Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: show reviews (Page 1 of 46)

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.

The mind-blowing, moving Sillage

1047_sillagenafsqrI must confess to having been equally intrigued and irritated by the title. Sillage. (Actually, not even spell check likes it, and tried to change it to Village.) I had no idea how to say it. Once I understood what the word meant – the degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn – I loved the idea of it, but I did find it pretentiously oblique. This can be dangerous for a title of a theatre piece. If people don’t understand it, they might not want to see it. It is pretty risky. But I am a hardened theatre goer. I put my big theatre pants on and off I went to the Alexander Bar to see this piece written and directed by Penny Youngelson and performed by Rebecca Makin-Taylor and Michelle Belknap.

And I was undone by it. It is the only expression that describes the quiet emotional landslide that this piece took me on. The plot is simple; a daughter comes back to her parents’ home to help her mother pack up and organise the move to downscale. The play is their relationship.

Now, it is no secret that I have a deeply complicated story with my mother, and this play was no reflection of it, but I was so engrossed in this dynamic, and felt so completely for both characters, it was like being the third person in the room; the one that was them both. As personal becomes political becomes personal the emotional ripples are both inward and outward, and I kept on wondering who I was, here in this world, in this country, in this city, in this suburb, in this age, in this house. I was taken.

The writing is superb, the direction is clever and beautiful and the performances are electric, magnetic, truthful and huge. I felt everything. Always. It was an hour of me being there, in it.

I have not loved much theatre this year. I have been the irritation of others because I have remained mostly unmoved by the work that has been raved about. But this. This Sillage, is the kind of theatre that moves me.

As far as I know it is on for three more shows this run, but it is going to the Gtown fest. Do not miss it.

A Moment of Forever Change – theatre changes lives

8940219Last night I went to see the final performance of the very short run of Ubuze Bam at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. Directed by Thando Dhoni, four real life parolees perform stories from their lives, and their time in prison. Not gonna lie, it felt like I was doing my community service by going. You know that feeling? The show you should, and aught to see, but don’t really in your soul want to? Sometimes your soul is utterly surprised, shaken up, thrown about, and possibly fundamentally changed. Last night that is what happened to us.

Sitting in that space for just under an hour was a combination of agony, heartache, hope, hell and even humour, in the most profound, delicate, searing and brain challenging way.

Thando is absolutely magical at creating ritual and meaning through repeated movement and he managed to get four non-actors to deliver complex and terrifying material with such complexity. I was undone. I started crying and couldn’t stop. When one of what seemed to be the more quiet performers let rip in an agony of screams, demands, pleadings and rage, behind a converted bench of prison bars, I could barely breathe. “Ndidiniwe” – I am tired, he wailed over and over and over again. I could only imagine.

You cannot ever forget, while watching them, that these young men have just come out of prison, serving time for hard core crimes. You cannot ever forget that they are now performing for an audience who are listening to them instead of separated out from them. You cannot ever forget the hideous and terrible things we do to each other, and the the exact opposite; humanity, compassion and connection.

There is no doubt that this was one of the hardest, most beautiful and challenging performances to witness, but it is clear that it changed me, us, the audience, as much as it changed these young men. I pray to a god I don’t believe in that they will feel that change for a very long time. And that they will do this play forever.

Please take a look at for more about this programme. And always support the innovative and extraordinary work made and performed at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective.

The He(art) of it all

This is a really hard post to write, but not because of its content or intention. I am writing it with an aching heart, because last night when I went to the theatre our cat Chassie went missing and hasn’t returned. I have conflated the two things and keep thinking that he climbed up into the inside engine part of my car and that I drove off with him and lost him on the way to the Alexander Bar. This is him.


He has a white ringed eye and a black one, making him look quizzical. And his markings give him a side parting. I cannot imagine life without him and I need everybody’s help in bringing him home.

But back to the theatre. I witnessed the CityVarsity 3rd year degree acting project last night and, honestly, I was so impressed. I was impressed that the students thought to invite me and I was super impressed with their self created texts, great concept work, and fantastic, slick and convincing performances. I thought the work was original, fresh, very brave. It was also funny, relevant, moving and powerful. I have been known to be harshly critical of student work, but Inez Robertson, Genna Blair, David Traub, Annemie Jordaan, Lobke Hein, Lizelle Bernado and Dan-Marie Viljoen you changed my mind about sloppy student work. Also, Sanjin Muftic, Jane Batzofin and Genna Gardini you can be very proud of your students.

I look forward to working with you young talents in the future.

Orpheus in Africa – a triumph of spirit and intention

unnamed-3Last night I had a profound experience at the theatre (The Fugard) and what was doubly surprising about it was that it was a musical (I hate musicals), and it was one I thought I had seen before; David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa. This not the same one I saw at the beginning of the year. This is a reworked, finely tuned, and now truly powerful story, that is devastating, uplifting, human and heroic. It is David Kramer’s best work I think.

It totally helps that he has the cast of dreams, and that Aubrey Poo is beyond magnificent and was meant to be Orpheus Macadoo. And the rest of the cast are outstanding without exception, though I will make an exception when saying how brilliant Jill (Jazz) Levenberg is. Even the little niggles I had last time (wavery accents and weird white people) are gone, and the performances are better in every single way. A welcome addition to the delicious cast is Adrian Galley.

But what has happened to transform this musical and make it transcendent is that David Kramer has found the story. It is a complicated one, and he has had to travel through facts, and scratch out history and imagination to uncover the story that makes the journeys, successes, failures and ultimately the passions of the Macadoos, Virginia, so meaningful. David captures the vision of the world, and particularly South Africa, through the unique eyes of travelling American just freed black people, and it is such an extraordinary journey. Plus, I think it is so unexpectedly brave and risky to rework a show of this scale, but it has paid off in bucket loads.

I love this show. I love the music, and I am deeply in love with the style of the period, the costumes, and the performances. I love the singing, and the music (Charl-Johan Lingenfelder you make me laugh and laugh) and the Jubilee songs. And Aubrey Poo, you move me.

(Pic by the amazing Jesse Kramer)


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