THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAN COETZEE. Written and directed by Wessel Pretorius. With Starring David Viviers, Emma Kotze and Wessel Pretorius. Stage Manager: Wicus Louw. Alexander Playhouse.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
Okay. Okay. Let me get my flying ducks in a V formation here. Let me say something that can explain what a trippy mind explosion The Gospel according to Jan Coetzee is. Nope. No idea where to start even. It’s going to have to be with the blurb on the website. Because I need a rudder, a guiding light, a bearing.
“It is a “soortvan” Passion Play that tells the story of a rural Afrikaans boy who believes he’s been called upon by God to lead the Afrikaner to salvation. Three performers unravel Jan Coetzee’s story by piecing together half-remembered scenes and testimonies that chronicle Afrikaner history and myth making. We get to know some of his so-called disciples, including the woman he fell in love with. The Gospel is a portrait of lost faith, changing times and a search for new identities.” Nope. That’s not it.
What it really is, is three amazing performers (including Wessel) doing all the things, and wearing all the clothes, and holding a sheep footstool, and exclaiming, disclaiming, lamenting, bickering, moving furniture, lighting candles, creating characters, swapping characters, speaking preachy perfect poetry and prose, and being hilarious, moving, witty, strange, obtuse, wicked, sarcastic, pure, direct and brilliant. There is weird dancing, and some ballet shoes and a hat that looks like a shoe, and whiteface, and water, and candles and scarves.
Hilarious and mad mash up
Wessel’s words and mind and storytelling are like Tom Robbins on acid. There were times when I felt like I was watching a mash up of Die van Aardes van Grootoor, Reza de Wet, Edgar Allan Poe and Justified.
It is hard to believe that hilarious and mad and layered and complicated and vast story is condensed into an hour, and then the additional layer of the whole thing being a fraught and passive aggressive rehearsal sent me over my own personal delight precipice.
This tiny show is huge. And genius. And so completely fabulously executed. I left the theatre reeling.
(The massive elephant in the room was the elephantine sound of builders in the building; so loud it put the actors off and made us audience members tremble. It was scary.)
What: The Gospel according to Jan Coetzee
Where and when: Alexander Playhouse until 21 November 2019