Scene It: Powerful, insightful and gripping, that is The Vertical Hour

September 21, 2014

Can you run from yourself and your true calling? Does every person really have two personalities, the public one we show to the world and the real one hidden deep beneath the surface?


These are all questions The Vertical Hour confronts you with, and it does so with the most seductive text I have encountered in a very long time. It made me want to run out mid play and go buy it to read over and over again! The only thing that stopped me was that I was mesmerised by the genius that is Michael Richard on stage. I have never seen him give a bad performance, but in The Vertical Hour he had me in the palm of his hand from the word go. You want to both love and hate his character, Dr Oliver Lucas. During interval you are convinced that he will do that one thing that will swing the pendulum of your opinion of him, and then his character totally blindsides you with the gift of that theatrical moment that distinguishes just another play from a magical moment.


The play, penned by David Hare, addresses the ever relevant issue of relationships between people with opposing views, and how life is an ongoing attempt to find compromises in the absence of consensus, as unfortunately we cannot all get what we want. This it does against the background of the 2003 Iraq invasion, as the white elephant stampeding through the room of a family “holiday” that brings together a group of people with a less than conventional life or lifestyle.


I must admit, the idea of yet another war story did not appeal to me when I scrolled through the Computicket theatre options for September, but I am very grateful that I was gifted the opportunity to go see this gem of a play. It is poignant without being heavy. The balance of witty, well penned insight and skilful artistic delivery makes The Vertical Hour a play that has enriched by life for having experienced it. I now know why The Vertical Hour was a Broadway hit, and I dare you to put perception aside and go see it at Theatre on the Bay before run ends on 27 September 2014.


At the end it is essentially a play about, as Dr Lucus describes, “a women who has the air of a broken heart”, as the lady on the over side of his internal debate with his two personalities and her own is none other than Nadia Blye (played by Jackie Rens), the political analyst who advised Bush to go “liberate” the people of Iraq.  


Powerful, insightful and gripping, that is The Vertical Hour, directed by Fred Abrahamse and produced by Pieter Toerien.


(Scene It by Barbara Loots)

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