Joburg Reviews Rolling Out…

So, we had our first preview last night (and more needs to be said about how awesome the whole event – pre-show, show, and Q&A – was), but today also heralds the beginning of the reviews coming out…

This one by Brian Trudgeon – originally posted here. Check out his blog on local theatre, happenings, food fests, eateries and watering holes: http://ontheplanks.co.za/

Respect and thank you, Brian.

You get theatre and then you get theatre. This is top drawer stuff. A Conspiracy of Clowns has hit it out of the park with Crazy in Love

Theatre is so diverse in nature that one is hard pressed to find a yardstick to measure it by. First I feel it must be entertaining. It must take you on a journey of escapism. Bonus points have to be awarded if it is provocative, and touches you emotionally. This production has it all in spades.

Crazy in Love takes you on a roller coaster journey, running a full gambit of emotions. At its beginnings it is laced with humour, and slowly spirals into an abyss, that is dark and sombre and leaves you reeling at its end. A sacrifice made. It was an incredible journey that had my heart pounding, and arms flecked with Goosebumps when the stage went dark.

The simple synopsis tells of a man (Leon) whose bride runs out on him leaving him holding the Baby (Ginny). Ginny grows up traveling with Leon in constant pursuit of her mother. Somehow she is never around that next corner. They never quite catch up to her, the interplay of longing and seeking.

We witness Leon’s disintegration into alcoholism, touched by the madness of love. His body covered in tattoos, as a testament to his love and madness. We witness Ginny who has perhaps a rose coloured view of the mother she does not know, reach adolescence. Her relationship with her mother is one constituted of a small shrine to her mom and the drunken recall of Leon. As she grows she yearns for independence. She is the child in an oft parental roll, taking care of her ever more despairing father.

There are so many human stories told in this piece that the audience can identify with. Love, betrayal, regret, the alcoholic parent, the catharsis of ink and the heavy emotional baggage we carry. It is all that and so much more. One does not go see this production, one experiences it. It is a masterpiece of storytelling that does incredible homage to it’s inspirations, yet it stands totally on its own as a remarkable work.

To speak of the Cast, Leon played by Andrew Buckland, left me in awe. My first encounter with Andrew, dates to the late 1980’s when a politically astute teacher took us to watch The Ugly Noo Noo. I don’t recall but I suspect it was at the Market Theatre. The same teacher also introduced us to, “Kippies”. Andrew truly is a master and  chameleon on stage, diverse, and completely engaging. He makes it easy to forget you are looking at a stage and not looking directly into a diorama of actual life.

Liezl De Kock plays as Ginny and gives a stellar performance. Liezl so beautifully portrays a child who has had to grow up too soon. She is the responsible adult, and is still childlike, in her fairy-tale imaginings of her mom at the altar she made. That altar is her confidant. You can feel that she wants the approval of her absent mother. She is also an adolescent with an awaking sexuality seeking guidance. The ease with which Liezl moves between these roles, the ones of her hard life and the ones of imagined construct are superb.

That Andrew and Liezl have both won many accolades for their theatrical work is no surprise. As a duo on stage their performance was electrifying. Theatrical greatness at it’s best. Bravo!

One must give a big salute to Rob Murray who directed Crazy in Love and created the lighting for the production. What a superb job. South Africa is a richer place for minds like his.  His work is oft described as ground breaking and one can see why. He has honed this production into a truly special piece.

A special mention must be made of Jayne Batzofin, who helped bring the production to life with her incredible design work on stage. The trolley that travels with Leon and Ginny is an artisan masterpiece. To reflect both the weight of the subject matter, the horror of life, childlike whimsy and a place to stay in a single prop full of surprises….. I cannot actually say enough about the design genius. The dancing shoes are a special and delightful element. You have to see it to appreciate it.

One cannot come away unmoved by this production. It is one that left me wanting to watch it again

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