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SCENE IT: The DEVIL SONG is in the vices

Barbara Loots

 

The Dal Segno Theatre presented DEVIL SONG, currently onstage at the Avalon Auditorium of the Homecoming Centre, promises audiences a cabaret of villainous proportions.

It is inspired by Audra McDonald's Tony Award winning cycle 'The Seven Deadly Sins', with all but two of the songs featuring in DEVIL SONG overlapping with that original production. As with McDonald's sinful delight, Dal Segno Theatre's production also takes a look at the entertaining side of envy, gluttony, pride, greed, sloth, anger and lust.


The devil is in the vices, and that's what the brand new cabaret, DEVIL SONG, showcases. The style of the show is deliberately structured to focus on the revelation of each sinful element through prose, verse and vocals rather than the development of any singular narrative. DEVIL SONG is unapologetically a thematic exploration. Some may find this more academic than entertaining, but if you're willing to follow Schoeman Smit's performance through the seven sins, as he impressively flexes his theatrical muscles, you're sure to find an appealing vice that perhaps lures you in more than others.


Equal parts sinister and snickers (in the face of the evils we all know but publicly deny), DEVIL SONG asks you to do some mental aerobics, but rewards you with songs and monologues not often put on display. From the impressive list of songs, I left waxing lyrical about a new found favourite, Jeff Blumenkrantz's "My Book". Smit performs this number with the ease and accuracy that would make Sondheim take note: It definitely offers the same fast paced appeal one associates with a great Getting Married Today performance. It's a treat! The songs are complimented by vignettes written by David Fick, Pieter Jacobs and Joanna Weinberg.

Smit's range as an actor and a singer is on full display and he demands the audience’s attention as he commands the stage. Seeing his full skill-set on display one realises what an underutilised talent he is. His delivery of Shakespeare’s "To be or not to be" monologue from Hamlet in Afrikaans is an emotional power-punch: He makes you invest in the character more in but a few minutes, than some actors manage to achieve throughout a whole performance of the play. There's a beauty to hearing Shakespeare in Afrikaans that took me by surprise.


The play switches between Afrikaans and English and draws on an array of accents in doing so. The quick accent changes may require your ear to adjust rapidly to follow Smit into the tale of the next vice, but once you become aware of this, the journey with this devil is an amusing one.


In this show the devil shines in the details too. The direction by David Fick is clear, with the blocking showing purpose and consideration. Widaad Albertus' costume and set design is minimalistic but clever in its impact. The use of seven doorways as gateway representations of the seven sins gives a clear sense of style to the show. Tara Norcutt's lighting design adds to the visual impact of the set design, with the lighting tricking your eyes into seeing glass wear none should be, as is revealed when Smit steps through these to dramatically unveil the magic of shadows at play. The production is charmingly rounded off with musical direction by Ian Bothma and sound design by Melissa George.


DEVIL SONG will be performed at the Avalon Auditorium of the District Six Homecoming Centre until 5 April 2023. Tickets are available online through Webtickets.

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