Uncompromising relationship drama pushes the boundaries

Uncompromising relationship drama pushes the boundaries

SHOW: between
Director: Geoffrey Hyland
CAST: Oskar Brown and Nicholas Campbell
VENUE: The Alexander Bar on Strand Street until Saturday, June 7
REVIEW: PETER TROMP

You’d be hard pressed to pinpoint a rawer, more visceral relationship drama than ‘between’ in recent years. The play leaves little to the imagination, but letting it all hang out (the puns shall stop now) is exactly what makes this production so thrilling. In its naked evocation of the way the intimacy of a relationship can unsettle even the most stable, risk averse personas, ‘between’ simply excels.

Director Geoffrey Hyland is one of our most talented stylists, but this production is completely devoid of ornamentation. That does not mean that there isn’t a lot going on. ‘between’ charts the high highs, and low lows of romance and physical attraction in uncompromising fashion, yet Hyland handles it all with a grace and poise that makes even the most harrowing moments feel tender.

The actors deserve special credit for channelling what is pretty challenging and gutsy material. The script is by Oskar Brown, who also performs as the play’s protagonist – a romance-scarred romantic whose litany of heartbreaks and disappointments makes him progressively love shy. Despite a tendency to go out of its way to be poetically profound, the script is poignant, touching, funny at times, and entertaining from start to finish.

At one point in the play, one of the characters says, “Acting leaves you more naked than a stripper,” or something to that effect, and does that phrase ever apply here. I can’t recall offhand a play in which the actors left themselves as vulnerable as Brown and his co-star Campbell do here. Campbell particularly leaves a lasting impression as a slew of characters that are the objects of Brown’s character’s affections. The actor – who does not display a trace of self-consciousness in the production – appears to be living the drama at times. Here’s hoping we get to see Campbell in many more challenging roles in the near future.

* Visit alexanderbar.co.za for bookings and for more information.