DIANE DE BEER
UIT DIE BLOUTE
DIRECTOR: Henriëtta Gryffenberg
CAST: Paul du Toit (actor), Jenna Dunster (actress), Leon Ecroignard (bass guitar), Jahn Beukes (percussion), Lizanne Barnard (keyboard), Pyjama Shark (acoustic and electric guitar)
TEXT: Adapted from two Eugène Marais stories
MUSIC: Lizanne Barnard
CHOREOGRAPHY: Ignatius van Heerden
PLACE: Atterbury Theatre, Pretoria
This latest production reminds those of us who saw the original show just why it is such a special production. It’s innovative, playful, imaginative, dramatic and as a bonus, has a sensational soundtrack.
It also has a warm heartbeat at its centre. Du Toit and Dunster are two young actors who might not have been the obvious choice and that especially makes it exciting. It’s about the unexpected which suits the piece.
With a text magnificently adapted from Marais’s much-loved Die Lied van die Reën and Salas Y Gomez, an unusual story of struggle for what is precious to you, this is a performance that is delightful in its presentation of both the remarkable words and the addictive music.
The music/percussion sets the tone with its African slant which also bleeds into the percussive use of emotions from a knock at the door to a sudden movement exaggerated by clever use of a rhythm or a beat. This group of musicians is something special, starting with Barnard who has taken her compositions of 11 Marais poems and contemporised them with African and sounds and rhythms, so perfectly suited to the Marais words in both the poetry and the storytelling. She has also done three new compositions for Skoppensboer, Dieprivier and Eonone.
Bringing much of this to life is percussion genius Beukes with the help of the wacky Ecroignard, who adds to the depth and playfulness with the contemporary edge of the production pushed brilliantly by Barnard on keyboards and Shark on acoustic and electric guitar. They build a musical landscape that holds the production while adding detail while brightly colouring the edges. Then there are the songs beautifully interpreted and sung by Barnard with the depth of male voices introducing even more texture. I’m hoping for a CD.
Telling the stories, Du Toit and Dunster are energetic and enthusiastic as they embrace the performance gymnastics with gusto. It’s never easy when you have such a rich text to combine that with clever choreography, all of which has to unfold seamlessly to make it work.
But they do and it is the combo that turns this into compelling theatre with the two actors creating a comfortable rapport as they move between two quite different tales in both approach and dramatics – and they never lose sight of the text. There’s a wide-eyed deliciousness in Dunster’s performance while Du Toit goes full tilt, especially when in a persona more peculiar than his regular routines.
They get it right in a production which has put emphasis on the playfulness to balance the more serious tone as the second story unfolds.
Gryffenberg has pushed the performances and has been rewarded with a production that has everyone on and off stage engaged and entertained. It reminds one of the escapism offered by good theatre, in a way that doesn’t ignore quality and never opts for the lowest common denominator. It’s simply the best.
It’s the full package: starting with a good text, sublime storytelling and a cast of players, musical and dramatic, who can deliver and unwrap this gift they have been handed in spectacular fashion.
US Woordfees March 6 (12.30) and March 8 (8pm), 21, 22, 23, 24 March at KKNK, 15-19 April at Oppiewater Arts Festival