Hovering: A crash landing

hoveringThis is my opinion: Hovering is not good theatre.

Maybe I saw a bad run? Perhaps I missed the subtly clever method of using such a pathetic character to intensify the tragedy. I don’t think so. Our smattering of an audience chuckled at first, at what I thought were purposefully bad jokes. Because there are some funny lines in the text. But the chuckles were soon sniggers, and then just shifting in seats discomfort noises.

The original text is written by Ron Aldridge but it has been adapted for South African audiences by performer Raymond Rudolph. The play might have merit if acted well but Rudolph was unconvincing in his delivery of the tragicomic character, a man hovering in a hospital waiting room awaiting news of his wife’s condition after a bad car accident.

Hovering was unmoving – in enactment and in effect. Rudolph’s monotonous monologue has no rhythmic quality or comic timing, and is devoid of pathos. To his credit, he appears totally committed to the character; he’s learnt the lines. But either nerves or inexperience mar his ‘becoming’ the man. Unless the effect is meant to be that we feel the pain the character is in?

The play is meant to be tragicomic. The man tells jokes to pass the time whilst he waits; with a laugh he ruminates on life and death, life choices and regret, over love and sex and masculinity, and sex some more.

But because Rudolph’s intended comedy falls flat, the jokes come across as offensive – mostly sexist – and a bit ignorant to current issues. The reference to burning down libraries is meant to be ‘in touch’ with student protest current affairs but is a superficial throwaway line, and hints at prejudice not satire. Sexism seeps through in ‘women are like this and men are like this’ stand-up comedy “have you ever noticed” style… it’s stale, as are most of the one-liners throughout, likely because the script is 22 years old. And the local adaptation adds no magic; it feels plastered on.

The show is exasperating because it’s just an hour of the same – the same ‘emotion’, the same movement on the same plane, the same pace and energy. Where’s the beat by beat shifts in emotional journey? Where’s the subtext that shows what’s going on underneath what’s being said? A character that tells jokes whilst his wife is on the brink of death is masking great inner turmoil, but we don’t see this in Hovering.

Add to this the unimaginative staging around an arbitrarily placed set, a row of plastic chairs (the waiting room), and a weak work is inevitable.

Saying anything more risks mirroring Hovering’s effect. Wishing it would end.

– Sarah Roberson

There is one last performance today at 16.30. Click here for more info & bookings if you wish.

Director: Celia Musikanth
Featured Artists: Raymond Rudolph
Company: on the shoulders of GIANTS
Writer: Ron Aldridge

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