It probably sounds like a contradiction of note, but Lara Foot’s new play, “The Inconvenience of Wings” keeps you well-grounded by hypnotically luring you into an almost meditative state as you experience the characters take flight, while also desperately clinging to one another, in an attempt to not get lost in the labyrinth of the mind.
We meet the three characters at various stages of their lives (and even personalities), each dealing with their own but relatable issues…
Sara (Jennifer Steyn), the manic-depressive (bipolar) wife who wants to escape reality but also detests herself for her ‘selfish’ need to leave those she loves behind;
Paul (Andrew Buckland), the husband who gets lost in his mind to become the ‘angel’ his wife seeks because he simply can’t live without her; and
Professor James (Mncedisi Shabangu), their friend and psychiatrist, who although he tries can’t really help them as he himself is struggling with an addiction he refuses to acknowledge.
The presence of angels – depicted through the sound of the flapping of wings or the dreams Sara describe – is the theatrical thread that throughout the play reveals the ‘collapse’ of the mind’s hold on reality. This is revealed through the use of strong imagery that moves from magnificent resilient winged protector to dirty, mud-covered, deteriorating winged enabler.
At various points in Sara’s life these angels are associated with either Paul or James, but Paul most enthusiastically (at stages even desperately) clings to the image of being Sara’s angel, because he can’t imagine a life without her. Seeing their very real struggle with the-self and the-other in an attempt to find a ‘normal’ balance in dealing with Sara’s fate, one can’t but get lured into the drama of it all.
This drama delves into the dark corners of the soul where the very scared self goes to hide when we as humans fear we can’t deal with reality. Some of us get the strength to stand up and move towards the light again while others choose to escape more permanently into a dream-like memory landscape. Both a choice and not necessarily to be perceived as a weakness but rather an alternative reality one is faced with.
“The Inconvenience of Wings” gives the subject matter of bipolar disorder (and the impact it has on the patient, as well as family and friends) the necessary gentle touch it requires, while also powerfully highlighting the truth of it all. It is powerful without being overly provocative, because of the subtle undertone of the ever present fight-or-flight instinct at war with itself. This undertone in fact adds to the understanding of and emotive connection between the characters and the audience.
Nothing in it is offensive (not even the nude scenes) and every moment in time revealed is skilfully put together to add rather than detract from the understanding of the turmoil unfolding on stage. The manner in which Steyn, Buckland and Shabangu act it all out with the necessary respect, poise and passion it requires is a true theatrical triumph.
A special mention must be made of set designer Patrick Curtis for the vision he brings to the stage. The set design allows the characters to “disappear” while the memory of them linger in a very clever yet realistic manner. Design that aids to the story unfolding with the strength of almost a fourth character must be applauded.
With “The Inconvenience of Wings” Foot has woven together an emotive, beautifully delicate production that invites you to contemplate what it truly means to let your thoughts take flight…
Book your tickets at Computicket to go on a highly recommended emotive journey at the Baxter Theatre before run ends 14 August 2016.