Last night’s was a double opening; a new theatre and a new play (for Cape Town). That’s quite an undertaking. And it was great. Bravo Magnet Theatre (Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek) and everyone else involved in both the theatre and the play. My hugest hope is that people from all over Cape Town will come and see work in this space.
Die Vreemdeling was a great choice to initiate the space. The simple story is about what happens when a stranger is let into a paranoid and defensive small town by a young girl. She opens her gate and her heart and that’s where the ‘strond’ begins. The simple set spread out over the big floor space and was even dwarfed by the high, high ceilings.
The style of Die Vreemdeling is physical theatre; a story told by actors who play lots of characters (and things) and switch from song narration to scene, from actor character to story character and even switch which actor plays which character. It is also created quite specifically from and for a particular West Coast coloured audience (there are obvious bits of Joe Barber and that Jan Spies style of Wes Kus character and humour).
It was especially exciting last night when the play started and the audience sat back to watch. The three man cast; Ephraim Gordon, Rudi Malcolm and Dann-Jaques Mouton are the the most charming performers who connect with the audience from the first moment. Ephraim Gordon switches from a shaky old guy, Lippe, to a young girl just like that. I adored his character Ella. I think he was my favourite. Dann-Jaques Mouton is amazing. He is so tall and skinny and he looks like a palm tree with his dreads; yet he is unbelievably versatile as a physical performer. His windpomp and chicken were an absolute highlight. I think he was my favourite. And Rudi Malcolm, the guy with the guitar; the vreemdeling, and the policeman! He played the baddie and the goodie! He was my favourite.
I really, really enjoyed this play. Accessible, moving, delicious Afrikaans, great performances, touching story, lovely set and lighting. But here are my two tiny niggles. Frances Marek, the talented and gorgeous, is credited as assistant director, and she was on stage moving furniture. I don’t know why, but this upset me. And the other thing is less of a niggle and more of a ‘big sigh’ moment. From the beginning of the play I felt like I was watching a different version of my own The Tent; what happens when a stranger comes to town. I know all of our stories are part of a collective consciousness but I often have the feeling that some theatre makers need to make a bigger effort to see each others’ work.
Onward, forward, upward. The snacks after the show looked delicious. But I’m on a bit of a regime (I’ll write about it closer to the time). Let’s get the word out there. A new show in a new space is hard to publicise. I must just say that it is so easy to find The Magnet Theatre. Drive down Lower Main Road, Obz, from Station Road, say, towards town. See the sign on the right hand side, go park and you are there. Get there early for proper safe and totally controlled off street parking!