RENAISSANCE. Written and directed by Wessel Pretorius, performed by Len-Barry Simons, Jazzara Jaslyn and David Viviers at The Alexander Bar/Theatre.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
Renaissance is very clever, and funny, and ultimately devastatingly sad. A London Art Museum is the backdrop and setting, into which is inserted a young, gay, Komatipoort actor (Viviers), who escaped to the job of night shift security guard, after a miserable breakup and the discovery that he wasn’t a very good actor. Some of the paintings are also people, and end up sharing their stories, attitudes and quirks, as they come to life in the moment.
Wessel Pretorius has tapped into a highly imaginative parallel universe with art reflecting our perceptions of it back to us with a twist of humour, irony and deep pathos. His writing is all of those things too. I laughed every type of laugh throughout the piece; guffaw, giggle, chuckle, shriek, murmur and even snigger. And then I got sad. Achingly, terribly sad, as the piece twisted, and threaded the inevitable otherness of a Muslim refugee through the philosophy of the ages and back into the here and now.
Paintings tell their secrets
David Viviers holds it all together as the sad, strange, socially awkward young security guard, who reveals his own story, as well as his developing affection for the refugee Yoram who works in the gift shop. Yoram knows everything about art and shares his knowledge, as the paintings tell their secrets. That job is left to Jazzara Jaslyn and Len-Barry Simons who give voice to a range of famous renaissance paintings; some utterly hilarious, some bitter and twisted, some deeply sad.
This play is complicated stuff and there is a lot squeezed into 65 minutes, but I loved it. I loved the direction which is simple, clean and very effective. I loved David Viviers who just makes me want to break all the rules and jump onto stage so that I can hug him. I loved the ideas of the piece, and I loved the words.
Where and when: The Alexander Bar/Theatre until June 10, 2017
Book: Alexander Bar