Life, etc

Physical theatre treat: Our pick of the Fringe Fest’s first week

By Carla Lever 26 September 2014

The first Cape Town Fringe in well underway, offering an overwhelming number of entertainment options. Look no further, discerning Daily Maverick folks: we’ve found you a winner. By CARLA LEVER.

Liezl De Kock has always been one of my favourite actresses – watching her perform, whether verbal or non-verbal works, you are struck by the purity of her intention, her openness. I find her a delight to watch – storytelling gains added magic in her hands. Her exploration of the grotesque in her first solo work Piet se Optelgoed brings all the magic of a childhood fable to meet the glittering dark edge of crackling adult angst. If Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a macabre fairytale and Tim Burton did the staging, this would be it. Although the production title is in Afrikaans, the work is mostly non-verbal, with only the occasional mutterings of recognisable phrases.

Alone in a mysteriously anthropomorphic landscape, a wild and grotesquely misshapen woman goes about her business. Her mischievous pet monster – brought to glorious life by the unseen hand of Lexi Meier, who navigates beneath the intricate set with incredible dexterity – delights in bringing its mother things it has dug up.

Why is all her clean laundry so curiously stained? Why is she always alone? What IS in that mysterious soup? Answers unfold with the wonderfully expansive set, as root vegetables are unearthed along with layers to our protagonist’s character…not to mention a few dark secrets along the way.

No-one does gleeful physicality like de Kock – she has that rare talent of combining spot-on voice and body work with a subtle appreciation of narrative nuance, using every part of her body to tell a story. Every gesture, every movement is complete, is telling. She holds you from the first to the last with her storytelling.

Piet finds the glittering in the grotesque, the tender in the terrifying, the pathos in the painful. Amsterdam Fringe organisers knew a good thing when they saw it – they’ve snapped it up for their 2015 festival. Piet is dark, funny, unforgettable. It’s my fest pick. Don’t be caught napping. Definitely see this one. DM

Piet se Optelgoed – Liezl de Kock, Lexi Meier. City Hall 2 on 25 September at 17h30;  26 September at 12:30; 27 September at 17:30;  28 September at 21:30 and 29 September at 21:30. Tickets cost R60 and R40 (concessions). Photo: Nimh Walsh

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