Corruption, fraud, deception… all these usually evoke a negative reaction following a very depressing news alert, yet who would have thought it could get a very dark, dramatic, comedic twist!? Well, writer and director Louis Viljoen clearly did, and he did so brilliantly in his The Kingmakers.
This multi-award winning very non-pg production, currently showing at the Fugard Theatre, definitely pushes the boundaries, pulls no punches AND pokes the bear. The end result? The theatrical version of every political conspiracy theorist’s idea of a wet dream.
If you want a no-effort mind-numbing night out, this is not for you. Nothing about this play is easy. However putting your mind through an obstacle course of manipulative manoeuvres is so worth the work-out, as you race along with the characters in their pursuit of money, power and almost godlike political omnipresence.
As Louis himself says, “the difficulties that lie at the heart of this play are the presentation of amorality and the exploitative value of gleeful evil”. None of the evil on stage is more gleeful about his own sadistic nature than Arlow played by Pierre Malherbe. Wicked, dangerous and seductive in the way his character wears his lust for power as a badge, you will find yourself embarrassed to admit that you can’t but find him fascinating. Arlow is perfectly balanced by the clinical spin doctor Amy (played by Rebecca-Makin Taylor) and the apparently semi conscience-driven Daniel (played by Brent Palmer). Although, what one would at first sight perceives to be conscience, may actually just be Daniele's fear of failure, which makes him perhaps even more self-driven than the 'evil' Arlow. Together these three characters plot, scheme and manipulate all in the interest of the power of 'the people' for a better 'democracy'... for what are the politically connected if they are not people too... ?
Theatre friend, Charmaine van der Merwe, perhaps best describes the impression you are left with after watching these three characters collide in 'disaster',
“The Kingmakers is fast paced and so believable that I feel uncomfortable to admit that the conniving, swearing, coffee guzzling trio might just be found a few office down the hall from mine. The monologues were so well written and delivered with such appropriate emotion that I take my hat off to the whole team – the kingmakers behind The Kingmakers so to speak!”
As for the set design by Greg Karvellas and Louis… if I were to say, and I am not saying that I am, that the set looks a lot like the upper floor opposition meeting room in what could be, but I’m not saying is, the Marks Building at the legislative hub of our country, that can only be described as spot on! But what I can say is it is as sleek and clinical as the power driven characters that plot 'democracy' within its wall. So in fact just plain perfect!
In the end The Kingmakers experience all comes down to the fact that this play is darkly seductive, enticingly intelligent and so ingeniously woven together that it will keep even the best conspiracy novelists guessing until the very end. You will leave feeling just a little guilty at how much pleasure you got from dancing with the devil, but yet you will also know that you want to go back for more.
Catch the ruthless The Kingmakers at the Fugard Theatre until 19 March 2016. Get your R150pp tickets for this must see dark comedy at Computicket today!