Multiple-award-winning theatre maker Sylvaine Strike directs a stellar cast in Molière’s deliciously mean comedy ‘The Miser’, which humorously magnifies the madness of a father’s greed, paranoia and suspicion, at the Baxter Flipside until May 25 at 8pm nightly. (There will also be a matinee at 2pm on May 23.)
The play recently walked off with four Naledi Theatre Awards for Best Production of a Play, Best Director (Strike), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Patricia Boyer), as well as Best Costume Design (Sarah Roberts).
Legendary designer Roberts dresses the dynamic cast led by Lionel Newton as the demagogue and miser Harpagon, with Boyer, Mpho Osei-Tutu, Atandwa Kani, Jason Kennett, William Harding, Kate Liquorish and Motlatji Ditodi in the supporting roles.
Strike has established herself as an actress, voice-over artist, creator and director with a diverse career in the mediums of theatre, television and film. She returns to Cape Town, where she studied at UCT Drama School before going to specialise in physical theatre and movement analysis at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.
She is best known for her idiosyncratic, innovative plays that have captivated audiences both nationally and internationally. Strike was the recipient of the 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama and was one of the 25 worldwide nominees in line for the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2010.
She has wowed Cape Town audiences as an actress and director with productions such as ‘Baobabs Don’t Grow Here’, ‘Black and Blue’ and ‘The Travellers’. She was awarded the Fleur du Cap award for Best New Director in 2005 and has devised and directed many productions, including the critically acclaimed ‘The Table’, ‘The Butcher Brothers’, ‘Pregnant Pause’, ‘The Arabian Nights’ by Mary Zimmerman and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
“We are at such a crossroads in our cultural expression in South Africa; as artists we are continuously pressured to create work that is relevant, inoffensive, politically correct and cheap to produce,” says Strike. “My love affair with Moliere’s work goes back a long way. My fascination with Commedia dell’arte and deep love of clowning, coupled with my passion for re-imagining the classics in my own private capacity as there is rarely enough demand to do so for professional purposes, were all factors that urged me to pursue the dream of directing ‘The Miser’.”
With her Fortune Cookie Theatre Company Strike has given a wholly contemporary interpretation to Molière’s timeless 1668 classic which premiered at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in October last year as part of the South African French Season.
Harpagon (played by Newton) is a penny-pinching wart of a father and a pulsating boil on the beaten posterior of his panic-stricken household, ruling over his roost with calculated avarice. But for how much longer? His offspring, Cléante and Elise, wish to marry. Will Harpagon approve of their choices despite the foul smells of poverty afoot? Or will his escalating paranoia snuff out their hopes of happiness once and for all?
Newton and Atandwa Kani were last seen in Cape Town when they both performed in the highly successful Baxter and RSC production of ‘The Tempest’, which transferred to Stratford-upon-Avon for a season there.
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