Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: March 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

London Road

London Road_40 Last night was the ‘world premiere’, as Simon Cooper (owner of The Kalk Bay Theatre, theatre producer and all round theatre lover) proclaimed of Nicholas Spagnoletti’s play London Road. It was a glamorous affair at my favourite independent theatre in Cape Town.

I feel like I have already been on a long journey with London Road, having seen both staged play readings of the play over the years, so I felt like I knew what to expect from the characters and story. Wrong!

London Road is a two hander, set in sea Point. It is about the unlikely friendship that develops between Rosa (Robyn Scott), an old and sickly Jewish granny, and Stella (Ntombi Makhutshi), a Nigerian drug dealer. Lara Bye directs, with design by Craig Leo and lighting by Faheem Bardien.

I have to say that I cried. A lot. It is a very moving piece. Unexpectedly moving. And that is because this team of creators have done a fabulous job. Nicholas has written characters that any actress would die to play. Jealous is how I feel! Lara has teased out the script with Nicholas, making it subtle, poignant and very, very moving, and the actresses are completely brilliant. Craig Leo’s design, and by that I mean his magic drawers that bring out everything but the kitchen sink, is the perfect solution to the play.

Robyn Scott is a master of transformation. She becomes my great auntie Hilda. Rosa is so completely…Rosa. Her attention to detail, her weird little vocalisations, her make-up, her funny old lady sandals, her constantly moving little hand. She is a master. Ntombi Makhutshi is gorgeous, powerful and just so engaging. It is a treat to watch these two on stage.

I cannot think of a single reason why anyone in Cape Town shouldn’t see this play. It is proof that a play can grow, develop, be reworked and become something totally precious and beautiful. Bravo to all.

Almost but barely Surviving

I wonder what it must be like to be one of the shlebs watching Survivor Santa Carolina, now, in retrospect. I wonder how it must feel, and whether they knew who was driving the game at the time. Is everyone sitting at home thinking, how did we let her get away with that?

Ep7_58_lg Ou Louw was voted off tonight in a spine chilling twist that even had me reaching for my coke zero I was coughing so hard. Jissee, who would have thought Izak had it in him hey? He pulled it off bladdy well though; but why did he have to vote for Gys (Gys for Survivor!) man? That one vote could could count against him at a later stage! No, I was shocked, but probably not as shocked as Okkert. Shoo, he must have shivered with relief.

There is something gritty and real about this Survivor, and it isn’t the usual stuff. The fact that the shlebs are there and competing for a charity, and that they all cried their pips off tonight when they got letters from the charities they support, was very, very sweet.

The strain is starting to show though. Poor little Sade spent the whole episode weeping. And Okkert and Louw both went a bit bos. Which left Kas winning immunity for a second time. I coorent believe it. Jirre!

The worst part is that I am making it seem like it was kak exciting. And it wasn’t; I’m just a total Survivor junkie.

I have to say, at the back of my head tonight was the completely hectic, real life drama unfolding in Gauteng with Jub Jub, who left Survivor with a penis problem that we all laughed at, and is now at the heart of the hideous death of four school children. What an unspeakable tragedy.

Done London

I think it’s weird that there are two little independent plays with London in their title in the Cape Town ether at the same time. Last night I went to see Done London at The Intimate, and the writer of London Road, Nicholas Spagnoletti, was there too. His play opens tomorrow at the Kalk Bay Theatre.

I have read two very good crits about Done London which are out there, and really, I don’t have much to add. It’s a very sweet and totally watchable production with some lovely performances, particularly by Julia Anastasopoulos, Deborah Vieyra and Mark Elderkin. Francesco Nassimbeni directs.

Yes, the script is a bit thin. Yes, there are the usual Saffer stereotypes, and yes, the play has managed to date itself that quickly, since Saffers are no longer eligible for a two year working visa to the UK. Still. I thought it was delightful. And I think it rang quite true.

