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LAND AHOY (article first published : 2005-06-19)

Put together some of the highly competent and talented male students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s drama studies department, let them loose on a new multi-layered piece of dramatic writing and you know you’re in for an interesting ride!

Land Ahoy is the second part of a double-bill that forms part of the Playhouse Company’s Hip Kulcha Festival, celebrating Youth Day.

The cast aboard the “Mary Jane” is made up of Marc Kay as The Captain, Sean De Klerk as Benjamin Aces; Adam Doré as Bobby Bones; Dylan Edy as Sixpenny Dan, Brett Kyle as Roger Harriot, Verne Rowin Munsamy as Crow and Clinton Small as Long Tom. All give consistent and sustained performances.

The programme notes explain the situation. I would like to suggest you don’t read them but rather let the dramatic process unravel with its twists and turns where being “on land is just a forgotten place”. These are not homeless people, their ship is their home. The scenario is explained by the “outsider within”, a musician who happens to wander into the action and has no option but to become part of it.

The stage setting is chaotic and resembles a rubbish dump more than a pirates’ galleon. A bicycle wheel forms the helm and the crow’s nest is based in a supermarket trolley. Rubber tyres abound and a plastic garbage container is put to dramatic use. The props list must read like a nightmare and includes everything from a cat o’ nine tails to the skull-and-crossbones flag. In Crow’s hoard of rubbish can be seen rubber soles, a dinky car, a stuffed cloth parrot and a telescope.

Are we at sea or not? The production itself certainly isn’t “at sea”. It’s a well-scripted piece by Dylan Edy and Marc Kay, skillfully directed by Tamar Meskin. As a new work, it obviously needs developing and exposure to audiences which is why this opportunity offered by the Playhouse is extremely valuable. I would like to see the underlying darkness developed more - the comedy will take care of itself. I found the Captain’s capitulation a little too pat but the ensuing final sequence is powerful and dramatic. With a cast of seven, it will struggle to survive on the commercial scene without funding and I would urge any sponsor to take look at its potential.

Unlike its partner piece in this double bill, In Love All By Myself, where the performers wear microphones, there is no need of such auditory help for these actors. Their vocal projection is excellent; in fact they could turn the level of energy down about 10%. This would enhance a sense of reality in an unreal situation. The Loft is an intimate space where a well-placed breath speaks volumes. The acoustics are good and the audience is close at hand, so introverted performances rather than extroverted ones work well.

Land Ahoy has a further performance as part of the Hip Kulcha double-bill tomorrow afternoon at 15h00. Tickets R20 for both productions. They are worth attending if you are interested in seeing new productions get off the ground. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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