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THE BLUE PERIOD OF MILTON VAN DER SPUY (article first published : 2007-01-21)

Greig Coetzee is well known to Durban audiences for the excellence of his past acts, and The Blue Period of Milton Van Der Spuy written and performed by him doesn't disappoint.

Appearing on the 2007 Musho! Festival, this is a gentle portrayal of a disabled artist with great humour and much pathos. He received a standing ovation - the only play I attended at the Festival to receive this.

The simple set has a door with a reproduction of the Mona Lisa on it, a macramé hanging with a bottle of water in it, a wire contraption hanging from the ceiling, a small stool with a vase containing very large sunflowers, a chair and a table. On the table are an avocado pear, a bowl of fruit, small replicas of the statues of David and Venus de Milo, a bottle of blue paint with a large paint brush in it, more paint brushes, and Rorschach test standard ink-blot cards. At the back, centre stage, is an easel with a flipchart on which Milton can paint.

Each and every one of these props figure in Greig Coetzee's monologue about his artistic aspirations, his parents and his 12 year-old younger sister, Mona Lisa van der Spuy. His head and one of his legs are bandaged and he wears a helmet and a back-pack. All these items similarly figure prominently in his narrative. He dwells a great deal on his "aesthetic sensitivity", "artistic suffering", "gravity" and many, many other aspects. His catch line "on account of my talents lying elsewhere" forms an integral part of the humour, and indeed the pathos, of the play and the performance. – Maurice Kort




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