Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Baxter Theatre

Huge The Brothers Size

One sad moment (a cancelled TheatreSports show) meant I could get to The Baxter last night for The Brothers Size, and I am so glad I did. I must confess that I had been harbouring a nasty case of “Why does an overseas production get all the attention?” but I needed to check it out for myself. And (aside from the peanut gallery of Monday night audience cellphone, weird lady who hmm’ed at everything that was said and sweet obsessed group behind us) I am so totally delighted I experienced it.

The people. Written by Tarrel Alvin McCraney (who apparently wrote the script at the age of 23). Directed by Timothy Bond. Performed by Joshua Elijah Reece, Rodrick Covington and Sam Encarnación.

The Brothers Size is a small story about the relationship between two real brothers; the divergent paths their lives take because of their characters and circumstance, and the sacrifices they make for each other. Three young actors transform the space, take us into their world, and perform their hearts out, without losing a beat, without the tension flagging, without a muscle relaxing. These characters are right there for the audience to taste, smell and experience, and love.

This is a story told in poetry narration, dialogue, simple spoken stage direction, song, movement and light. Its rhythms are African drum, its heart is a Springsteen song, its body is an athlete, its emotions are all family and longing and nostalgia and heartache.

These actors are so good. They take their work damn seriously. They are gorgeous and committed and passionate, and fit and strong and focussed. And it is a pleasure to watch them in this work.

Most Magical Mhla Salamana (When our Eyes Met)

This will be the first time I ever write about a play that moved me to tears even though I hardly understood a word. Mhla Salamana is one of this year’s offerings at the Baxter Theatre’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival, directed by Thando Doni with Aphiwe Menziwa, Mkhuseli Tafane, Asanda Rilityana and with awesome acapela soundscape by  Muzik Sensation.

It tells the all too familiar story of how a beautiful relationship can go wrong, with misunderstanding leading to abuse and violence, and how children are so badly damaged by the friction of their parents. In this case it is how this story is told by the brilliant cast and musicians that makes it in turns hilarious, delightful, warm, clever, touching, chilling and shattering. I could not believe how deeply, profoundly affected I was as we all rose as one to give the cast a standing ovation. Storytelling, physical theatre and stylized movement heighten the content, but it is the characterisation and connection between the three characters that is absolutely superb.

Mhla Salamana was the only Zabalaza show I saw this festival, but if this doesn’t get a full run I don’t know what will. Brilliant, original, moving, totally exciting local theatre. Bravo Thando, Richard, Asanda, Aphiwe and Muzik Sensation.

Capturing Sanity

There is only this week left to see the GIPCA and Baxter Theatre’s emerging director’s bursary award production at The Theatre Arts Admin Collective. Of the four full productions that we saw this weekend I was the most impressed and satisfied with this one.

Capturing Sanity is devised work, directed by young Jozi director Pusetso Thibedi and his cast Thando Doni, Nieke Lombard and Richard Mkhuseli Tafane. It’s about three people who are in an institution, searching for sanity and what will make them ‘normal’ and functioning again.

Thibedi has done great things with this talented, committed and enthusiastic cast. It is obvious that they all trust each other and were able to push boundaries together. This means that there are many poignant, emotional, raw and touchingly funny moments that are shared with an audience, and the play drew me in. It was also delicious to see such accomplished performances from fresh performers.

Effective use of the very few lights in the Methodist Hall, good staging (except for the endless dragging around of the steps), simple design elements and costume all pulled the piece together in a very satisfying, unifying whole.

This production took a little too long to get started, but once it got going I was completely there with it, and I really, really enjoyed it.

Now here’s the deal. It is on every night this week at 1930. There is an extra matinee performance on Saturday. The tickets are so cheap you will not notice that you have paid. Please, make an effort to see this work. There is good talent. It’s a good story. It is young and fresh and interesting. And it will keep you thinking. To make a booking, please contact the Theatre Arts Admin Collective on 021 447 3683 or email artsadmin@mweb.co.za

 

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