Two-act play strong, but lacking in balance

2010-12-07 00:00

ANYONE opening a new theatre company in Durban with the city’s comparatively small community of theatregoers­ needs every ounce of support they can get.

Therefore Pieter de Beer needs to be lauded for creating Full House Productions and for getting La Rosa, a full two-act play and its 10-strong cast as well as all the technical logistics, up and running for its inaugural production.

Full House Productions aims to empower students and post-graduates new to the challenging industry of the performing arts. All strength to De Beer for creating an initiative which might help to stop the migration to Johannesburg of so many of our talented University of KwaZulu-Natal and Durban University of Technology graduates.

I urge those who would like to help Durban theatre survive to head for DUT’s Courtyard Theatre to see La Rosa and support this initiative. The storyline, which tends to get a bit complicated and rambling, is a play within a play — or rather, a movie within a movie. Or perhaps, even more pertinent, a TV soapie within a TV soapie.

Continuing South Africa’s post- World Cup affinity with all things Spanish, the play is set in Spain and sees the cast playing Spanish soap opera stars and their backstage technical crew.

La Rosa is based on UKZN honours student Silindiwe Hlengwa’s Spanish Rose, which she wrote and directed as a one-act play.

Inspired by her humour and fresh approach, De Beer decided to “rewrite the script, extending it, filling it out and giving it a life of its own,” as he says in the programme notes. He says that La Rosa “started off as nothing more than a fun frolic, but as the production has taken shape, I found myself more drawn to the concept of being able to laugh at the soapie within our own lives”.

Perhaps herein lies the problem — De Beer has tried to do too much: take a script that worked in its original format and have it extended, perhaps skewing the balance in the process.

Make no mistake, there is strength aplenty and much humour. Every member of the cast gives a fine performance but overall, there needs to be stronger directorial control and editing.

De Beer appears in the production, but it’s difficult to direct a production and perform in it, as what is required are different languages, different hats, as it were. The director stands back and prunes, embellishes and strengthens, while the actor (being bound by his or her performance) naturally cannot see the big picture.

— Caroline Smart(courtesy of ArtSmart)

• La Rosa runs at the Courtyard Theatre at DUT until December 19. Tickets R60 (R50 students/pensioners). Bookings at 084 244 7425, Helen Richter at 072 953 8169 or e-mail full_house_theatre@yahoo. com

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