I have woken up with a rage hangover this morning. I am still fuming about my night last night and I am not really sure where to even begin.
Let’s go with why I was motivated to start meganshead in the first place. I wanted to warn Capetonians about bad theatre (and cheer them on to see good stuff, it must be said). Now this one is particularly hard for me because of how I feel about The Kalk Bay Theatre. It is categorically my favourite theatre in Cape Town. It is independent, beautiful, brilliantly managed. It is where I love to see theatre and make theatre. I want the theatre to do brilliantly.
But now I need to say what I feel about the first half of the show that opened there last night, “What’s In a Name?”. And here is a warning; if you loved it, do not read further, because I am going to be saying some very harsh stuff.
Right up front, I was absolutely relieved to discover that there were two halves. This meant I could leave at interval without making a spectacle of myself. Everything I say will only be about the first hellish forty or so minutes, but I swear it is enough.
What’s In a Name is trying to be a cabaret(?) performed by Delray Burns and Roland Perold and directed by Garth Tavares, and apparently choreographed(?) by Delray. What it actually is is a completely random collection of ‘trying to be funny’ songs that have nothing to do with anything, including the meaningless title of the show. What it is trying to be is a showcase for two young performers (like a live showreel to offer what they can do), but what it becomes is a beyond irritating, badly sung, horribly characterised, cartoon version of itself. Hell on an audience, not in the least funny, and so badly done I was squirming in my love seat in the back row. Fifty Delray costume changes later (a light up bra being the only highlight, ‘scuse the pun), a hideous “lights up” audience participation section where I could not hide my disgust in the dark, a complete mafferation of two songs I usually think are quite clever, Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady and Coward’s Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage Mrs Worthington, and other tragic, inconsequential, murderously bad versions of other stuff (including Snoopy I think!), meant I had to escape.
I feel I need to explain here. I concede that there is often stuff that is “not my cup of tea”. I don’t get big, mainstream musicals. Yet, I can totally appreciate them (and have even loved one or two) when they are well done. It is true that a collection of random show tunes is not that cup of tea that I would choose to drink, but I am entirely capable of drinking it, and enjoying it, if it is just warm, sweet and well made. “What’s In a Name?” is not that cup.
I am going to lose friends here. Brand new followers of meganshead on twitter are going to be upset. Friends of the performers in the audience last night were “loving” the show, and even tweeted me about it. I am going to be branded a bitch. I am going to set myself up for the harshest criticism of my own work. I wrestled with whether I was going to do this at all. But when I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning and saw what a friend had inboxed me on facebook, and realised she felt the same, I felt I had to speak out. Sies. What’s In a Name? In this case, absolutely zero, zip, niks.
Then, on my drive home (just to put salt in my wounds) I happened to flick the radio on to 567. The minute I realised it was Kieno Kammies I should have switched to 5fm for some retarded pop, but I was negotiating Boyes Drive and didn’t change in time. The moron was introducing what was going to be his late night topic; a ‘scientific’ study where caged monkeys are going to be fattened up so said scientists can study obesity. Kieno thought this was a great idea because, and I quote, “have you seen the fat kids rolling around the lawns?”. I. Kid. You. Not. Kieno Kammies thinks that caging and force feeding monkeys (natural omnivores quite capable of maintaining their own healthy weight) and fattening them up is going to help us understand why children are obese. Maybe Kieno, they are obese because they are caged, overfed (usually with unhealthy processed crap that monkeys would never eat) by their parents, bored and under-exercised? I actually could not listen to him for one second more. I had fantasies of finding images of his own children, hoping they were as fat as houses, and then using them in my own experiments. The drive home from KBT is long when you are having these murderous thoughts while listening to Rehane singing …”sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but whips and chains excite me” as if she wrote those lines herself! Bah. Humbug.