MARKO SVICEVIC UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in collaboration with UP’s Department of Residence Affairs and Accommoda...Read more
Kiu is a physical performance created by Mduduzi Nhlapo. The performance is 45 minutes long and depicts a dystopian world with a thirsty society, “Kiu” being the Swahili word for “thirst”. The story follows two characters, a man and a woman, as they transition from sanity to dysfunctionality and madness. Kiu expertly tells the story of people in a desperate situation, eliciting surprise and curiosity from the audience.
Kiu relies on the movement of the actors for the entirety for the play, as dialogue is used only when needed. Creating a performance that relies heavily on choreography and the synchronisation of the performers is very difficult to pull off, but the creator and the performers have put together a performance so inspiring and expertly executed that it is poetry in motion.
In the beginning there is darkness on stage, except for two spotlights on either side of a table that represents the only stability in the world which Jane Doe inhabits. A song plays on a loop, hinting at the madness to follow. The show starts with an introduction to the eponymous character through speech and movement. The Second Chapter of Jane Doe is a physical theatre piece that just doesn’t quite achieve what it hopes to.
A total of five actresses play Jane Doe and we are never sure who the real Jane Doe is, or if she exists at all. Each actress portrays a different aspect of Jane Doe – and perhaps a different neurosis. Chaos is cleverly crafted through the simultaneous descriptions of Jane Doe, and there are only a few facts we can be certain of: Jane Doe was born on 11 September, she is a Virgo, and she is afraid of 10 July. The reason for this fear is revealed later in the play and is shown to have resulted in her madness.
Despite this interesting mystery, the play unfortunately has a number of downsides: the carnivalesque music drowns out the dialogue in places, the larger than life psychiatrist has far too many costume changes, and the narrative on mental illness becomes preachy when it isn't relying on motifs from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Step up to fame is a sweet look at the dance films of the last four decades. With performances alluding to films such as Fame, Step Up and Take the Lead, the show promises an instant appeal to any fan of dance.
The performances canvas a wide variety of styles such as contemporary, hip-hop, musical theatre and Latin-American. The songs are familiar to the audience, which adds to the enjoyment factor.
Unfortunately though, as much as the idea is enjoyable, the show seems to be let down by two major factors. Firstly, the narration in-between different dances is lengthy and tedious. This leaves the audience impatient and weary after being delivered so much information. Secondly, the dancers do not appear entirely polished and, as most dances consist of large groups, the inconsistencies are more noticeable and this tends to be a distraction.
Plugged In is a physical theatre/dance piece performed by four students – two male and two female – from the University of Pretoria. This movement piece showcases some of the negative side effects of living in a technologically driven society through use of sound, lighting, choreography and some spoken word elements.
Using solos, duos and group dances, the performers depict different aspects of the negative impact of technology on individuals. Disconnection, cyber bullying and dependence on mobile devices are some of the themes depicted. The use of props in the production was interesting to see and effective in the storytelling. Bold lighting effects were also used to great effect and the choice of music enhanced and complimented the bold choreography.
The Coffin, directed by Reggie Goodwin and starring Dawn Ledbitter (John) and Jo-Ann McQuirk (Jane), is a quirky and clever drama. John and Jane are estranged family members who are reunited by “a death in the family”.
The characters do well to avoid the details of the deceased, focusing rather on questions of family, what has happened since they last met, and death itself. As the characters avoid the proverbial white elephant (or in this case, actual wooden coffin), it does little for their sanity, with the play dissolving into absurdity.
The play’s dialogue is intelligent and darkly comical at times, and both actresses deliver convincing performances. Interaction with the audience is also an element that adds to the play’s interest factor, as do the use of video projections, simple props and recurring motifs. The play utilises its venue well, with a good portion of the action happening “off stage” as the characters frequently exit to the unseen kitchen to make tea. The make-up and costuming, including the use of Marie Biscuits as a form of hair accessory, add to the eerie yet amusingly odd nature of the play.