Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Jaco Nothnagel

The Trouble with LIE

I have spent the last hour or so deciding whether to write about LIE, the play I saw last night, because it only has one more performance tonight. What made me decide to do it is that I have some strong advice for the writer, director and cast should the piece be performed again.

LIE is a Rust Co-Operative production, on at The Intimate. I missed their first offering, Expectant, last week but managed to catch their second, LIE. Here are the people. LIE is written, designed and directed by Philip Rademeyer, with Stefan Erasmus, Jaco Nothnagel and Danieyella Rodin. It is the (not terribly original) story of young gay runaway who becomes a street rent boy, married man’s lover and murder victim.

So, there were many, many things I liked about this production, but more that I didn’t, and I think that it has tons of potential, but it needs loads more work to make it successful, moving and fabulous.

It looked very beautiful to start with, and there were some deliciously lit, purely visual, gorgeous moments to look at. There were some beautiful sections of truly poetic writing, in fact I liked most of the writing, except for the fact that it was so overly repetitive. I get repetition, but it needs to be worked for, and earned. There were some amazing acting moments from all three of the performers, but mostly it was over acted, over emoted, over done really. And it was terribly over directed. Too much moving, too much blocking, too much shouting, too much slow motion. It was as if we weren’t really supposed to trust the text. I had this vision quite quickly into the piece, of how lovely it would be to just listen to the story, to watch the three actors (and characters) talk to each other, talk the story through, instead of stomp, crawl, lie, and move about all the time.

And then there were the tricky choices; the ones that told us exactly what to expect from the piece. Gay trannie boy in white undies (whose edges were endlessly grabbed and curled), fishnets and heels, with red lips. Obvious religious costumes (Mary blue and whites, fallen angel squashed wings, crown of thorns) doubly mentioned in the text with repetitious saviour, mother etc. Honestly, we get it. We understand. We know where you are coming from. But for me, the hardest thing was those damn drama school Equus stilt shoes that poor Danieyella had to manage. Dear gods of drama school costumes, please hide those damn Graeme Germont hell shoes away for the rest of eternity.

Trust people. Trust, Rust Co-Operative. Trust the text. Trust the idea and the intention. Trust the performers. A talented team doesn’t have to shove it down your throat as graphically as the one line in the play suggests.

between you & me

Tara Louise Notcutt is the second recipient of the Emerging Director’s Bursary, given out by The Theatre Arts Admin Collective, The Baxter Theatre and GIPCA (yow that’s a lot to get right!). It’s a great initiative, giving resources, space, salaries and budgets to a young director and cast to mount a production. So, last night was the first performance of a short run of her play between you & me at the Methodist Church in Obz.

I am a huge Tara fan after …miskien became one of my favourite plays of last year and maybe even ever. Tara won her Fleur du Cap award because of it. So I was very excited to see between you & me.

It is the simple story of girl meets boy, pretty young love, getting comfortable, losing each other, and splitting up, performed by Jaco Nothnagel and Tarn de Villiers. It is told in bits and pieces of conversation, dance, movement and monologue.

My first teeny problem is a personal one. The audience was split, with half on one side of the hall and the other facing them. It is really hard for me not to watch the faces on the other side and I find it the most distracting way to watch stuff. The set is lovely, with its centrepiece of a huge old church table around, under and on top of which all the action takes place. I loved the weird upsidedown lino with dictionary pages stuck to it, and the strange canopy from which errant petals escaped.

The play, and performances, left me with constantly mixed, constantly up and down feelings. The story itself is very much one we have seen before. In fact Amy Jeftha, the first recipient of the award, directed a play she had written called Interiors at the beginning of the year which felt very, very similar. But that’s ok, it means we all have something to relate to; the ups and downs of the journey of a relationship. It’s just here the characters are just not specific enough. They are so average I guess, which makes it hard for me to care much for them. They don’t really seem to have ‘characters’. There are beautifully crafted moments of dialogue, beautiful moments of extended movement, beautiful positions created across the huge space of the table and even beautiful silences; it’s just that they aren’t all strung together and  there is not beautiful stuff in between. Mainly the dancing, which I just don’t get. For me, singing and dancing must be done by singers and dancers, and I could get myself into big trouble here by saying that these two aren’t like professional dancers.

Both Jaco and Tarn have stuff that they do brilliantly. Jaco is particularly connected when he is looking for his English translations, and then his naturalism is spot on. Tarn has a super-intense gaze, and her little moments of irritation, hurt and sarcasm are excellent. My sense is that they need to bring more to the table (‘scuse the pathetic pun-like reference) from a character point of view. And here is another hard thing; sexual tension and magic. I saw them try. Really hard. But there isn’t much of that going on between these two and the audience is so close. I don’t know how to solve that one; it really requires a special kind of magic to believe in the relationship.

Other things I had mixed feelings about. I loved the soundtrack but not the sound system. I found Tarn’s costume the costume from hell; totally cute and sexy, and constantly terrifying because it looked like it was going to reveal her, or break.

There is no doubt that Tara is a going places young director and that this is a wonderful opportunity for her to explore her craft. Now Tara, you need to take it a step further and work on somebody else’s script or concept. You need the freedom to make bold, unselfconscious choices with other people’s ideas and words. I really look forward to more of your stuff, even though I didn’t absolutely love this one.

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