The Train is the most absurdist little play you should never see.
From five minutes in it was a question of what the fuck? Only in this case there was no question of wanting to know the answer.
Waiting for a train that never comes, will never come. It’s Waiting for Godot. As a three hander. Oh god no.
Yes, we can see the train of redemption promised by the new dawn of democracy will never come and we’ve been waiting here for what seems like forever. Pity that was about the only good idea in an hour of bad ones.
A young white guy telling a black madala to fuck off? What South Africa you living in? He wouldn’t bother. He’d just kick his head in. But hey, we don’t have to be real, we’re talking aburdism here after all. So I guess yeah, the dynamics between the young white guy, the effete coloured guy, and old black guy were pretty fucking absurd. The work gets that right. But it’s just not Beckett in Africa. Never. Nooit. Nyet. Not in a million years.
Ok maybe. It would require serious redirection. Such as telling Adrian Steyn (who plays the coloured guy) to keep both feet on the ground at all times as opposed to the ubiquitous one-knee-bent-leaning-on-the-hip pose that is struck, hands whirling like propellers operated by words attempting to take flight while moored to a body in too-tight white shorts.
Let’s go back to the beginning: three men, black, white, coloured. Their backs to us, dressed in white vests and white gym shorts. Pretending to shave. With cut-throat razors. Repeatedly lifting razor to face and then wiping it on said shorts. Cut-throat. Leads to thoughts of unintentionally self-inflicted nicks. Worst case a severed jugular. Blood, eventual death. Interesting. And immediately lost the moment they turn around and address each other.
“So tell us Luke. Do you like South Africa?” asks the black character Jack (Thapelo Sebogodi) of the white guy (Emil Lars). A question Luke struggles to answer. Freaks out. Whereupon everyone freaks out, with Peter the coloured guy (Adrian Steyn) continually pontificating with one foot half lifted off the ground like a fucking hobbled flamingo. And so it continued for about an hour of this sort of thing. Back and forth and roundabout inanities including of course the newcomer’s (white boy’s ) discovery that this train is never going to come. Interspersed with name-calling (Peter is called Pam and Jack is called Daniels) and a lot of getting bloody upset (a lot of bloodies – which is such a strange outdated swearword) at said name-calling.
Somehow it all winds up with them back with backs to us and trying to not nick themselves with a cut-throat razor.
You know, actually, The Train could be rather clever illustration of our absurd national character. There’s some thought gone into the symbolism. There’s the bare bone chassis of a really worthwhile work, there are just so many cheap parts built on top of it that it’s barely visible. Including the lighting. It was truly as terrible as some of the acting (Thapelo Sebogodi excluded here). Our characters were in the dark more than half the time, and when a light did come on it was so late as to be an afterthought. Fringe venue sure but jeeezus
Add on the inanity of much of the script (I take it this was a devised work), and the fucking hobbled flamingo.
And for gods sake, somebody, go buy a pair of shorts that fit.
The Train is on today (Tuesday 3 July) at 7.30pm, Wednesday at 8.30pm and Thursday at 8.30pm. Book HERE.
Directed by Calvin Ratladi and Thabo Rapoo, choreography by Adrian Steyn, performed by Thapelo Sebogodi, Emil Lars and Adrian Steyn.