Woordfees: Mamre, impressive bittersweet survival story

March 10, 2017

Wanneer twee vriende, vasgevang in 'n vergete dorpie, droom van 'n lewe sonder bekommernis, neem een die kleed van soldaat en vegter op om die ander se drome te laat waar word. Wat beter as bevryding as 'n verjaarsdag geskenk kan mens dan kry? 'n Verhaal vol kinkels en kabels, van aksies en gevolge, raak Mamre mens se hart aan in die ietwat anderse bandering tot 'n kabaret. Dramaties indrukwekkend met aangryplike musikale diepte. Maak dit deel van jou Woordfees ervaring, met vertonings om 10 Maart (21:00) en 12 Maart (17:00). Kry jou kaartjies by Computicket (R120) of by die deur (R140).

 

The meaning of the name Mamre is found in its two root words…

memer meaning ‘bitterness’ and

marar meaning ‘being strong’.

 

With his latest theatrical offering, award-winning playwright, Nico Scheepers, remarkably captures the balance (and perhaps even the link) between bitterness and survival strength in the cabaret Mamre. Tapping into the nexus between music as storytelling genre and traditional thought-provoking drama, Mamre is cabaret re-invented, perhaps even quasi-cabaret. You will definitely not encounter the mainstream idea of cabaret here, which is a very intelligent theatrical move. At its roots, this is a drama, with Scheepers’ delicately constructed dramatic text gaining further depth and dimension through his collaboration with Liesel Harris-Kruger to lyrically set some of the story to music.

 

At its most basic, Mamre is just a small town story about people. Yet, as you see the story unfold, it offers so much more. It looks beyond the obvious of this deeply devout West Coats town and its people to where the elders refuse to see and the youth can’t but see the immoral that is allowed to walk among them. Ultimately the death of a ‘King’ sees the anointment of a soldier to save the innocent from the sinner. In this equation, Whaden Johannes impresses in this, his debut role as Dylan, the pastor’s son who wants to free his friend Tarra from the Mamre encircled denial-prison that has become her life. The beautifully simplistic set design, that is but a ring of candles (reminding of a symbolic ring of salt that safeguards the encircled from malevolent spirits), ironically however sees Dylan as much trapped by Mamre as Tarra. While her demons may be more physically identifiable, his are hiding in the ignorance of those who should be able to see the evil for what it is, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

Though this cabaret has hints of the Cabaret, its intent is not to make you squirm in that willkommen way, but rather to make you see the truth, the fight and ultimately the survival of the everyday struggles we so easily ignore. The sentiment at play reminds of the Phil Collins song references, “think twice, it’s just another day for you and me in paradise”, while the tone of the music in the production has a strong Coenie de Villiers feel in the way the lingering piano notes are invited to become part of the set as a very emotional echo. As is the key to many a great cabaret, Mamre lures you in with striking song, like a moth to a flame, to reveal something deeper.

 

But here you have the twist, you will not be laughing at any traditional cabaret like absurdities. The story musically infused in Mamre rather shows that life is not always a cabaret, no matter how much we would wish to eternally escape into that theatrical or cinematic idea of paradise, as Tarra so desperately tries. Like any good production it taps into the secret power of music, disguising reality as roughly beautiful, and then subtly leading you out of blissful ignorance into something bigger, more out of control, into a situation where actions have real consequences.

 

Mamre is poignantly packaged to do what theatre ultimately aims to do, tell a story that speaks to you, no matter from which angle you view the tale unfolding… something about it will grab your attention on a deep and very impressive level. It is the theatre version of going to church and being gifted the revelation that great stories can change the world, whilst challenging you to grapple with the bittersweet question of who should (be allowed to) pay the penance for the real consequences of even the most well intended survival actions.

 

Another insightful theatre triumph for Scheepers, this time joining forces with the talented Harris-Kruger. You only have 10 March (21:00) and 12 March (17:00) to still make it part of your 2017 Woordfees experience. Tickets available at Computicket.

 

 

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