Hoo boy, this is a hard one for me to write. The great thing about going to the Baxter on a weekend night is how full it is. People fight for parking, and the weird seventies style Jan Smuts airport building of the Baxter buzzes with audiences off to their varoius shows. Makes my heart warm. But then I so wish they were going to something good.
Now I have a feeling that I am a party pooper on this one. My friends had told me that this was a goodie and the reviews were mostly raves. But I just just didn’t get Truth in Translation.
The premise of the show, the TRC seen through the eyes of the interpreters, is not new. It has been the subject of plays, books and movies. Ok, so bursting into songs with lyrics like “They cut off his head” or “My daddy is dead” is quite new for me, but I’m not sure it had the desired effect. Not that the singing was bad; it was beautiful, I just have no idea what it was doing there. And even though I love the song, can a play be staged without Senze nina?
The storyline didn’t get me going either. We were fed bits and pieces of each of the interpreters – where they came from and their personal stories – but not enough to care about them. Perhaps focusing on one or two of them might have helped. For me, the result was that very drama school thing of everyone needing their moment to show their skills. Because Thembi got to play a victim, and she has an unbelievable voice, her monoloue/song was the only really moving thing and the only time I cared about what was happening on stage.
With the amazing, famous and talented cast I expected more. Not that the individual performances weren’t good. Nick Boraine and Thembi Mtshali can be singled out as excellent. It’s just everyone was good at what they were doing, which aside from moving around furniture, wasn’t a whole lot.
Needless to say, Big Friendly thought the thing had ended when the audience managed a smattering of applause at interval. Imagine his face when I told him we had to go back inside for another hour. Which was more of the same.
So, I must admit, the rousing standing ovation the audience gave at the end of the show came as a total surprise. Was it for the arch who was there with cameras in tow?