Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: James McGregor

MedEia MedEia

A show I saw twice. A show I loved. Seeing it again was like listening to that album that you heard only once but loved, again. It was like watching a story you know well, and the inevitable ending, and seeing it play out, and remembering while watching.

Brett Bailey’s MedEia is beautiful, spectacle, style, sound and word. That’s the part I love the most. It is word music, word story, word image. I will write this how I saw the show. You know the story. I will tell you why I loved it.

I loved it because it was like watching/listening to Laurie Anderson tell/speak and I love Laurie Anderson. I loved it because it starts with flames and a cover of David Bowie’s Wild Is The Wind. My best David Bowie song. It has a sad sad song later on, when things go pear-shaped and people start hurting and dying, a song I know and don’t know the name of that I recognise from my own sadness even though I don’t understand the words, but it is the right song for me, and I love that song and its sadness. I loved those three black goddesses Indalo Stofile, Mbali Kgosidintsi and Namhla Chuka, in white who speak, and move, and send out woman emotion as the chorus, bound by beat, bound by word, bound because they are the helpless chorus, but powerful, powerful. I loved Faniswa Yisa as Medea, her voice, her crazy, simple, emotional everything. I loved Jason by James MacGregor who is the snake in the garden of Eden. I loved Apollo Ntshoko because his dancing made me ache. I loved Frank Paco who drums the soundtrack and heartbeat and brain freeze of the story and keeps it from going anywhere except the end. Mostly I loved this text, this  Oscar van Woensel collection of words in this way to tell this story, like this.

For sure this production is not for everybody. It is for the opposite of everybody. It is bold choices. It is style instead of outpouring. It is song lyric. It is mpepu and baby powder dust and black and white and inevitable. It will be lost on many. It will find some hearts. It is the most dangerous kind of theatre for this country because it isn’t made for us, or about us, but it tells a story of one of us, as woman, as stranger, as the one who stays in love.

Madame Touxflouwe

Said Too (or two) flower. It is a play, at Artscape’s Arena (still no ice at the bar), created and directed by Beren Belknap (who created and directed Out of Order). Madame Touxflouwe had its premier at Out The Box last year but last night was the first time I saw it.

This play has plenty of ingredients. It has a cast of strong and talented performers; James MacGregor, Johan Vermaak, Alex Halligey and Brendan Murray. It has excellent multimedia visuals and tricks. It has horror as a theme and one hellova lot of story. There is very delicious and lovely music. Put all these into a theatre blender and mix, and there should be a good slice of play on the table but there isn’t.

The idea is that there is a haunted house in which the same old ghoulish servants prepare a meal for the head haunt, Madame Touxflouwe, every night. She has them hooked into her story because she has been feeding on their memories (or something) and now there is the new guy who they want to make sure doesn’t leave so she can feed on his memories instead. There is so much story though, and so much exposition, it kinda gets in the way of the plot.

I kept on struggling to stay engaged, right from the very beginning. When we sat down James, as the terribly nervous  cleaner, was cleaning, and setting the table. And that’s how the show starts when the lights go down and come back on again. This sets the tone for an evening of endless repetition. I guess it has to do with the fact that everyone is dead, so they do the same thing every night. Only it’s quite hard for an audience to watch the same thing over and over again.

It’s the same thing with the characters; Henry (Johan) shouts and victimises, Vladimir (Brendan) moves between thug and simpering creep, and Tilly (Alex) is a silent, haunted waif. This is a great place to start but these characters don’t go anywhere. They don’t change in any way, and they don’t affect each other to change. It’s very hard to care about them. Then there is the dialogue, which is also drearily repetitive, with characters saying the exact same things over and over again. A bit like me, here.

I must confess, I started squirming about twenty minutes in. Which was not good because the show was an hour and a half long.

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