I’ve just come back from opening evening of Library, the final production in Artscape’s Season of New Writing. The script is by Juliet Jenkin, whose first play The Boy Who Fell from the Roof premiered at the first season two years ago and has gone on tour all over to much acclaim and a few awards, I’m told.
The play is set in, wait for it, a…library. And it’s about the three people who work there and two of their clients/lenders or whatever they are. It’s a bit of light lust, laughter and literacy with some cute and corny jokes.
Library is directed by Francesco Nassimbeni, who played The Boy in The Boy Who Fell (if I have to type that again I’m doing TBWFFTR), and sadly, that was the first mistake. The script is a bit of cute fluff, with lots of one-liners that frame a sweet but trivial plot. In terms of direction it should be character-driven, tight, technical comedy that happens at breakneck speed, not giving the audience a chance to see the holes. I suppose, in fairness, there isn’t really enough script for that; this version lasted just under an hour. Now, I don’t know Frankie, but I’m guessing that he just doesn’t have the necessary experience to handle that kind of technical comedy. So, give it to someone who does, and they can then do the script more justice. I mean, it is the Season of New Writing!
The cast was ok and everyone had their moments, some more than others, but I’m convinced that the same cast would have risen to the occasion more with a firmer hand. Adrienne Pierce, who was the mom in TBWFFTR, was physically very funny, Jennifer Aldridge and Eben Genis had funny and sweet moments, but the performances didn’t gel and there was very little magic.
There were a few lovely things, like the coloured books on the bookshelves and the The Smiths song at the end, but, to be honest, the opening night soup and vetkoek from the mama from Langa was my highlight.