Isabella is the new offering written by Scott Sparrow, performed by Scott Sparrow and Leila Anderson and directed by the overwhelmingly busy Rob van Vuuren on at The Intimate Theatre until the end of next week.
I went tonight and I wasn’t impressed. I was anticipating enjoying it; I love Scott as a performer and I usually like most of what Rob is involved in, but tonight I was restless and bored and completely unmoved.
I saw Scott’s Performer’s Travel Guide only recently and I really loved it. Isabella continues certain themes that are obviously a preoccupation with Scott. It also deals with the life and death existence of the performer albeit in a more Gothic and obvious way here. It’s probably not fair but I am going to compare the two. And Isabella comes off second best. Where PTG was fresh and original Isabella is contrived and derivative. Where the style of PTG was enchanting and captivating the style here felt repetitive and inconsistent. Here the characters are too broadly sketched, with vague accents and lots of posing. In PTG the two props were carefully chosen and brilliantly used. In Isabella jackets and scarves and a little baby guitar were arbitrary and unjustified. The action was fuzzy and the storyline had gaping holes. To be honest, it felt like we were watching the first draft of a potentially good idea that was nowhere near audience ready.
Scott almost gets away with some moments because he is so charming, but his performance is sloppy and cutesy and vague. Not good enough from this very talented boy.
I was also disappointed with Leila Anderson. No doubt she is very beautiful, and she looked just like a beautiful gypsy dancer girl. But the character of Isabella was thin and slow and posed, lacking an earthiness and a spontaneity. It was all about pretty pictures. Then, there was not enough electricity between the two to light a dry match. Without that spark there is no story, no passion, no conflict, no point really.
Rob van Vuuren needs to work harder as director, choreographer and editor here. I don’t think this show is ready to be seen yet. More script, characterisation, story, clarity, rehearsals, intention, motivation, resolution will turn this good idea into a play.