I am getting a bit irritated with myself. When I set out to write this blog it was to vent my spleen, to write scathing reviews of shit Cape Town theatre, to complain and bitch blah blah blah. Tonight I have again come home with only good news.
Big Friendly and I went off to the opening night of Beethoven in Raptus, the first production in Artscape‘s new spring drama season. All the five plays have never been performed before.
I had misgivings about going tonight. I’m not crazy about theatre based on famous real people. I get bored. And then, I heard that the play was 2 hours long. I couldn’t even tell Big Friendly that part. He never would have agreed to go. We were so surprised.
The Arena theatre was transformed by a stark and stylized set, with a very raked stage and excellent depth of field, so the small stage felt huge.
The script was written by John Burch, who died in 1991 without ever seeing his play produced. I imagine that on paper the script might feel heavy, loaded and even boring and wordy. This production turns the script into a marvelous heart wrenching and absorbing drama. I have full respect for the director Arne Pohlmeier who has created a stylish and moving piece.
The performances are generally superb. Graham Weir, as Beethoven, gives an award winning performance. His physicality and energy is totally different from anything I’ve seen him do in the past. He fills the big Beethoven shoes completely. His emotional range is amazing and his intellectual grasp and portrayal of this deaf genius is totally believable and magical. Theresa Iglich as the Countess and Robyn Scott as Madam are also superb. Their performances are huge, satisfying and controlled. Less successful are the two youngest members of the cast. Roshina Ratnam has moments, but is a little stilted at times and Brendan Murray seems afraid of the role of Karl, Beethoven’s nephew. He is mainly disconnected; possibly because it is so hard to play a bit of a selfish bastard.
The two hours sped by and I wasn’t bored once. It was solid, traditional theatre, brilliantly performed and beautifully directed.
Let’s hope that this sets the standard for the rest of the season. Graham and my A Circus Side Story is the third one and opens on the 14 October.