Dead Yellow Sands, a drama directed by Bo Petersen, written and performed by Graham Weir, is a true masterpiece.
As I took my seat in the Baxter Golden Arrow Arena and quietly embraced, not just the dimming, but the complete blackout of the house lights, I was reminded of that feeling one experiences when in a sensory deprivation tank… nothing. The theatre equivalent of a sensory clean slate.
Nothing and then the recognition of life in the middle of the nothing, as shadows start framing a face in possibly one of the best displays of lighting (or absence thereof) that I have seen in a very long time. In that moment, it becomes apparent why Guy de Lancey won the 2016 Fleur Du Cap Award for Best Lighting Design for Dead Yellow Sands.
It perfectly symbolises that moment when Weir as a little boy let go of his father’s hand at the funfair and got caught up in the sights and sounds, not realising that he was lost until someone switched off the lights. It is that darkness he now uses as canvas to showcase the characters and places he introduces to the audience in Dead Yellow Sands with a voice that would make the angels cry it is so beautiful, especially when he sings! A tapestry of seemingly unconnected single perspective tales, Weir hauntingly (and with more than a few references to the ocean) highlights the ebb and flow of life, from childhood shenanigans to desperate last breath.
Dead Yellow Sands takes minimalism to the extreme. As the art of the narrative stripped from all bells and whistles, it is the epitome of the power of the spoken word.
Undeniably worthy of the 2016 Fleur Du Cap Award for Best Performance in a One Person Show, Weir’s performance in Dead Yellow Sands is one that will leave you speechless, with the ‘light’ in the darkness lingering in your memory long after you have left the Baxter Theatre. Book at Computicket to see it by 26 November at R110 per ticket.