Last week of magisterial ‘Quartet’
Review by Peter Tromp
Marthinus Basson is inarguably one of the greatest living contributors to the local stage, not only as a theatre maker, but also as an educator. He is already a Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement honouree, yet, ever the restless creative soul, he is still operating at the top of his game. ‘Quartet’ is the kind of tight, demanding two-hander that really puts the actors through their paces.
It’s the kind of production we don’t get to see that often on our stages anymore: challenging, requiring one to really concentrate on the subtle, shifting nuances of mood and the textural quality of the language, yet exhilarating to sit through for the risks being taken and the imagination on display. If ever you want a demonstration of the power of minimalism, this is it.
Like his contemporary and fellow Lifetime Achievement winner Chris Weare, Basson just keeps on trucking, keeping the creative juices flowing by engaging in collaborations with the next generation of theatrical talent. Here Basson is working with two immensely gifted young actors in the form of Ludwig Binge and Greta Pietersen.
‘Quartet’ is based on Choderlos de Laclos’ novel ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (which in the 1990s was adapted into the movie ‘Cruel Intentions’) and features protagonists Merteuil (Pietersen) and Valmont (Binge), both decadent, yet jaded libertines, titillating their perverse appetites in the destruction of innocence.
Their sadistic seductions are played out with devastating results in a play that examines the complexities, joys and politics of love, delving deep into such challenging subject matter as nihilism, deep-set ennui and self-loathing. Pietersen especially is a revelation in an unflinching, supremely layered performance. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a young actor so composed in stillness.
This really is a production that will get the pulses of true theatre lovers racing. Treat yourself to an unforgettable night at the theatre, but be quick: there are only a few performances left. ‘Quartet’ ends on Saturday, November 26.
Performances are at 8pm, nightly. On the evening I attended, there were less than 30 audience members. This production truly deserves full houses.
Book at Computicket.