I had been with Big Friendly I fear we may have left none the wiser at this point.

The second half was so much better it was like a different play. It helped that it was mainly the time for Othello, played superbly by Vaneshran Arumugam, a professional and very talented actor who is back at UCT doing his master’s degree, and Desdemona, performed sensitively and powerfully by Ariella Caira. I was really moved during the famous bedroom murder scene, which was beautiful and unrelenting and very sad. Vaneshran’s depth and range as a good classical performer really come to the fore here. His portrayal of Othello‘s journey is subtle, convincing and very real. And he handles the language really well for the most part. He is leagues ahead of most of his student co-players and this throws out the balance somewhat. At least he is matched by Ariella‘s performance of Desdemona. She is good, very good, and truthful and strong and solid.

othello I think my biggest disappointment was Iago. The character of Iago is Shakespeare’s purest and most outright villain. He is inspired by pure jealousy and ambition and is ruthless, calculating and savage in its execution. He is in turns charming, wheedling, ugly, brutal, vicious and cunning. Charlie Keegan is definitely a very talented young man. But here he just has to work too hard on a part that needs age, experience and a certain inherent power to be convincing. What we get instead is a manic, over the top, and slightly crazed performance complete with huge facial distortions, snorting, weird neck twists and demented eyes and eyebrows. I thought of a Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer. 

Albert Pretorius tried hard as Cassio and he had some sweet moments in an otherwise unconvincing puppet like performance of ‘the tool’ for Iago. But Bianca and her belly dancing friends were just plain hideous. Student extras.

Having come straight from my own Maynardville experience with The Merchant of Venice I was also a little disappointed in how most of the cast (with the exception of Vaneshran and Ariella) handled the verse and the text.

Othello is this year’s school set work and all the schools will get a pretty good idea of what is going on with the story and its themes. I guess that is what is important here. I was left wondering why this production is being staged at The Baxter though. There is no doubt that it is a student production; beautifully styled, well costumed by Ilke Louw and Leila Anderson and well polished by Geoffrey Hyland, but a student production none the less. And you can tell.

Sweeney Todd is a Masterpiece

I must state at the outset that I am not a fan of musicals and I especially struggle with Sondheim’s music. I have also never understood movie musicals. But then Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was made. And it is the entire book, with all the songs.

Sweeney Todd Big Friendly and I went to see it just before we left Jozi and we were totally blown away. Tim Burton is my favourite director. I first loved Beetle Juice, then Edward Scissorhands; Batman Returns was my favourite Batman. I loved Mars Attacks, Big Fish and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He is brilliant. And he really knows Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter who are the stars of this extraordinary movie.

The story is very bleak and there is no light or redemption. This is reflected in the unbelievable set and styling. Every frame is a miserable but beautiful work of art. The cast is amazing, and all sing convincingly to portray their characters. There is a cameo by Sacha Baron Cohen that transforms him as far away from Borat as one can believe. Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall are also superb.

You need a cast-iron stomach for the gross pies and bloody murders. London is painted with an even more bleak brush than Dickens and its population is either rich and corrupt or poor and crazy. There is a crane shot in a market and all the vegetables are black or brown.

I was swept up in this production and I think it is a must-see.

Hitting CT running

We got back last night. The kittens seem to have grown in four days. I was delighted about being home until the wind started, banging our bedroom door open and closed during the night. I start rehearsing this morning for an intense week of Industrial theatre. I am looking forward to it. It is quite a challenging project. I wish I had slept just a little bit more.

Then it’s TheatreSports tonight at The Kalk Bay Theatre. We have a big group of young school learners coming from far away. They come to a TheatreSports show on their school’s tour, every year. Yay.

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