PRODUCTION: Anthology: After the End
DIRECTOR: Louis Viljoen
CAST: Donna Cormack and Daneel van der Walt
VENUE: The Alexander Bar until September 17
REVIEWER: PETER TROMP
For anyone in love with theatre, there are few more purely fun outings than the ‘Anthology’ series at the Alexander Bar’s Upstairs Theatre. This showcase of some of the brightest playwrights in the city never fails to entertain, offering one bite sized musings on the state of the nation and the republic of the spirit.
There’s always a real sense of play with the works presented, but there’s also the palpable feeling of scribes challenging each other; of a degree of one-upmanship at work – all in good fun, of course. With the latest ‘Anthology’ entry, entitled ‘After the End’, Nicholas Spagnoletti has contributed the poignant and riveting piece ‘abreast’, offering us a glimpse of a world in which something as fundamental as mother’s milk has been corporatized; Jon Keevy has penned the taut political piece ‘The Shepard’, in which an overzealous protégé and her cunning and amoral mentor are engaged in a tense battle of wills; while most of the laughs are reserved for Louis Viljoen’s delightful ‘Cherub-A-Dub-Dub’, in which an apathetic millennial stoner meets her match in the form of a real estate hungry angel.
It’s enormously pleasurable to see the playwrights distil their current concerns and obsessions in such “digestible” chunks. The format really invites each to zero in on a theme in a way that a fully formed piece doesn’t always allow. Despite the authors all being fundamentally different in terms of style, tone and subject matter, the disparate pieces are unified somewhat by a thread of what one can only describe as white South African millennial angst/dread. Although there isn’t a piece that weighs in over 20 minutes, there’s still more than enough to unpack over drinks afterwards.
Selling all of this to audiences are two immensely winning actresses. Donna Cormack shows remarkable range for someone so new to the professional world, handling the varying tones and complex characters – even for the format – with poise and charisma to spare. She is definitely one to keep an eye on. Playing beautifully off her is Daneel van der Walt, who was such a delight last year in Mdu Kweyama’s Baxter production of ‘Reza de Wet’s Missing’. Van der Walt has really come into her own as a character actor. She has that instinctual knack for give and take with her co-stars; what a joy she must be to act opposite of.
Tickets are between R70 and R140 according to date and are cheaper if you pay when you book. You can book by visiting shows.alexanderbar.co.za; or
purchase directly from the bar.