Scene It: Balbesit

June 24, 2014

Moves that make you giggle...

Tenor, baritone and bass voices that make the blood under your skin vibrate...

Characters you can identify with while they make you laugh as loud as you cheer...

Issues that once verbalised make you catch your breath as your heart races faster...

Music that brings tears to your eyes...

Acting that has a whole theatre of people on their feet applauding the brilliance of this “game”...

 

... that is Balbesit!

 

Saartjie Botha's 'Balbesit' is a play that, with great finesse, uses the game of rugby as a metaphor to highlight the tensions and complexities of contemporary South African life. And she (and the boys) don’t hold back at all. 

 

The words "so exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer. So delighting, it will run for 50 years!” (from the film Moulin Rouge) come to mind after you've experienced this Jaco Bouwer directed production.

 

The issues highlighted (like land ownership and language barriers) are packaged in a way that it will be relevant, regardless of whether you are 25 or 50. More importantly, stepping out of the Artscape Theatre, you realise that you want future generations (not just South African) to learn from the very honest text - words you know are in people’s hearts, which they are too afraid to actually say. 

 

Luckily Botha grabs the ball with both hands and is brave enough to run with it. It's refreshing to have a women tackle issues of manhood. 

 

Whilst referee and coach, hands on each other’s shoulders, dance in circles and use Argentine Tango flicks to show off their dominance and role on the playing field, twenty-three players (some on the field and others on the sideline) try to make sense of their place in the team and in life.

 

The numbers on their backs might indicate what is expected of them, but each cling to the hope of scoring that illusive try that will make him a hero. Manoeuvring on the same piece of red, blood-drenched ground (disguised as 'natural' green grass) the team of actors successfully portray a variety of South African men - giving each audience member the opportunity to relate to at least one character, if not more. 

 

Be prepared to have the bright spotlights of the stadium shock you out of and into a variety of engaging scenes during this 80 minute match of powerful music, dance and text.

 

Some of these scenes include Andile Vellum speaking in sign language, Kyle Seconna stripping down and bearing his soul whilst singing Mark Lowery's Mary, Did You Know and the heart wrenching reference to the photograph of Hector Pieterson. And not forgetting the brilliant performances of Albert Pretorius and Wessel Pretorius who demands your attention with every word uttered.

 

But in the end, it is the older man (played by Neels Coetzee), who never made it past the primary school rugby team, that reminds you that all these man-made issues that we worry about will come to an end and that perhaps we should not focus on land ownership but rather how we can or should go about sharing common ground.

 

Don’t miss this bucket list theatre production running at Artscape Theatre until 28 June.

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