#10TheatreFacts: Pierre Malherbe on 'Apple Face'

May 19, 2019

Looking for a play with an unconventional narrative where everything makes sense, because nothing is supposed to? Hold on to your lei and rev up your plastic reindeer, because Apple Face is back at Alexander Upstairs until 25 May 2019.


There's a fine line between psychosis and psychology, and Apple Face’s theatrical impact lies on that decidedly blurred line. It's Constellations without the deeper meaning-of-life conundrum weighing down the vibe of the universe. Instead of exploring serendipitous love and eternal life, Apple Face gives audiences a quick-witted, fresh, midlife-crisis inspired, brilliantly bizarre comedy that brings about bouts of gleeful gasps, stunned laughter, and PDA-inspired nervous giggles. A true triumph of a show!


Pierre Malherbe, the imaginative playwright behind this trippy comedy (also part of the cast alongside Juliette Pauling and Brett Williams), shares some theatre thoughts on this fruity language play of his, directed by Adrian Collins.


1. Where did the idea or inspiration for Apple Face come from?

It started with an initial thought I had of people doing things while listening to a song describing the thing that they’re doing. Does that ever happen? Like someone taking a downtown train while listening to ‘Downtown Train’ by Tom Waits, or sitting at home at 10:15 on a Saturday night, while listening to ‘10:15 Saturday Night’ by The Cure. That’s how I wrote the first scene, with that idea in mind. I also had an idea for a movie where someone witnesses a murder at a trance party, but nobody believes him, and he doesn’t know if he really did or not, because he’s taken too many hallucinogenic drugs. Realistically, I realized that I would never get to make that movie, so I merged that idea with the first scene that I’d already written and turned it into a play.


2. What genre of theatre would you describe Apple Face as?

I would describe it as a surrealist or absurdist comedy. Others have called it a dark comedy. Some people have even described it as satire! So, I guess the audience can decide for themselves.


3. This is not your first play script. What drew you back to the playwriting part of your career?

This is actually my fourth produced script, but the other three were all one man shows. Apple Face is the first one to have other actors as well. I’ve written drafts of other things along the way, so it’s not like I haven’t been writing, but I found a nice flow for this one and so was able to create a draft which I thought was worthy of being staged.

 4. How did you approach the structure and the style of the play?

For this play I really had no idea where I was going. I started with the first scene and took it from there. I didn’t even know how many characters there were going to be at that stage. But, once I had three characters, I thought I should just leave it there and see if I could make it work with just those three for both practical and financial reasons.


5. Without giving too much away, tell us about your character’s Apple Face journey?

My character is a slightly neurotic and socially awkward 40-something person who goes through hell and back a number of times at a 40th birthday celebration at a music festival after taking too many drugs. Or does he? It’s ambiguous I suppose. What’s real? What’s not? Different realities exist in this play.


6. Apple Face had its first run in 2018, was very well received, and is now enticing audiences with its much-anticipated return run. What about Apple Face do you think fascinates or captivates audiences most?

I think a lot of people can relate to the characters and situations at trance parties, raves, or music festivals, so they find those observations amusing. People who have no real experience of that culture or lifestyle have also told me how much they enjoyed it, because they find the dialogue funny, the characters interesting, and of course they love the strong and hilarious acting of my two very talented co-stars, Juliette Pauling and Brett Williams.


7. Do you have a favourite Apple Face line that you think best describes the essence and tone of the play?

“What just happened?”


8. How has the experience been working with Adrian Collins as director? How does his style of directing compliment your style of storytelling?

Adrian has been the perfect director for this piece. He has a wonderful sense of the surreal and a great sense of humour, very similar to my own. It fascinates me how he has managed to bring out a quirkiness and hilarity to the script, the characters, and our performances, which would not have been there without him.


9. Who would be the ideal audience member to come see Apple Face?

Anyone who has ever enjoyed —or endured— a music festival, a trance party, or Africa Burn. Even if they’ve never experienced those things —and not all our audience have— they can still enjoy the absurd craziness of it all.


10. What experience would you like your audience to take away from seeing Apple Face?

To laugh until it hurts while having a legal hallucinogenic trip.


Show: Apple Face

Venue: Alexander Upstairs

Running Time: 65 mins

Director: Adrian Collins

Writer: Pierre Malherbe

Cast: Pierre Malherbe, Juliette Pauling, Brett Williams

Bookings: www.alexanderbar.co.za 


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