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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Three quick reviews

Jono’s brother, Nick, came up to stay with us over the weekend and we took in a bit of the fest. It was the first weekend and many of the plays where doing cheap previews and the Fringe website was running a 2 for 1 special on several plays, so we managed to see loads of things for half, and sometimes a third off. Not that I managed to keep costs down –with all the booze and eating out that we did – but it was a fantastic weekend. I’ve even forgiven Nick for leaving his yucky germs all over my flat and for giving me the cough I’ve had this week.

Anyway, here are a few words on the best stuff we saw:

Truth in Translation:

This play is FIERCE! Sure, I’m a home sick South African. Yes, I am an actors’ favourite audience (with my permanent suspense of disbelief), and as Nick put it, I was in tears from the first bongo, but don’t let me being a total sap put you off.

This play should be compulsory viewing for all South Africans. I hereby add it to the syllabus along with Kani’s Nothing but the Truth. The triumph of this piece is down to three things it gets right: music by Hugh Masekela, a solid and challenging script – directly informed by interviews with TRC translators, and superb unflinching performances.

I can’t say anything bad about it.

Belly of a Drunken Piano – a Tom Waits tribute:

It is what it says it is, and a little more. I know and enjoy Tom Waits, but would not describe myself as a die hard fan, Nick (who is) tells me the performer flubbed a few lines, but we both agreed – if you’d told me it was the real thing I would have believed you – the music was excellent and the character performance lovingly achieved. We went to a midnight show in the ballroom venue at Assembly on George Street, which really was the perfect timing and venue for this show. Now if only he’d sunk “Little Drop of Poison”, it would have got full marks.

Exits and Entrances - the new Athol Fugard:

This is a semi-biographical new offering from Fugard, which came to Edinburgh straight from its’ New York premiere – I believe – and is, simply put, another great play. I am a fan and not a critic, so I enjoyed what felt like a glimpse at a real life exposed on stage, although the encounters depicted are exciting and revealing not only because of the fact that they happened to the playwright.

The downside to this is small and probably petty, but I am going to put it out there nonetheless because Jono, Nick and I all felt it was a problem: The two actors are both American and while one got the South African accent pretty well, the other was painfully bad. He oscillated between American and Australian most of the time, and his few Afrikaans words were unintelligible. Not that this would be a problem if you weren’t a Saffa, but we were and it wouldn’t be accepted by a Saffa audience – they’d need to recast that part or pay a very good voice coach. Still, good play…


Hollywoodgal said...

Hey Katie -

My feelings EXACTLY when I saw the world premiere of Exits & Entrances in LA a while back. I had a quick chat to them after the show - neither of them had ever visited SA and while that's not a requirement to perform a play, I think perhaps listening to South Africans speak should be! Here's my post about it. I wonder if it's still the same duo?
exits & entrances

Thanks for the heads up about Truth in Translation!

Katie Possum said...

hey hollywoodgal!
I read your post and, as you said above, we totally agree!! the accent was worse than the Saffa bad guys in leathal weapon 3 - and that's bad :)
I hope those two arent planning on taking that accent to South Africa to tour.