Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: November 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

All Cracked up!

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to see Cracks, but last night Big Friendly and I finally got there and I had one of those best times of laughing my head off for over an hour.

This incarnation of Marianne Thamm’s on stage mid life crisis as performed by her, Anthea Thompson, Shimmy Isaacs and Anne Hirsch is at On Broadway, which used to be the New Space which was not a theatre for a long time after it stopped being the old Space.

Cracks In The City is comedy. There is stand-up (mostly Anne and Shimmy), sit down and demonstration comedy by host Marianne, character and song by mistress of transformation Anthea, and even funny recorded sketches. Marianne is one of the funniest people I know and she has this completely wacky, very fast delivery of material that is bizarre, original and quite mental. She is a fantastic emcee and host for the evening. Anthea’s character, a lopsided breasted old stinker, who has a bit of a habit dispensing and taking pharmaceuticals is hilarious, and her singer who sings a dirty little song had me weeping. Anne Hirsch does a fresh young stand-up routine, my favourite part being the Sokkie sucks; you have to see it. Then Shimmy does a warm, delicious combination of stand-up and sketch which is local and totally lekker. I particularly smaaked her gangster dance/fight routine.

The most hilarious moment of the show (and one I will never, ever forget) is a visual one, virtually impossible to describe here (but you know me, I’m going to give it a bash!). Anthea’s old lady is doing the most bizarre sequence of ‘eye’ tests on a hapless male volunteer from the audience (last night’s man was this tall, grinning stick of embarrassment) and suddenly, after placing him in the right position on stage she gallimpses towards him with a chart that he needs to read. It is so fast. And weird. And totally, completely beyond anything. I thought I was going to suffer a physical ailment myself from that lopsided speed assault on that poor man.

Obviously some stuff is more funny than others, and each audience member will have their favourite favourite. Four completely different cracks on stage. I was jealous, but in a good way. All I wanted was to be a crack. And I am one! Hau!

A tiny footnote must be added. What’s with the shabby little venue downstairs? Big Friendly and I went down there after the show to wait to say thanks to the cast and the lights were on bright, there was no music, a programme called ‘teen mom’ was on the big screen TV, but Big Friendly thought it was called ‘Please change the lamp’ because that was the display message on the screen, we weren’t offered a drink (in fact I don’t even know if there were wait staff around) and it felt a bit like being in a hospital waiting room. Which is not a good thing to feel after an amazing, funny show that makes you want to hang around afterwards and drink and talk and laugh. What gives?

Cracks In the City is on at On Broadway until the 27 November.

Brilliant Shadow of Brel take #2

Godfrey Johnson is doing a short two week run of his Brel show at the Kalk Bay Theatre and I went along last night even though I have seen it before and reviewed it here. In this venue the show is stronger, harder and somehow more intense, hardly giving the audience time or space to breathe. I think it has to do with the brilliant lighting that Jon Keevy made as well as the stillness of Godfrey in his chair for the whole thing. Brilliant. If You Go Away has never been done better and Next, The Lockman and some of the other lesser known songs are genius. I couldn’t stay for the second half, where Godfrey performs requests that members of the audience choose and pay for and the money goes to the Darling Trust (what a brilliant idea), I had a headache from hell that I couldn’t get rid of. The message to all who haven’t seen this show is, go. This is Brel with a capital B. And to those who have; it’s worth seeing again in this space. It’s not a laugh a second journey. It is intense, harrowing, sentimental, crazy, potent, poetic, demented and magnificent.

Mostly mesmerising Interrupting Henry

I finally got to Artscape this evening to see Interrupting Henry, the second play in Artscape’s New Writing Season; there have been a series of misses resulting in me not getting there sooner. It’s written by Myer Taub, directed by Matthew Wild, and designed by Angela Nemov with music by Shaun Michau and lighting by Faheem Bardien.

Interrupting Henry is about a new drama teacher who tries to put on The Diary of Ann Frank as the school play and he gets into a bit of trouble with the rigid school staff and the normal school rules and regulations. The problem is that this isn’t very fleshed out in the script so it doesn’t have much emotional weight or resonance. Nonetheless, the story and it’s execution are very entertaining.

Things I loved about the play: The Set. Angela created an amazing set that was interesting, had great, shifting perspective, excellent usability and great colours. The lighting. It completely worked. The sound and music; it was haunting, rousing, big and contemporary. Ivan Abrahams as Samuels. He was hilarious, complex and totally delightful as the onbewus, typical headmaster. Julia Anastasopoulos as Elsa Brown. I love watching Julia on stage.

Things I didn’t like: Teresa Iglich as Smith. Sorry, don’t get her. Bits of the script that worked too hard or too little at making sense or delivering the issues. Travers Snyders. He brought very little to the role of Zed, the schoolboy. Vaneshran Arumugam as Henry. I think Vaneshran had an off night (I usually love him as an actor) but he seemed very unfocused and all over the place tonight.

I think the script needs to be developed. I remember being a stand-in teacher for Myer (the playwright) when he was a school drama teacher, so I see where he gets his inspiration but I think that the issues need to be brought to the fore in a more committed way.

Still, I really enjoyed watching it.

dental woes

There is one thing that makes me instantly and deeply sorry for myself and that is having to wait in a doctor’s waiting room for something that you know is going to be horrible. That’s me, right now, waiting for the special hygienist at the periodontist. It could be worse. My friend T is in the hospital next door recovering from surgery after a burst appendix.
But here is the shining light of the situation. I am updating my blog on my blekberrie! Oh the most amazing miracle of modern public whingeing!

