Magnet Theatre conjures compelling dream world

Magnet Theatre conjures compelling dream world

SHOW: Voices Made Night
DIRECTOR: Mark Fleishman
CAST: Jennie Reznek, Faniswa Yisa, Mfundo Tshazibane, Dann-Jaques Mouton, Thando Doni, Chiminae Ball and Richard September
Venue: Baxter Flipside until March 23 at 8.15pm nightly
REVIEW: PETER TROMP

Dreams are hard to come by in the local theatre world. For all the potential the theatre stage holds for exploring alternative states of mind or narrative methods, it is seldom treated as a fecund space for such experimentation by local theatre makers.

Ass Geoffrey Hyland, one of the few, dedicated architects of dream worlds we have, once told me during an interview, dreams allow us to objectively view our lives from the outside, but also takes us deeper into them.

Magnet Theatre’s ‘Voices Made Night’ is almost unapologetically dreamlike in the way its various stories segue into one another and parts of them get recalled later on, or in the way the identities of characters chop and change without a moment’s notice, or in the way the lighting and sound design transports one to an altogether funkier dimension.

It takes some time getting used to the production’s idiosyncratic design and the way the various stories take shape, with all of their moving parts (narrative) and moving parts (human limbs), but a level of acclimatisation is usually required with any Magnet Theatre production, so singular is the vision of Fleishman and co.

I have at times found it difficult to be fully on board with past productions, but once I got used to proceedings here, I ended up loving ‘Voices Made Night’ more than any other show from the company from the last few years.

The play is based upon short stories by Mozambican writer Mia Couto, who has become celebrated internationally for his fusing of Portuguese with regional vocabulary and the way he has made fantastical African storytelling tropes accessible to the wider world. The language, which has been translated into English by David Brookshaw, has a pleasing absurdist, but hypnotic rhythm to it. Listening to characters trying to describe some of the fantastical stuff happening before the audience’s eyes is a hoot in itself.

I saw a student production of ‘Voices Made Night’ in 2007 that was also directed by Fleishman, of which I was quite critical, but this time around these stories and the confidence with which they are told resonated with me on a much deeper level.
A lot of it has to do with the strength of the cast, perhaps the strongest group of players Magnet Theatre has ever had together on one stage.

They are to a player excellent and bring vibrant life, depth and complexity to even the most minor of character. Don’t miss this physical theatre gem.

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