Love seems to be a theatre theme in Cape Town this month. Not the superficial, chocolate candy-coated version of it, but the introspective, perplexed reality of the emotion exposed.
In The Shadow of the Humming Bird, Fugard is the theatre version of Van Gogh that he so aptly references ... enticing you to look into the depth of your soul and acknowledge that for resurrection one only needs love. Love for the childlike appreciation of magic and mystical adventures that are captured in the shadows of our life stories. Only once you realise that, can you truly unlock the power of holding infinite possibility in the palm of your hand, as Fugard reveals. This play is beautiful, honest and intimate as you see a legend bare his soul in the relationship between a grandfather (Oupa, Athol Fugard) and grandson (Boba, Marvianoz Baker), as well as the ultimate almost childlike shadow chasing end he foresees for himself. You will never look at the shadow the same way again. Thank you Athol Fugard for the gift of profound theatre where we "start with love and end with Tolstoy". And let’s not forget the escapism setting created by the visionary team of Mannie Manim (lighting), Saul Radomsky (set & costume) and James Webb (sound).
On the other side of the mountain, at the beloved Kalk Bay Thatre, Godfrey Johnson brings iconic Polish ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky to life, with the beautiful text by Karen Jeynes. This cabaret, under direction of Lara Bye, grants you the opportunity to glimpse genius, both that of Vaslav and Johnson, as the latter gives perfect expression to a mad man’s dancing life-jump inspired by a love for all that made him take flight. Although Vaslav has since landed and taken a final bow, the unique manner in which he appreciated all aspects of life has been suspended in mid-air through his diaries, now rediscovered afresh in this production. The choreography by Fiona du Plooy is so sleek that you take it further in your mind and actually visualise Johnson leaping through the air with every note he sings, aided with the bare-bone, honest atmosphere created by Jon Keevy (lighting) and Joanna Evans (set & costume co-ordination). You walk out in awe of the glimpse of genius you were just privy to, realising that the one thing that binds all human beings together is the universal need for love… No matter how broken, we all just want to be loved.
If you don’t go and see Vaslav at Kalk Bay Theatre before run ends 9 August, you will be depriving your soul of a unique love-story. Unfortunately, the Cape Town run of Fugard’s The Shadow of the Hummingbird is already sold out. However, if fate gifts you with the opportunity to be in Joburg (Martket Theatre) or Bloemfontein (PACOFS) when it is showing, don’t dare miss it!