A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

ONE FOR THE ROAD (article first published : 2007-03-10)

Topping off a rewarding week of good dramatic theatre was tonight’s first performance in the Playhouse Loft of the short run of One for the Road, Harold Pinter’s classic drama which takes the form of a frightening study of political torture.

It is set in the office of an arrogant whisky-drinking, cigarette smoking official who has in his custody a man, his wife and young son who are seen to be enemies of the state. He stalks his prey with smiling, deadly and underplayed malice, the psychological terror inflicted on his victims more frightening and oppressive that if he had taken a whip and lashed them into pulp.

The play is directed by talented upcoming director Pascar Dube and I saw his first production of One for the Road at the Stable Theatre in 2005 (see review at www.artsmart.co.za/drama/archive/1453.html) Naturally, the technical capacity of the Playhouse Loft offers for a vastly improved presentation and the intimate confines of this venue effectively brings the dramatic elements of the piece closer to the audience.

Reprising their roles as the manipulative and highly articulate Nicolas and the battered, tortured Victor are S’dumo Mtshali and Junior Ngidi. Jessica Jamison is Victor’s wife, Gila, and their son is played by 14 year-old Kuhle Pato, a young actor to watch. Siphiwe Madlala handles most of the horrific wordlessly brutal scenes that intersperse Nicolas’s monologue.

For monologue it is – all 50 or so demanding minutes - full of long reflective silences from Nicolas. This demands an intensive tour de force mood-changing performance from the actor otherwise it won’t hold the dramatic mood. Pinter has written virtually no dialogue for Victor and Gila. One gauges their terror, abject misery and depravation from their quivering bodies and Gila’s silent screams which are the result of repeated rapings.

As before, S’dumo Mtshali considerably impresses with a highly focused and utterly credible performance – down to the tweaking of his trouser leg as he perches on his desk and the impatient tapping of his finger or foot. He is further to be applauded as he had to contend with late-comers moving into the auditorium some 15 minutes into the play. This should not be allowed as the nature of the piece requires utmost concentration from its lead actor as well as from the audience. S’dumo barely fluttered an eyelash and continued calmly in his role but the disruption factor of such audience behaviour during a play such as this is, is as unnerving as placing an open sack of live snakes on the stage.

While originally set in an unnamed police state, Pascar has chosen to place his production in apartheid South Africa which imposes its own agenda and set of historical issues. The old South African flag stands furled behind Nicolas’s desk alongside a photograph of former president, PW Botha. I still think it would have been better to have kept the setting as Pinter intended, allowing the audience to make up their own minds as to where the play is set. The imagination is a very powerful tool.

Apart from latecomers, my other problem is that the otherwise effective set needs attention - particularly in terms of securing the cell structure. It makes a mockery of a highly dramatic rape scene when Gila is grabbing onto bars that are clattering away, clearly fragile enough to be broken through with a little force. Do try to see the play, anyway, although it only has two more performances. It’s an excellent production.

One for the Road runs in the Playhouse Loft until tomorrow (March 11). Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart