I’ve just got home from the Baxter. I went to see iVirgin Boy and I’m so glad that Big Friendly had work to do and stayed home. This was not one for him, for sure. Now, I had all sorts of stuff around this play and I really wanted it to be brilliant…or at least good. It won the PANSA playwriting festival last year (and I had directed one of the playreading finalists in Cape Town), so I wanted it to be a good script. Then, I know Bruce Little and I think he is fabulous and talented, so I wanted this to be a brilliant showcase for him. Also, it was my second play this year and I wanted a goodie to cancel out the very big baddie of Romeo and Julio. And I paid for the Saturday night tickets and I didn’t want it to be a waste.
Now here comes my first pet hate. I HATE it when writers direct their own plays. I hate it for a lot of reasons. Number one, it feels to me that the writer thinks that nobody else will ‘geddit’ and do the piece justice. Number two, the writer then disses the special job of a director to interpret the script. Number three, the writer keeps telling the actors to do what he tells them he means. All of the above with iVirgin.
Ok, so the set was rubbish and even fell down. Ok, the lead character Alan Whitfield takes a ‘brand new’ suit out of tissue paper and a box and it’s been specially made for the character, but when he holds the pants up there’s some funny old gluey stuff on the one hem, and when he puts them on they’re three inches too short. Oh ja, and there was gratuitous nudity (which I’m usually ok with when it’s funny or something) in a message driven play. So all that wasn’t so good.
The performances. Bruce Little was amazing. Subtle, believable, empathetic, detailed, intelligent and absorbing. Pity he was in a vacuum of his own, most of the time, because of trite and inconstant dialogue in endless dreary confessional scenes with a ‘social worker’. The two other guys were good enough and their character work wasn’t too bad in the little they had to do. I did feel sorry for them during the graphic visualisation of the schoolboy moment though. Poor Denise Newman had very little to work with as the counsellor and even though she was on stage most of the time she was hardly present.
My biggest problem was that the production could have been so much better. It’s a great story; meaningful and very relevant, but it disintegrates into a lecture demonstration that offends. We KNOW why he was raped. We GODDIT the first time round.
Peter Krummeck, writer and director (and responsible for the set too, I heard), get outside help to make your play better.
I know it’s only play number two of the year, but it’s already not in the top ten. Askies iVirgin Boy, but Aikhona wena.