Prison cell drama

2009-10-27 00:00

BRINGING Argentinian writer, Manuel Puig’s award-winning play — adapted from his novel — Kiss of the Spider Woman, to life has been a long-time dream for Durban director, Clare Mortimer.

“I saw the film first, it must have been when I was 14, maybe younger, and it had such resonance for me,” she said. “Then when I was at ­university I was lucky enough to come across a copy of the stage play script — which is very different to the film — and I have wanted to stage it ever since.”

Kiss of The Spider Woman has had great success as a straight play and as a musical, but for most people it’s the film version, which earned ­William Hurt an Oscar for his ­portrayal of the tragic and flamboyant Luis Molina, which is most ­familiar.

Two men share a Brazilian prison cell and Molina passes the time by telling Valentin Arregui (played by Raul Julia in the film) ­stories based on the plot of one of ­his favourite films, a wartime ­romantic Nazi thriller which he ­embellishes with additional characters. And an unlikely friendship ­develops between these two vastly different men — the dreamer and the political activist find common ground.

In Mortimer’s production, which ­is at the Catalina Theatre from ­October 29 until November 15, the role of Molina is being played by ­Darren King, while Loyiso Mac­donald takes on the role of Arregui. Both men, and Mortimer herself, have found the play “intensely ­demanding”.

“I don’t think I realised how ­demanding it would be,” the director said. “It’s a very wordy piece but I thought it wouldn’t be more difficult than mastering that. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s a real ­emotional rollercoaster.”

Kiss of the Spider Woman marks another milestone in a stellar year for Mortimer, who gave a career­defining performance in KickstArt’s production of the Margaret Edson play Wit in Grahamstown, Durban and at The Witness Hilton Arts ­Festival, and starred in and directed Shakespeare’s Othello at the ­Playhouse. And she’s hoping that theatregoers who supported those dramas will come out and support her latest work.

“I know Durban doesn’t tend to put its heels on for anything other than pantos and musicals, but they came out for Wit and I’m hoping that that will be on our side,” she added.

Kiss of the Spider Woman runs at the Catalina Theatre from October 29 until November 15, with a special gala performance on October 27 to honour Rainbow’s BASA award, acknowledging its contribution to the arts in KwaZulu-Natal. Tickets are R65, and bookings can be made at 031 305 6889.

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