Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Dalliances

Artscape’s Season of New Writing for 2008 kicked off last night with Dalliances written by Pieter Jacobs. Last year the play was showcased at the Spring Drama Season. A showcase means it gets four performances and if the play is well received it gets a full run a year later, with budget for set, design etc. So this was the full run version, directed by Matthew Wild and designed by Angela Nemov.

I didn’t see last year’s showcase and all I knew was that the play had won awards at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival at the beginning of the year. So off we went.

It is always interesting to see a play that has a perceived niche market, since that affects who gets invited to the opening night and last night the audience was peppered with pink power. As I sat down I remembered some of the publicity shots of a shirtless Clayton Boyd and I realised that there was a bit of a titillation factor here as well. dalliances

Dalliances essentially deals with the consequences of multiple sex partners in a small, interwoven (very Cape Town) community. It’s a bit like six degrees of separation, except here it’s more like three. Obviously AIDS is an issue in the South African gay world too. Here, four characters end up having some contact with each other as their lives get interwoven by the promiscuity of one of them.

As we walked into Artscape’s Arena I enjoyed what had been done to the space. The existing seats were shifted at an angle and a whole extra seating section was on the far side of the stage, confining the performing area to half the floor, the staircase, the little platform usually used for the lights and sound operators, the obsolete lighting box and the stairs used to get up into the roof. The area was also beautifully styled in blacks, greys, whites and yellows.

In fact, the transformation of the space and the clever lighting, costume and design was a highlight of the production for me. I loved the products, shopping baskets, bubbles, huge wallpaper, lift/shower, strip of lights and yellow balls. The lemon/knife thing was the only bit that went a little too far and was loaded with ‘meaning’.

I was absolutely split down the middle in terms of the cast and performances. Daneel van der Walt who played Janet literally stole the show. She is a phenomenal talent and her edgy, energetic and extraordinary performance was riveting. She was hilarious, outrageous, crazy, poignant and clever. I loved watching her and she totally held my attention in a difficult role. Keenan Arrison as Andy had less to work with script wise but I thought he managed to pull off the fragile, crazy, terrified and hurt young thing really well.

Absolutely less successful for me were Clayton Boyd as Ken and Stephen Jubber as Leo. In fact, the last time I saw them was in The Merchant of Venice and their characters were similar! How on earth is that possible? Their is no doubt that Clayton has an absolutely beautiful body; a prerequisite for the part, and he had his shirt (and pants) off most of the time, but he is not great at characterisation and sub-text, which meant that the promiscuous, hedonistic, bisexual young thing he was playing was just a pretty body. Stephen Jubber also struggled with creating a character and playing his sub-text, which resulted in a very two-dimensional, whining performance of happy, concerned, sad. I can’t help but feel that their most successful moments were the ones where they said nothing and had their pants down, which wasn’t exactly the point.

It is weird for me that the strongest part, both writing and performance wise, in a gay play about men was the woman. Interesting.

I thought the play was good. My attention was held and I was involved right to the end. I would have made different casting choices to give the story more weight and impact, but hey, let’s face it, I’m not the target audience, am I?

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7 Comments

  1. The Saint

    How did BF enjoy it ??

  2. megan

    Not much.

  3. Marcel Meyer

    Dear Megan,

    It with great dismay that when we Google theatre productions in Cape Town, yet again, your vindictive, malicious and destructive Blog pops up on the computer screen. Today your personal, bitter attack on the performers in Dalliances is no exception. We have not seen the production yet, so we are not commenting on the validity of your personal opinion but more on the absolute poisonous attack on the young performers and the destructive repercussions it could possibly have on a new work and a producing management.

    We ask ourselves repeatedly, when reading your vitriol, what are you trying to achieve with these personal, uncalled for attacks….and several issues arise…

    You are an independent theatre maker, writer and director in the Cape Town Theatre Industry – Why attack it so personally?

    You are a member of PANSA – an initiative trying to support, promote and unite and the independents in the industry. – Why go against everything PANSA is trying to do?

    Roy Sargeant raises millions for the New Writing Season [his own personal initiative] to promote new young writers, directors, designers and actors and inject a new and exciting energy into the theatre scene and create employment! Your new play is part of this year’s season. Last year you co-wrote and directed Graham Weir’s new musical – staged at this initiative and the year before, if memory serves correctly, you had your production of Noah staged there – Where is your appreciation and loyalty?

    You co-directed the two young actors in Merchant of Venice at Maynardville, which you so spitefully and personally shredded in your Blog on Dalliances – Why?

    Your apparent homophobia is quite disturbing in this day and age.

