‘Visiting Mr Green’, currently onstage at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square has been getting such rave reviews that Daphne Kuhn has added an extra (final) show – Sunday 10 June, 3pm.
This exceptional production features superb performances from both Michael Richard and Roberto Pombo. It’s most ably directed by Alan Swerdlow with a set designed by Denis Hutchinson, that will instantly transport you into the typical realms of a Manhattan inhabited by those who still maintain their own little corner of Eastern Europe … in America.
Be prepared to run a gamut of emotions as you enter the home and heart of elderly Mr Green, struggling to come to terms with facing life without his beloved soulmate. He’s alone with his fading memories until young, sassy executive, Ross Gardiner unexpectedly shows up, tasked with spending time with Green as community service in return for almost knocking him over!
Together they manage to navigate the choppy waters of what it means to be alone in modern Manhattan, dealing with the judgment, intolerance and narrow-mindedness of others, about all manner of matters. And surprisingly they realise they have a lot to learn from each other, as well as a lot to share.
Visiting Mr Green is absolutely unmissable! It is heartwarming in a way that many modern scripts just aren’t. This year it celebrates its 20th anniversary!
Book through Computicket or by calling the theatre in 011 883 8606.
Filicide – The deliberate act of a parent killing his or her child.
SMA – Spinal Muscular Atrophy
In April 2014, the media was in a frenzy over the case of a South-African born mother, residing in England who killed her three severely disabled children. We watched as the story unfolded, riveted, horrified, saddened and bewildered. We discussed, we pondered, we wondered … how does a parent, a mother no less, cut short the life of her own child? It’s unthinkable, surely? What frame of mind must she be in? What horrors must she have endured? What depths must she have plundered? What precipice must she eventually have reached?
Not once do I remember anyone considering the ridiculous notion that maybe, just maybe, given the choice, those children might have chosen to live. Despite their obvious challenges, the numerous obstacles they’d undoubtedly face throughout their lives, what if they actually possessed the strength of character to surprise us all and overcome all of these? Well it’s a moot point isn’t it, because that choice was stolen from them; their lives snuffed out by the very person who was meant to protect them above all else: their mother.
And this is where theatre becomes the perfect conduit for abstract narrative. Based on the events described above, Eva Mazza has created Acceptance, a piece that demands we listen to the voices of the child victims of filicide.
Legendary South African actor Jerry Mofokeng plays the judge, trying to get a decent night’s sleep after the ‘manslaughter’ case he’s just closed on a mother who’s killed her three ‘severely disabled children’ which is how they were referred to throughout the proceedings, and never identified by name, hence never individualised. He’s woken by a loud knock at the door and so begins his surreal journey into an alternative trial, where he’s forced to hear the opinions of three personalities who it seems he did not acknowledge in the trial he’s just concluded.
The use of a stalwart actor like Mofokeng together with three young talents works well in this raw and riveting drama. Lea Viver, Francois Viljoen and Lisa Derryn Overy each display the complex individuality of who their characters could have developed into, had they been given the opportunity to do so, without overplaying their roles. In doing so, they all equally excel at the right to life argument, despite the disabilities that may exist. Presenting the judge with a book of facts to accompany their emotional case, they cite genuine sources from the actual original case, and instances of SMA, where children diagnosed with the condition have lived into their 50’s. This is combined with the use of visual projection, which I felt could have been put to far better use and effect.
Although the objective here is to portray the child victims’ perspective, Lisa Derryn Overy does briefly alternate in the role as the mother. While she re-enacts the reading of a (genuine) letter written to her husband during the actual killing of her children, imagined from opposing viewpoints, I thought it over-dramatic and completely over the top. But immediately realised that I had taken such a huge step back from this woman (as was the intention, when taking the children’s standpoint) that I was looking at her with a far too detached attitude! Of course she was being over-dramatic – she was hysterical, in the midst of such unimaginable horror! So well done to you Lisa, for shocking the audience back into the moment, and the realisation of the deplorable event that took place.
Make no mistake, this production will shock and disturb audiences on various levels. Ultimately though, the intention is to provoke discussion, and more profound reflection of what is generally considered a taboo topic: filicide, and indubitably this is exactly what it does.
Please do take a few minutes to look at the chilling photo gallery downstairs, either before or after the show. It really does add weight to the message that’s being conveyed here.
ALL PHOTO CREDITS: MARIOLA BELA
I firmly believe that Nataniël is a national treasure who should be nurtured and cherished like the priceless gem that he is!
After admiring him from afar for so long, I finally went to see him onstage in his previous show After Animals, and I was transported to another realm of Nataniël’s own creation. He is a true genius, and I was so thrilled when the show deservedly received numerous Naledi awards earlier this year, including awards for Best Costume Design, Best Score and Best Lighting.
So I’m pretty elated (actually that’s a bit of an understatement) that his much anticipated new show is opening in Johannesburg in the not too distant future, and that I’m able to bring you all the details right here, after receiving the press release earlier today …
Multitalented stalwart of the South African entertainment industry for over two decades, Nataniël is more than just a producer, director, designer, playwright, public speaker and performer – he is a true icon of stage and screen. Nataniël will return to the Theatre of Marcellus stage at Emperors Palace with a new stage production, MANNEQUIN, from 18 August to 25 September 2016. (There will be a week of previews from 18 August, with the show opening officially on 25 August and runs until 25 September 2016.)
The production tells the story of an author who toys with the idea of writing a book about the life of a reclusive tailor. MANNEQUIN is the story told by his tailor. A tale of surprise, fear, cruelty, humour, truth and fantasy. The show will not only feature original music, but also Nataniël’s surprise versions of a few of the world’s best known songs from the late sixties and the eighties.
Nataniël will share the stage with long-time fellow musicians Charl du Plessis (keyboards), Juan Oosthuizen (guitars), Werner Spies (bass), Hugo Radyn (drums) and favourite singers Nicolaas Swart and Dihan Slabbert. This show, structured around stories told in both English and Afrikaans, is about visual beauty and tailoring, and features an astounding collection of new costumes by the multi award-winning designer, Floris Louw.
MANNEQUINN, set to captivate audiences with its masterful blend of music, storytelling and breathtaking costumes, will be performed from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 20h00, and on Sunday afternoons at 15h00. Tickets start from R160 per person and can be booked through the Emperors Palace Box Office on 011 928 1297/1213, or by visiting www.emperorspalace.com or Computicket. Winners Circle members qualify for discount.
There is an age restriction of No Under 15’s and the show is 90 minutes in duration with no interval.
Emperors Palace is a Peermont resort. Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @emperorspalace.