Poignant puppetry

Tonight at 10.30pm and tomorrow at 4.30pm – choose one of these times and go watch Elnora & Nirvana in City Hall 1.

OK, it is in Afrikaans and the programme says English. Don’t let this stop you. If you managed to get through matric Afriks, you’ll understand just fine. And anyway, the work communicates with so much more than fickle spoken language.

A curious tilt of the head. A cooling blow on tea. A struggle to get oneself to standing. A sensual dance in memory of one’s “first time”. A cheeky side glance. A slap.

Nieke Lombard controls puppet Elnora and plays character Nirvana. She is great on stage; she’ll fool you with a picture of innocence, but when she works Elnora, a wise and deeply perceptive soul emerges.

Elnora repeats to Nirvana, “Nog nie vandag nie? (Not yet today?)” She is aware of her impermanence. Her anguished stubbornness won’t let her accept help though, and Lombard plays and manipulates this with poignant precision. She access’s Elnora’s fear and confusion with depth – hard to do with a puppet made of sponge and paper. Yet amazingly, she manages this perfectly.

Elnora & Nirvana is really interestingly crafted – the boundaries are blurred between whether Nirvana believes her alive, or if we’re meant to imagine Elnora is real. Lombard’s work is so clean that we often do…

A profound reflection on ageing and mortality, the piece is terribly moving. You should leave with a large lump in your throat or tears wetting your cheeks. But you’ll laugh a few times before that, don’t worry.

This is powerful, distilled, evocative and transformative theatre at its best. – Sarah Roberson

Click here for production info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.