It’s great to see a big cast in a tiny, independent production. It’s great to do absolutely no work as an audience but to sit back and enjoy the experience. Mark Elderkin and Deborah Vieyra are hilarious, and Julia Anastasopoulos (spell that after a dop!) delivers a bitter sweet and very real heartsick, homesick, wannabe actress doing a kak job in London. Been there. Done that. So horrible.

Done London is worth the R70 ticket for the enjoyment of a totally ‘unboring’ theatre experience. I think people keep comparing it to a TV sitcom because it is fun to watch. Off you go then. It’s on until this Saturday.

Ah, Ha!Man

I’ve wanted to see this guy for ages now, having heard so much about him, so last night Big Friendly and I went off to the Kalk Bay Theatre to check the Ha!Man out. It was one of those times when you realise that all people, even your most loved ones, occupy different planets. When the lights came on at interval, I broke my rapture and turned to Big Friendly. His look was pure acid. “What total shit!” he said.

I had to take a moment to deal with the shock! I had sat, listening to the Ha!Man improvise vocally, make music, dance to images of grape vines and girl, play his instruments and tap computers, and I had gone into an almost trance! All the while Big Friendly had sat seething beside me. Different strokes. Ovias. I let Big Friendly leave and I scored a lift home with my china, who loves the Ha!Man so much, she had been to the show three nights in a row.

guitarist The Ha!Man is very, very interesting indeed. His performance is mostly improvised, and you literally see him looking around at times for inspiration, the what of his next bit. Of course improvisation is exactly what I am passionate about, so it was very exciting to watch that process. I think that what is quite different about music/sound improv is that as an audience member you are much more passive. Which totally worked for me last night; I just sat back and tranced out. But I can see where the potential is for ‘some people’ bf bf, to find it all a bit self-indulgent. 

One of the things that was amazing about this experience was how the Ha!Man flies solo. Improv has always been such collaborative work for me; it has always involved more than one person, even if it is just having a stronger, more interactive relationship with the audience. The Ha!Man’s final moment last night was using the audience’s clapping ovation and playing with, and that was really very cool. Up until then it had been much more just watching him do the stuff, which I found both mesmerising and quite inspiring.

A weird little side note: Haman is the bad guy in the Jewish story of Purim, which was celebrated last Sunday. On this Jewish holiday one of the things you do is when the congregation listens to the reading of the story, every time the name Haman is said people make huge noise, with rattles and their voices, so that the sound of his name is totally drowned out. 

and I’m not Telling Lies

stuart The first thing that struck me as I walked into the Arena Theatre at Artscape last night was how un-theatre people the audience was. Theatre audiences are a specific kind of somebody, and I normally recognise or know a few people in the crowd. last night I knew one person, and I had never seen him at a play before. We were there to watch magician Stuart Lightbody’s new show, Telling Lies.

I have seen Stuart at least three times before and I have always marvelled at his skill and this show is no different in that respect. He is a super smooth sleight of hander, and he is super cool and sweet with his patter too. It really is like watching a charming, intelligent, sweet talking schoolboy talk you into buying a sick elephant and believing that you need it more than anything else in the world.

His powers of autosuggestion are superb, and while he glibly glides through the demystification of all things magic and supernatural, and explains trickery, lies and deception, he is busy, gently pulling the wool (or in my case blindfold) over our eyes! I got called up last night, was blindfolded, told to think about a few people (or something), while he spoke to the audience and chose three people with three playing cards. Then, miraculously, he got me to say what the three cards were! I have no idea how he did that. The audience was flummoxed and totally impressed, but not quite as impressed as I was!

That was in the first half. The second half was more complicated, and my friend figured out how he did the final trick. Still, it didn’t take away from this young man’s charm and mastery. He is the real deal, and nothing like those creepy magicians you remember from children’s parties when you were small. He’s on at The Arena for the rest of this week!

Young and fresh Romeo and Juliet

In January 2007 I sat down and wrote my first ever post on this blog about a production of Romeo and Juliet. I did not say good things. So, while I sat in the darkened Little Theatre last night, listening to the music and waiting for the show to begin, I had trepidations. What if it was going to be horrible?

The lights came up and I didn’t think it again. This is a totally cool production! What a relief! And what a good job UCT Drama School.

Jacqui Singer directs this huge cast of students in an absolutely watchable, totally understandable, fast paced, moving, stylish production of one of Shakespeare’s most loved, most put on and most quoted plays. To start with, the director has done a most excellent job of cutting the play. Slashed to ribbons, but with all of the important stuff still there, it was a fast paced, just over two hour Shakespeare. Totally manageable for the students, the public audience (on a stinker of a hot night the Little Theatre aircon was like a gift from the gods) and friends and family of the young cast.

The set, designed by Daniel Galloway, is clever and effective; a series of platforms, balconies and walkways, giving the students an excellent opportunity to be physical and interesting, and allowing for small intimate scenes and huge spectacle ones too. Daniel also designed the lights, which looked great.

The costumes, by Leigh Bishop were completely amazing. Everybody looked brilliant in an eclectic mix of old, new, soft and flowing, leather, traditional Elizabethan elements, stylish and trendy. I thought that Romeo, Juliet, Lady Capulet, Mercutio and Tybalt (with all those tattoos) looked brilliant, and Nurse’s costume was a highlight.

And now to the students. I have to say I was mostly pretty damn impressed! I think that Jacqui has worked so thoroughly and generously with them and, although some are head and shoulders better than others, they deliver performances that are filled with integrity and energy. They also deliver on character. Yes, some of them spoke too fast or too softly, some of them slammed about or disappeared, but that’s just like any Shakespeare; heavy on very talented leads, and bit parts that aren’t the best. I am going to single out my favourite favourites.

Romeo, played by James MacGregor, is gorgeous. I really loved his performance. He was the most present, unaffected, young love-sincere Romeo I have seen (and I was swept back to my childhood and how deeply in love I was with Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo played by Leonard Whiting. Oh that bum.) MacGregor keeps all his clothes on and still manages to give us a sexy young thing. He is great. Juliet (played by Rosa Whitcher last night) was also fabulous, in a very different way. She captured Juliet’s teenage youth, and her performance was so natural and unaffected. Her balcony scene was excellent. Mercutio, played by Keeran Blessie, was also great. His swish, camp, articulate and passionate interpretation was magnetic. I loved lady Capulet, played last night by Inke Jaroszynski, who was totally convincing as someone so much older. I also loved Benvolio, played by Glen Biederman-Pam, who had brilliant moments in a largely thankless role, and I loved Friar Laurence, played by Malefane Mosuhli, who was intense and genuine and lovely.

But it was the shining performance of Lerato Motshwarako as the nurse that stole my heart. Yo, that chick can mos act hey? She has got it. In chunks. She was the best part of Macbeki last year, and again, here she radiates in a character older than her by about twenty years, who is funny, touching, quaint, old fashioned, human, and just, huge. Bravo Lerato, you are going places. And the best part is, when you leave drama school you’ll get a chance to play those young leads too!

Lest I sound like a sycophant, let me mention the two things that got on my nerves. I got irritated by the blackouts. Every five minutes there was another one. Let’s rather see those changes and have a blackout at the end, especially since the pace is so good with all those cuts. And then there are those goddamn boots. Please UCT Drama School wardrobe, please, get rid of those big black, knee length boots that need to be hidden away and brought out only for Nazis or Woycheck. Firstly, they make an actor’s legs go all funny and they have to take those ridiculous goose stepping strides. Secondly, they are so mind crashingly loud on that wooden stage. Thirdly, they look so poncy and out of place. I hate those boots!

Let me not dwell on silliness. Good sword fighting (although I always like a bit of blood), excellent crowd scenes, and lovely in between scenes music help make this a fab production of R & J. If you see one Shakespeare this year, choose this one.

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