Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: show reviews (Page 1 of 47)

What Audiences Want

I know this has been a recurring theme in my work and writing. I asked the question more boldly when I was young. The Return of the Rhino Woman asked it directly, with me as performer refusing to come out of the dressing room until the audience declared their interest and commitment to the performance. I have been posing it differently since then, and more subtly, but I really do want to know this more, and better.

A result of wanting to know this has been me switching from writing about theatre I see, here, in my deeply personal and uncensored way, to writing about theatre in a more official review style for Weekend Special. My writing there has a much broader audience, especially since it isn’t only people who know me and my blog. I believe the WS readers are mostly Capetonians who want to find out about good theatre in the city, and productions who can use positive words and phrases for publicity. But is it? Are they?

I went to see The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri on Monday night and wrote about it immediately when I got home. It was a most beautiful piece of theatre by an incredible performer. I loved everything about it. All I wanted was to do the piece justice and to make people want to see it. My review went live on Wednesday morning and I can see it has been read a fair number of times. But has it made a difference? Have people read my review and gone to see the show?

If you are reading this, and you read my review, did you go? Have you made a plan to see it? Please let me know.

Feral

When the company is called Tortoise in a Nutshell you know what you are about to see will be different.

59E59 is a gorgeous theatre complex that highlights British work, often before it goes to Edinburgh. And Tortoise in a Nutshell is an Edinburgh based visual theatre company.

I have never seen anything quite like Feral. 5 cast members. Three mover/filmers, one sound man and another live vision mixer. A complex and technical, white, mostly board and putty set, with teeny, tiny details and Pixar lamps moved and turned on and off in a fluid dance. Live foleys and looped percussion and voice over an expansive and evocative soundtrack.

How it works. A town is built before our eyes as a man draws it. We are introduced to Joe (the man) and his sister. Buildings are brought onto this round, grooved, tilted table and a whole little town and all its characters are populated, and then filmed. Really close up.

Feral is a tiny story about a tiny town that is destroyed when a Supercade (a massive mall) is built where the park used to be. It is a story that moves from the deeply personal to the political and back to the harrowing, devastating personal. And the whole thing happens with minute, magnificent puppetry.

I loved it. I was transported, moved, shifted and completely in awe.

 

 

All My Sons on Broadway


Watching a play on Broadway for this South African meisie is always an other worldly experience.

Picture this. A completely full, huge theatre where tickets are sold at an absolute premium. A show that has been running for months. A classic. Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, starring Annette Bening and Tracy Letts. A full, three act play. With a full, proper cast.

The set. A sepia storm on a front screen sets the just-post war tone. A garden. A double story house. Lawn. Trees. A view of the neighbours’ houses. Huge. Magnificent. Detailed. Wisteria on the little gazebo. The set at an angle. Feeling the whole suburb. This dominant house. This house we can see into.

The cast. Aside from the fact that Annette Bening, Tracy Letts and Benjamin Walker are huge. Huge. These actors WERE NOT MIC’ed. These actors projected. These actors. These actors who were allowed to pause for almost a minute because they had earned it. And they had.

The focus, commitment, style, direction, the detail the pace, the choices, the decisions. The time. Almost 2.5 hours of theatre.

The text. Arthur Miller’s text is exquisite. And American. It is hard work. And agonising. Our world has minimised these ethical, moral struggles about conscience, and business and corruption and war. Our world on social media and our unaccountable, corrupt leaders are taking us back to a pre-war place. I was frightened.

This Tony nominated production is glorious. Important. Proper. And I am so privileged to have seen it.

A Steamy Sunday in NYC

Yesterday was hot. The cool aircon of the Path Subway to Jersey City was a delicious respite. Our rehearsal was intense. I have written a really hardcore play. Jaci and Zane are dream players. We always feel like we want to be doing the full production.

It is amazing how quickly we make rituals. On Saturday Jaci and I bought little power breakfast bowls. They were delicious. We had to do it again yesterday. Frozen vegan chocolate protein with granola, banana and peanut butter. Yum.

After rehearsals we traveled back to Manhattan and caught a 5pm show of  The Day I Became Black by Bill Posely in a gorgeous old theatre The SoHo Playhouse. It was a very special one man show; a personal, funny, well observed journey towards bi-racial identity and how it plays out in a world obsessed with binary labels, boxes and things. I was charmed and moved by him.

After the talkback we came outside to a dusk that had been cooled by a rain shower that we had missed. It was a beautiful world of wet smells, glistening light and a gentle breeze.

OY! Theatre and DNA

Things have been happening at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, in Observatory. Twice a week young people from all over Cape Town have gathered, under the inspiration of Caroline Calburn, and the direction of Jaqueline Dommisse, and they have been rehearsing a play.

Last night I went to the opening performance of DNA written by Dennis Kelly and performed by the company of (almost totally) school goers, and I was absolutely blown away.

Every single aspect of this extraordinary production was completely professional, and mindbogglingly good. So good, in fact, that they deserve a proper review.

The plot. A group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where’s the incentive to put things right? A modern Lord of the Flies, with more swearing, introspection and added horror. It is really, really scary.

Jaqueline Dommisse has worked magic with these young performers who have fully developed characters, stage presence and a deep understanding of the material. What they lack in stage experience and technique they totally make up for in commitment and presence, and they work gloriously as a team to create powerful, emotional, meaningful work.

Jaqueline’s set is inspirational. A jungle gym is skeleton, structure, status and school ground. The use of the space is amazing, allowing the children to pound across the distance. Music and superb lighting (Frans) add to the charged atmosphere, and even details like prosthetic make-up are perfect.

There are things that make me happy and proud to live in this city (not often, but sometimes) and a youth theatre company down the road from where I live, is my newest happy making thing.

I am so excited that I am going to be working with this extraordinary company next. They are going to be exploring improv with me, and we will aim to perform some traditional TheatreSports shows at the end of the term. Watch this space.

Single Minded Hilariousness

1441_dsc_0721-2Last night I laughed. I laughed loud, and long, and kept on going. I barked, and guffawed and chuckled and giggled and squealed. And this was all in the same hour, at the Alexander Bar, at Jon Keevy’s new creation, Single Minded; the sort of sequel to his Dirty Words. I liked Dirty Words, but I love Single Minded. It is right up my, oh god, alley.

Single Minded is very, very clever sketch comedy, written by Jon Keevy, and directed by him, and performed by the adorable Kiroshan Naidoo and delicious Kathleen Stephens.

I usually hate sketch comedy actually. I usually hate it because it feels slapped together; underwritten, under rehearsed and kind of ‘let’s see if we can get away with it’ in style and tone. Single Minded is not that. It is very well written (especially if you delight in puns and wordplay), beautifully rehearsed, and it has costume changes AND choreography. It also has a great soundtrack and (as Jon himself pointed out) many, many sound and light cues. This is a slick show, levitating it above the genre, and making it very damn funny.

Kiroshan and Kathleen are entirely at home with the style, which is bold and cheeky, and they indulge in the material, and scene changes. I loved them. I loved Johan (but will not give more info as a spoiler), and I loved drunk bride-to-be, and I loved self-help guru and assistant the most. Actually, Johan the most, no, no, drunk bride-to-be.

Last night was particularly special because somebody in the audience got used; a really old guy, and he had absolutely no idea. I thought I was going to get a hernia.

I cannot imagine why you would not go and see this show, on at 7pm for the next two weeks. And my fave Dani and the Lion is at 9pm, so make a meal of it. Best ever.

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