Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Extraordinary Pictures of You

 goodpic I braved the outrageous storm to get to FTH:K’s Pictures of You that had two shows on this evening. The showings formed part of the Out the Box festival on this week at the Little Theatre Complex. There was a bit of irritating confusion with the tickets (I didn’t know that the Computicket Box Office was in the Little Theatre foyer and there was no signage about that) and then quite a few performers in other shows got free access to the small venue without waiting for paying patrons to be seated. I rejected an offer to sit on the floor (thank the gods! I would never have managed; the show was over an hour and it was freezing.) And then the lights went out and the show began.

Pictures of You is a wordless performance, detailing the troubled relationship between a strange married couple. Liesl de Kok and Dorian Burstein are directed by Rob Murray with puppets (and masks I imagine too) by Janni Younge and sound by James Webb.

I found the whole experience intense, riveting and totally disturbing. Liesl and Dorian were absolutely incredible, physically realising the characters with such precision and detail that, even with huge unmoving masks, they were incredibly moving. Rob has directed them with vision and the quirky and surreal set (that was slightly cumbersome at times) was beautiful and strange, as was James Webb’s soundscape.

I loved the relationship between the characters. I loved the tea ritual. I loved their bed. I loved his drunk vision, especially the moving water in the picture. I loved the creepy puppet. I loved the on again off again flickering lights. I loved the sentimental songs and the strange and eerie florescent light sounds. I loved the strange little door that the puppet bride came out of. I loved the masks which made me feel so sad. I felt like I was watching a different Triplets of Belleville (which I love).

So, for me, the biggest problem was that I tried my hardest but I didn’t understand what was going on. Was the puppet a dream, a fantasy, a ghost, a past memory, a vision of a different wife? Was he dreaming, trapped in memory, haunted? Did he kill somebody for real? What was the chest and the key? What was the story of the rope? Why did the ghost bride lose her head? I was desperate to know what was happening and my confusion pulled me out of the action a bit. And then I started becoming aware of who was doing what backstage and how it was all working. But that didn’t last. I was sucked in to this strange world of sadness and longing and the most fragile of moments. And it was extraordinary.

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6 Comments

  1. ugli bob

    Hey Megan, shot for coming to watch our little show…and also for a great blog write up! Sorry ’bout the ticket fuck up – it was really crazy stuck at the back watching events unfold and being mostly powerless to do anything about it. Sounds crazy to bitch about it, cos everyone needs an audience, but it don’t look cool to appear to be a shambles.

    As to other comments, well – the questions you ask are spot on, and we did set out to make the piece as a big mystery, a puzzle. This is not to defend them, and act in a “oh it can really mean what you want it to”, cos that can be cheating. The point, after all, is to pass the parcel. To mystify, for sure, but also to leave enough strings and clues for an audience to tie the together and create a whole package for themselves. That part of things we’re still always developing, because to leave an audience totally bewildered is not the point, and would just frustrate people.

    For interest’s sake, has some kind of whole or package emerged for you? Or is it still too all over the place?

    Thanks for coming out in such miserable weather!

  2. megan

    Hey Ugli Bob
    I must confess; I am remembering the things I loved more than the things I didn’t understand, which is good. In terms of the package, I don’t get a whole cos when I think of one thing, another doesn’t fit. Like, if she was in his head, why the real box and key? So, it’s very complicated.
    I hope you see from what I said how much I loved it though, and how much I surrendered to it.

  3. ugli bob

    Absolutely…it’s very complicated. The show itself has been such a beast that we’ve tried to shape and push in certain directions, and bam! She’s off again…doing her own thing. We had to call it at some point, just before Grahamstown, and go: OK, for us, what is going on? What story are WE gonna play…cos we needed to play something that we could hang onto. Knowing full well of course that that immediately was going to limit something, and frustrate some people, ourselves not excluded. To date it has been such an amazingly interesting journey, and it ain’t over yet, so we have been blessed by all reactions, and intrigued by what people make of it and how.

    It’s a process, which it can only be, because we didn’t have a closed script to begin with, but are finding it out every time we play it.

    That’s not to say we’re guessing…or totally clueless…’course not! But it is such a fragile beast that we have fallen in love with and are getting to know over time. Come good comments, come bad comments…ees OK. Point is, come comments. How else could we hope to grow?

    The fact that you loved it, and many people loved it, and Grahamstown talked about it, and festivals are picking us up…these are all awesomely cool and we are privileged in such company. Long may it continue and long may it grow.

    And “surrended”…wow…that’s a cool thing to say, shot. What has been perhaps most gratifying throughout the whole of the journey so far, is the way that theatre makers, actors, writers, peers, competition, colleagues, and other fiends have responded. All constructive, and we have a wealth of support and ideas to drive us into the future…and so we shall. Yeah.

  4. ugli bob

    Masks indeed by Janni Younge, by the by. She is a genius! So is James! We were so fortunate to work with them.

  5. liezl de kock

    thank you for your awesome feedback megan! as Rob said, she’s a strange beast and can absorb almost anything. My family watched it and the debate kept us up all night, lots of valuable contructive crit and bizarre interpretations. she’s definitely growing legs under that funny skirt of hers, cant wait to see where she goes next. Thanx for all the love!

  6. megan

    Liesl, you keep it up. You were phenomenal!

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