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.

4PLAY (article first published : 2001-03-20)

The man’s either mad or brilliant. Perhaps both. No actor in his right mind would attempt what Greig Coetzee is putting himself through at the moment. He says he’s in training for his 16th Comrades Marathon. Surely it would be easier to run barefoot over hot coals all the way up Polly Shorts and back again?

Why is this multi-award winning actor, playwright and director eliciting such vigorous response from this normally equable reviewer? Because he’s decided to perform all four of his one-man shows at once. Running at the University of Natal Durban’s Square Space Theatre during March is 4Play. This comprises his first play Tales from a Termite; White Men with Weapons which has won a mountain of awards and must surely be on the way to breaking some kind of Guinness Record; The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy, and Breasts … a Play about Men.

The thing about solo shows is that, even if you’ve written them, you’re completely on your own in front of an audience. No other cast member to cover and get you out of a jam if the lines suddenly go walkabout. Added to which, two of the productions are produced to minimal setting - Termite only has a single box. Milton at least has an easel which could be gazed at in rapt artistic contemplation while fumbling for a lost line if such a disaster were to occur.

Breasts played the Square Space over the Christmas period and the review will be found in Drama Archives. White Men With Weapons I’ve seen four times now and never fail to be impressed by Greig’s biting wit and acute observation skills. The play deserved to win two awards at last year’s Edinburgh Festival. This review can also be found in Drama Archives.

Tales from a Termite is a deliciously satirical 40-minute piece presented as a double bill with The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy. Through the time-honoured African style of oral story-telling, Greig pokes fun at gravy trains, immigrants and pretentious politicians. With help and advice from Aldo Brincat, he has created a barbed and entertaining mix of mime, speech and vocal dynamics.

The jewel in the crown of the four pieces – what Greig calls one of his more “special” children - is The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy. Directed by Garth Anderson, it’s about a young man who’s more than slightly mentally challenged. He would be a great philosopher, if only he could marshall his thoughts into a coherent whole. He might be a great inventor of aeroplanes except that he’s “struggling a bit with gravity”. He might be a great painter if he would ever put brush – or avocado pear - to canvas. And, sadder still, he might yet come to terms with the horrific circumstances of his sister’s death.

As Milton, Greig meanders through this gently moving piece, throwing out gems of thought with the nonchalance of someone scattering corn to chickens. For instance, “Renaissance is Latin for all-rounder”, “It was easier to paint people when God was alive” or “Shakespeare was very good at saying nice things when people died.”

With a leg in bandages leg after an unsuccessful attempt at flying, a helmet to stop his head from exploding, a backpack containing his makeshift pair of wings and too-big shorts that have to be hauled up continually, Milton is a pathetic but lovable soul. Lost in his own world where truth either becomes cloudy or he makes it so, perhaps he is the sane one and the rest of us unbalanced.

You should see all four shows in 4Play but if you can only do one, then make it this double bill. You won’t be sorry. Despite the poignant content of Milton, it is hilariously funny.

Greig’s week goes as follows: White Men with Weapons on Tuesdays at 19h30 and Sundays at 18h00; the double-bill Tales from a Termite/The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy on Wednesdays at 19h30, and Breasts – a Play about Men on Thursdays and Fridays at 19h30 and Saturdays at 18h00 and 20h30.

I’m surprised he remembers what planet he’s on, let alone which play he’s performing. All congratulations to him for a true marathon of the brain cells!

Tickets R42 with a season ticket for all shows R90 (R30 pensioners and students with ID). Book at the door or through Computicket. Credit cards call (031) 304-2753 or book at http://www.computicket.com More details about Greig Coetzee’s plays at www.termite.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
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart