By DIANE DE BEER
Authors: Sue Pam-Grant and DJ Grant
Lighting Design: Michael Maxwell
Director, Set and Costume Design: Sue Pam-GrantC
Cast: Chi Mhende, Theo Landey
Venue: Barney Simon @The Market Theatre
Show times: Tuesdays to Saturdays @ 8.15pm and Sunday @3.15pm
Dates: Until August 6
Sue-Pam Grant is one of those artists who constantly changes colours in the way she tells her stories and presents her work, whether in her paintings, artworks or on stage. That’s what makes her so intriguing.
It’s not only the stories she tells, it’s the way she tells them that becomes an artwork and with her latest version of Chasing Chairs (presented in 2002 at Sandton’s Theatre on the Square), it takes you back to one of her earliest works, Take the Floor where the communication was done through movement not words – most hilariously, yet still hitting all the message marks.
With this current version of Chasing Chairs, Pam -Grant has again got stuck into all the elements available to her as a multi-disciplinary artist. The set is like a painting, an empty white space, obviously a room, but with memory points that are used throughout the performance. There’s a window looking out with wallpaper and views, a changing panorama reflecting the worlds of the two characters, husband and wife, Simon (Landey) and Cat (Mhende), who are living a life and refiguring a relationship minute by minute.
There’s a lot going on and many different places you can lose yourself as you immerse your mind and soul in this transforming tableau.
If you’re a visual person, it’s a feast, from Cat’s outfit and headgear, the style and the colour, to the miniature and normal-sized chair doing a balancing act throughout or the sea change of the wallpaper around the window, a portal to the outside world and an emotional touchpoint for the viewer.
There’s also the dance and the music, Pam-Grant’s choice of text as the husband-and-wife team move in and out of step in a way that reflects their inner worlds, which all keep humming along quite deliciously.
It’s flighty yet furious with serious undertones, as those in relationships will recognise from the daily doggedness of matching two minds that can hopefully meet.
One’s obsession is another’s passion, and chasing chairs upsets the routine that a more rigid mind requires when reaching for stability that won’t rock his world, while the other embraces the chaos of constant change at a pace that keeps her heart racing.
Landey’s boyish demeanour suits the part as he and perfect partner in crime Mhende revel in the dance that explores their daily lives, their longings and explorations of a couple deeply in love yet battling to find an equilibrium that holds that delicate balance we all hope to achieve and then hold on to.
It’s fun to watch while grasping the intricacies of lives in search of a way to both breathe and blend while not bending to breaking point.
It was only in the last gasp that the wistfulness and whimsy of the performance and the text, which lightened what could have been a deeply distressing experience, was displaced with text that moved from shooting stars to a preciousness that jolts us into a reality that we already understood when explored with a playfulness that was joyous to watch.
Pam-Grant is an artist that keeps evolving and exploring the boundaries while unravelling her life in a way that is universal and touches ours deeply. Chasing Chairs is a love story that catches at the heart, elicits a smile throughout and underlines that while tough, fighting for that sentimental soul mate will encourage the flowers to bloom in explosive colour.
*It was sadly a short run, but watch out if it plays anywhere else.