Womb Tide – Best stage pomp ever

On the way home in the car, and the journey from The Baxter to Woodstock is very short I admit, I struggled but couldn’t explain to Big Friendly how I felt about FTH:K‘s new production Womb Tide, which opened at the studio last night.

I was very excited for this show. I am a believer in FTH:K. I love what they do, what they stand for, their passion, commitment, creativity and brilliant work ethic. I love the amazing Womb Tide mobile hanging in The Baxter foyer. I really, really wanted to like this production.

And for the first fifteen minutes I was absolutely charmed. Liezl de Kok is so cute, engaging, magnetic and delicious (not to mention entirely beautiful) and Daniel Buckland is delicious and equally engaging. I loved being introduced to the characters and set and relationship between them. This culminated in the best SOS (sex on set) moment I have ever seen on stage. That is how it must be done. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Unfortunately, that was the, excuse the pun, climax of the play for me, and from then on it became quite hard going. Here’s what I think happens. Everything feels the same. Because of the minimal use of words, and almost clowning technique of physicalisation it all comes out on the same emotional level. When things are cool and dandy (love, sex, marriage) there is enough energy and action to keep things sparking and alive. The minute the thing turns serious it starts feeling long and uncomfortable and repetitive.

I know that Ugli Bob (the amazing director Rob Murray) is strongly moving in the direction of creating a physical theatre vocabulary. The danger here is that the piece, the subject matter and storyline, seem to need a shift of treatment when things change emotionally. The actions are just not enough, and the few words are just moments of deep frustration for the characters, and I suspect for some of us in the audience too. Which also brings me to my next point. I definitely got the few words, or even part words, in their seventies flavoured Seff Effrican accents, but I didn’t really understand why some stuff was in gibberish.

Unfortunately, for me, there was a disconnect between the set-up and the story.I felt like I could see what was happening; I understood it all fine, but I was somehow disengaged. While the piece has so many things that work in its favour; a great cast, brilliant set, gorgeous and committed puppeteers, lovely costumes and props, clear intention and style, it didn’t reach the finishing line for me. I felt like I wanted to be crying at the end, but instead I was pissed off with the person sitting next to me who had been fiddling with her very bright phone for twenty minutes.

I also felt that the sound was a combination of FTH:K’s last two productions, Pictures of You and Quack! There was another problem, and that was the space. I missed all the stuff that happened on the floor, when the actors and puppet and puppeteers were not standing up. In fact I am pretty sure that I missed quite important stuff in the story, that I just never saw happen. This is a problem with the studio, but it was horrible feeling like there was stuff going on that we couldn’t see at all.

Look, it could just be me. In fact, I’m half hoping that it is, and that others will find this work brilliant. Please leave comments. Let’s have a debate.

Shameless Product Placement

Here is a copy of a press release I am busy putting out.

Shameless Product Placement opportunity In Good Will Acting

Good Will Acting is a Christmas show being put on at The Kalk Bay Theatre from the 4th to the 31 December, running from Wednesdays to Saturdays (not including Christmas day). It stars Anele Situlweni, Daneel van der Walt, Larissa Hughes and Ntombi Makhutshi and is directed by Megan Choritz, with lots of advice, help and instruction from Helen Cooper.

The story of how Good Will Acting came about is amazing. A group of actors were contracted to perform an industrial theatre road show and they fell in love with each other (and their director). The director (me, Megan Choritz) made the cast an offer they couldn’t refuse; the chance to workshop, create and perform in a Christmas show, with no budget, no script, no venue, no set or costumes, only good ideas and plenty of enthusiasm. Four out of the five cast members agreed! (The fifth had other gigs and paying performances, we were told.)

Suddenly, the universe provided and a previously booked slot at The Kalk Bay Theatre became available. What had been a whimsical fantasy became a bold and terrifying reality.

We are on page 9 of writing the script. It is hilarious. It is going to be an Activity play, because Ras the Rasta says Nativity is too negative. Libertina X doesn’t give a shit what it’s called as long as her honours in theatre making skills are shown off in such a way that it guarantees proper theatre work soon. Tabatha is fully alive to the process of acting; LRA, Listen, Respond, Act, and Marlene just wants to do anything that will help her not go and waitress at the Apache Spur in Strand Street. The choreography, songs and most of the story of the birth of Christ will be borrowed from other productions and stolen from other creative sources.

As much of the industrial theatre set and props as is possible will be re-purposed for Good Will Acting but we do need some money, to maybe make a poster and flyers, or to cover transport costs and things. Which is where you come into the picture. We are offering Shameless Product Placement in the show, regardless of the product, its uses or its target market. Let Good Will Acting advertise for you, whoever you are. Do you want to sell hand-made Christmas gifts? Are you the marketing manager for Red Bull? Does Vodacom need a bit of a plug? We are literally selling four Shameless Product Placement slots in the show. Your product or service will be mentioned every night for the duration of the run for the ridiculous price of R1000. *Special discounts will be given for products that are red, white, and/or blue (blue is the new green this Christmas, because those are the corporate colours from the Industrial theatre job).

We’d love to include you in Good Will Acting. And you can help us make it happen. Call, sms, facebook, email or even twitter me. Or leave a message for me here on megan’s head. *I forgot to mention that small donations for mentions on our (still imaginary) programme will be gratefully received.

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