One of the most anticipated theatre productions on the Main buries itself under a pink plastic pastiche of detritus.
Literally, the mass of objects which includes metres-long tapestries and enveloping costumes, all in an eye-watering palette of fuschia, engulf the talents of Klara van Wyk and Buhle Ngaba while the mass of intertextuality has us lost in a landfill of Fugard, with Barney (Simon) and Beckett blowing in the apocalyptic wind.
Reimagining, or, as is noted in the programme, ‘interrogating’ the male-centric works of South African protest theatre for womxn, is a promising intention, bearing in mind feminism, like pretty much everything else including education, played second fiddle to the fight for political equality. Intersectionality had not yet been termed. Nonetheless, we can go there, and in a retrospective act of correction, probably should. But La Chair De Ma Chair (Flesh of my Flesh) fails to retain the positive aspects of the works it references, creating instead a disconcerting mash of styles that do not appear to coalesce into anything new.
Instead, The Island and Woza Albert! are overwritten to create a cyclical text in a forced relationship with Waiting for Godot.
There are very clever references. Within the performance Mohle (Buhle) tells Lig (Klara) to stop taking the labels off the (need I say bright pink) plastic detergent bottles because we need to remember what was in them – we mustn’t completely overwrite the canon, presumably. And Lig’s costume is a shaggy orb of orange bag netting, representing the orb in Waiting for Godot which, whenever it rose, ended the day’s waiting for the original tramps. But they don’t hold, the landfill capsizes.
And just like the texts disappear into each other, the actors in their actually quite fantastic clochard costuming also often disappear, camouflaged by the overwhelming background of the set. More than once it was case of ‘where have they gone’? after a long mid-festival blink.
Such a pity, because our most promising young clowns, who have shone bright bright in smaller productions, worked so hard. Even from way at the back of packed Graeme Hall, Klara’s comic timing and Buhle’s physicality could be glimpsed, but it felt writer and director Penny Youngleson, herself a crafter of wonderful scripts staged at fest, hung them out to dry this time.
This flesh of my flesh, called from the bones of the earlier men, is not Woza-ed.
La Chair De Ma Chair is on the Main programme tonight at 8 and tomorrow at 11am. Book HERE.
Written and directed by Penny Youngleson, performed by Klara van Wyk and Buhle Ngaba.