Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Alexander Upstairs

Bianca does Lola

I don’t think I have ever written about a show twice before. Since starting to write for Weekend Special I have let my review style pieces live there officially and I have used meganshead to mouth off on other things. But, last night I went to see An Evening with Lola, a cabaret created and performed by my NBF, ninja and heroine, Bianca Flanders, and I felt inspired to write about it twice.

This isn’t going to be a ‘review’, but it is going to be an indulgence in the talents of my friend. And it is going to be an encouragement for Capetonians who read my blog to get their shit together to book and go this week, because that’s all there is (this time around). It’s at my favourite, The Alexander.

So Bianca and her director Iman Isaacs birthed the show because of their situation at the time – two talented but out of work actresses waiting for their next gig. To be fair, I think that neither of them had any idea how busy they would end up being. They have both squeezed this run between all their other amazing projects.

This show is such a delight because Bianca is absolutely everything a cabaret performer needs to be. She is a bombshell in her red catsuit and big hair (think Donna Summer), she is a true comic with exceptional timing, her voice is utterly amazing from kick ass belting it out, to sultry crooning, and she has the most delicious and intimate rapport with her audience, including the sap she warned she would pick on for the rest of the night. She reminded me of a young Eartha Kitt, and this made me very, very happy. I love Eartha Kitt.

But there is a subtle thing going on here with Lola, that had me thinking again this morning, and it is a real achievement. Bianca and Iman have been able to be subtly, slitheringly political, in a ‘it creeps up on you’ kind of way. It is the best kind of political. No slap in the face, no toy-toy’ing and flames. But a gentle, consistent reminder that certain things are certain ways and that it isn’t altogether kosher.

There are tons of in-house actor jokes, but the audience of non actors were collapsed in their seats from laughing, so I don’t think the jokes are exclusive. And Bianca’s throw-away lines get some of the biggest laughs.

Go and see the range of what this young dynamo is capable of.

 

The Frontiersmen

I knew we were in for it when we walked through the door. The safe, sexy black box of Alexander Upstairs looked like it had been trashed, stripped and left hollow. The dim light of dusk was slipping through the very office like blind. It looked nasty, but that was nothing. When Yuri and Shane entered the space in white suits drenched in blood and the first thing that happened was a toxic release in the corner… I had no illusions about how hard core it was going to get. Still I was shocked. Still I found it hard to swallow.

Louis Viljoen has written a savage little drama that is unbearably bleak, witty, hideous and terrifying. I am scared about the shit that is in his head. If this is really the world we inhabit then I am a naive bunny hippy. Shit on toast! Greg Karvellas directs the most outstanding performances from Mark Elderkin and Nicholas Pauling. I have to admit it was a lot like seeing a particularly gruesome accident and being fascinated by it. No, I did not enjoy it, but yes, I thought it was rather brilliant. (I thought it was much, much better than Champ.) I had no idea that property developers were that far gone, but I should have known.

I see Mamet, Sarah Kane, Tarrantino, Berkoff influences here, only Louis takes it all to new extremes. Brilliant and hectic dialogue, intense monologues and radical ideas. You need to have the stomach for it, and I’m not sure I do. My breakfast is sitting uncomfortably this morning. Still, I think it was pretty amazing.

Apparently a regular Alexander patron wanted to cancel all his future bookings after seeing it. I had an old couple sitting in front of me last night and I was occasionally embarrassed that we were sharing the space. The Frontiersmen. Not for sissies.

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