    We and several others have also been at the receiving end of your poisonous pen.

    In a time when the industry is trying so desperately to survive and do provocative, new work – we cannot understand your personal ranting and cruel attacks.

    Unfortunately with the internet age – your Blogs are public domain and several people when searching for a possible ‘show’ to see, could come across your Blogs and this could be so destructive.

    Now of course Megan, you are fully entitled to your own personal opinions. You are fully within your right to post them and publish them wherever and whenever you see fit. You also have the right to dislike a production or performances – but why not say so in acceptable ‘theatre jargon’? Why do you always resort to these personal attacks on people? With Dalliances, for instance – why not stick to saying that you found the boys’ performances a bit one dimensional or whatever – why go on about,” …their most successful moments were the ones where they said nothing and had their pants down…”

    In your successive Blogs we have read, with disbelief, spiteful comments about and allusions to performers’ sexuality, their hair, their weight, their friends in the industry [information you are privy to – as you are in the industry e.g. A responsible writer would not raise the issue of Anthea Thompson and Robyn Scott’s friendship in a review about Anthea’s performance as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet] …the list of your vitriol is endless…and all this, when not five lines above in your latest Blog, you bemoan your fate at the hands of Adrian Sichel’s unfavourable review of your latest offering in Johannesburg. Not one line in her review was a personal attack on you or your performer!

    Now what to do?

    We are absolutely powerless, in this modern internet age, to stop you nastily Blog-ing away.

    However, there is something we as the management of the NewSpace Theatre can do!

    You are well aware that all public bars, restaurants and theatres ‘reserve the right of admission’.

    We as the NewSpace hereby evoke that right and wish to inform you, Megan Choritz, that you are forthwith restricted [banned if you like] form attending any performances or events at the NewSpace, 44 Long Street Cape Town. Your photograph will be posted in our box office and all staff will be informed accordingly. You will not be sold a ticket or permitted into the theatre or any other paying venues at 44 Long Street. Should you purchase a ticket through Computicket, you will still be prohibited from entering the theatre and you ticket costs will be instantly refunded in cash.

    We hope that you seriously take cognisance of this restriction and do not attempt to gain access to any productions.

    Please understand this is NOT a PERSONAL attack on you and we do not wish to turn this into a vendetta or strike up a series of communications between us – but is the one positive action that we, as Theatre Practitioners, can take to stop you attending performances at the NewSpace and prevent you from posting your poisonous Blogs on our productions, actors, directors, writers and designers and a way of protecting our source of income from your potentially destructive Blogs.

    Personal opinions and the right to freely express one’s self – are always welcome – But we will not tolerate this kind of personal, irresponsible, vindictive and destructive behaviour. It’s high time that we in the industry did something proactive to protect our artists and our livelihood.

    Regards
    Fred Abrahamse – Artistic Director NewSpace Theatre

    Marcel Meyer – Associate Director NewSpace Theatre

  4. Johann

    Jeez boys! As a gay man I find your comment on the blog completely ludicrous.
    There was absolutely nothing homophobic about it and everybody is entitled to their opinions. What’s next? An exclusive gay theatre where straights are unwelcome? Unless they just bow and praise, of course.
    Get real drama queens!

  5. Lynn

    Haai shame! Hopefully everyone concerned has got over themselves

  6. Taffy

    Wow, a bit of an overreaction on the part of Fred and Marcel, especially the homophobe part, but a good point nonetheless: it was unneccessary to slag Clayton and Stephen in that way. I think, after seeing the piece, that their performances were adequate and suited the roles they played. Clayton may have been a little unconvincing with his ‘angry’ emotions, but otherwise he was interesting to watch.

    I think that also your ideas about how they played their characters could also possibly be influenced by how the director of the piece had directed his performers to perform: an actor can only give as much as the director expects from them or suggests they bring out.

    Taffy.

  7. Matthew

    For what it’s worth, my flat mate and I caught a performance of the show last night. I found Megan’s critique far too kind. Sure, there were some clever aspects to the weaving of the storyline – the foreshadowing of the play’s end in the opening scene for instance – and the murderous ending was an unexpected shock. But we both found the male characters utterly flat, especially in juxtaposition to a stellar performance by Janet. I disagree with Megan – I found Andy’s character overdone, and the best of the boys was Leo by far. In general, however, the male dialogue was two-dimensional and cliché. Of course this is the fault of the writer and director as much as the actors. Then again, I should I expect too much for R65? Perhaps I’m just spoiled by too much good (but costly) American theatre at Yale and on Broadway?

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