I don’t know how to write this to make you go. I don’t know which words to use to explain why I started crying last night during the opening of Big Girl at The Intimate Theatre, written and directed by Juliet Jenkin and performed by Daneel van der Walt, and why I couldn’t stop. And even now, thinking about it, I am feeling that familiar prickling. Is it because I haven’t slept properly (the puppies are a force of anti-sleep) and I am anxious about certain work stuff?
Or is it because this one-woman-show about Sylvia Smorkel is an extraordinary feat? This beautifully written piece is whimsical, harrowing, hilarious, cute and totally powerful, and it needs someone exactly like Daneel van der Walt to pull it off. She is unbelievable. She reaffirms her position in my list of top three actresses in Cape Town.
To be honest, I am not often comfortable with the portrayal of this subject matter on stage (I won’t spell it out here and be a spoiler) but it comes upon you so creepily, sideways-ish that by the time you are in it you are taken and Sylvia has moved inside you and is squeezing you from the inside and forcing rivers of tears out of your eyes. There is something so extraordinary, unusual and original about a girl getting bigger and stronger after doing some bad stuff. Usually women are victims and they get smaller after every moment that makes them prey.
So, for all the reasons this story is a little hard to believe, it is the easiest to believe, because of the tree, because of the atlas, because of this person who, even though she says it about lots of other things, is the saddest thing.
I am begging you to go and see this beautiful work. It will change you.