DIRECTOR: Tara Notcutt
CAST: Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, Luke Brown and Stefan Erasmus
VENUE: The Kalk Bay Theatre until May 3
REVIEW: PETER TROMP
‘Undermined’ is the kind of production that the Kalk Bay Theatre has made its speciality over the last decade. It’s fun, spirited, beguiling, clever, and contains just enough of a solid undercurrent of emotion and social relevance to tether the story and make it more than just middle class fodder. As one of the handful venues left in the city that offers usually top quality entertainment together with a dinner option, you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect evening out in Cape Town.
Directed by the seemingly endlessly versatile Tara Notcutt, ‘Undermined’ features three very different, but charming actors that tell the story of Madlebe, an ordinary guy with an extraordinary gift, who hails from Mozambique and travels to Gauteng to find a job and take a better life home to his father and wife to be. However his unique talent of a finely tuned sense of hearing soon propels him up the bureaucratic ladder of the mine he becomes stationed at.
The role of Madlebe is cleverly portrayed by all three actors as the character progresses from a naive, impressionable lad from the country to a world weary, middle aged man seemingly trapped by his success and the allure of the city. The subtle way in which the show portrays Madlebe ultimately losing sight of his original material objectives as he gets sucked in by life in his new environment is ultimately very touching.
The thing I loved most about ‘Undermined’ is how sensually the setting of the play is relayed to the audience. After a while you really feel as if you’re a part of Madlebe’s world, which makes his hero’s journey really affecting. That’s quite a feat for three performers to convey with only the movement of their bodies.
Some folks might find ‘Undermined’s’ sub-textual subtlety a little too murky. “Where are the answers?” they might ask? “What are the questions to begin with?” might be a follow-up question. But Notcutt and her cohorts are not interested in proclamations on the state of the nation, or even the state of the mines, or whatever. Theirs is a more painterly approach – they tell this story of a wide eyed protagonist led astray by forces he is too unaccustomed to understand one delicate brush stroke at a time.
* To book visit, www.kalkbaytheatre.co.za.