‘Rocking in a Free World’ hits rock bottom

‘Rocking in a Free World’ hits rock bottom

SHOW: Rocking In A Free World

Thousands of fairy lights hanging from the ceiling, a constant buzzing sound from the audience, bulky wooden furniture, the endearing smell of pizza and a ‘kitted out’ stage ready for performance – the Barnyard theatre was ready to rock! The Barnyard Theatre is very different to a conventional, seated theatre, as it gives a new meaning to live performance. The “barn-like” feel of the place, complimented with wooden benches and small table lanterns, really creates a laid back atmosphere, which is enhanced even with the audience being allowed to indulge in snacks and drinks while enjoying any show.

I went to see ‘Rocking In A Free World’ with an open mind and an appreciation for different musical genres. Having never been to a sing-along musical type show before, my excitement started to mount moments before the show was about to kick off and I really looked forward to enjoying some of the ‘golden oldies’ and some of the latest hits sung by professional musicians.

As ‘Rocking In A Free World’ began, the hostess, who had a rather annoying voice, introduced the show and indicated that we were taking a ‘trip’ around the world to listen to various well-known and beloved songs from 12 different countries from around the world. Although I remained excited to watch the performances, I was becoming slightly irritated as the hostess, played by Maryke Buffel, attempted to tell rather ‘corny’ jokes before each country’s music was performed. This felt like an unnecessary ‘audience manipulation tool’. Surely the music should be enough to warrant the audience’s investment and participation in the show.

The cast is made up of a four piece band and four vocalists, who can be commended for their vocal performances, but they just stood in the same place for the entire song and then occasionally ‘busted’ a ridiculous move and randomly encouraged audience participation. I started to envision myself sitting in a pub listening to karaoke tunes. This may seem a little harsh, but when you have people trying to impersonate famous musicians, a little bit of research needs to be done in order to make sure that the character is being faithfully realised and is not completely different to the original icon. British Pop icon Adele – known for her sizable voice and image – was portrayed by a skinny white girl in a mini dress, for instance.

I think that this concept of impersonation is great, but the execution could be way more exciting and entertaining. It would have been nice if the cast was larger in order to make the performances more like a live show and less like a night at the local tavern. After a while, the songs started to sound monotonous and it seemed that the only people who were enjoying it were the drunken ladies in the front row.

* Book on 0219148898.

CAST: Maryke Buffel, Percy Smith, Lee Paver, Petro Liebenberg, Bronwyn Evans, Regardt de Bruin, Ruan Oosthuizen, Vusi Maseko and Fresh
VENUE: The Barnyard Theatre at Willowbridge until May 26
REVIEW: Melissa Cohen