Going to the opening of Rose Red at The Kalk Bay Theatre with my delicious theatre friend who is visiting was the best fun. It was a shmooze fest before and after, and we loved, loved, loved it (and I did have more than one glass of red myself. Just saying.)
And I loved this strange and wonderful story with songs. Rose Red is a monologue, written and performed by Dianne Simpson, accompanied by live pianist and MD Dawid Boverhoff, and directed by Pieter Bosch Botha. It is the story of Snow White, told from the perspective of the evil step-mom, the queen.
Pieter has transformed the stage at KBT into a dark and gloomy little cottage, exposing the gorgeous stone wall at the back and filling the floor with dry leaves, teeny stools for the dwarves and other bits of furniture that looks dusty and untouched. This sets the scene for the ghost of the evil queen to come and speak to us, mirror and all. It’s a layered, modern and complicated tale.
Dianne Simpson is amazing. She comes on in wicked fairytale clothes and make-up and tight and crooked upper lip. She looks like wired-up wickedness. Then through story and song (weird, well known songs, turned on their heads to fit her style and mood, including Tori Amos, Lady Gaga and Annie Lennox) and simple, beautiful piano music we start to understand the complicated dynamics, the feminist yearnings and the misunderstood actions of this traditional villain.
I have always thought that Snow White was a bit of a wimp. I was quite comfortable going with this complicated woman’s version. Her crazy upbringing, her rags-to-riches, her insecurities and need to be seen and loved. I was caught up from beginning to end. It was so refreshing seeing performers I don’t know (everyone is from Jozi, but Pieter is going to be making Cape Town his new home) being directed by some fresh new director whose work I have never seen. New ideas, new theatrical solutions, new excitements. I love theatre. And this is a great example. I swayed to my feet for a rousing ovation at the end.