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 theÂ 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 Â 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.