A tale of four characters’ perspectives on one life-changing event, Foursight explores the murky terrain of school massacres….only this time the violence hasn’t happened somewhere out there in CNN newsland, but rather right here in the heart of a chillingly recognisable suburban South African community. By CARLA LEVER.
All four characters are played with commitment and some deft vocal transformations by Kate Liquorish, as she transforms everything from age to gender before our eyes. Liquorish is a hugely talented actress; Kyla Davis a skilled and generous director. And yet Foursight – the product of their collaboration – left me just slightly underwhelmed.
Certainly the sound bleed didn’t help. City Hall has been transformed into a buzzy festival hub and spaces have proved wonderfully adaptable to festival needs, but soundproof the venues are not. If organ practice is going on in the concert hall (it was), then it’s also going on during the show in City Hall 4.
…All of this is, of course, none of Liquorish’s fault. But perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed it as much if her characters, often deftly honed, somehow seemed larger- than-life – it was as if Liquorish is used to playing in much larger spaces and the translation to a more intimate venue, where the audience sit closer to the stage, didn’t quite work.
There are countless examples of the one-hander character shift narrative in other fringe productions – it’s become something of a set piece for showcasing actors’ skill ranges. (I think here particularly of the gleeful team in Get Kraken, which I had seen just days before in the same venue). The spectres of stand-out past performances like Susan Danford’s I, Claudia, Alicia McCormick and Jason Potgieter’s The Things You Left Behind and Scott Sparrow’s The Performer’s Travel Guide really set the bar for me on this type of theatre. Liquorish is every bit as talented as the others, but for me Foursight wasn’t every bit as good.
Although Davis and Liquorish had clearly worked on the character transitions, using a prop here, a careful motion there, these didn’t always work for me. In some of the more successful moments, I felt the energy of the change shift and a new character emerge smoothly, sinuously…but mostly I found the segues abrupt and the initial accents and gestures a little too stylised for the change to be seamlessly believable.
Whilst I often feel that stripped-down, minimalist theatre works to highlight the narrative skill of the performer in question, in this case the bare set and Liquorish’s simple black outfit seemed to expose subtle weaknesses. The story itself was compelling, with just enough wit to lighten the overwhelming tragedy of the subject matter. Likewise, the characters were engaging, from the self-absorbed schoolgirl who left whole swathes of the audience cringing to the deep pathos of the shell-shocked perpetrator’s mother. Something, though, wasn’t quite satisfying for me.
In short: script, acting, direction? All were all good…but nothing was great. In theory, this team should have been dynamite. Somewhat like my experience of school maths class, I found the equation on paper just didn’t quite add up. DM
Photo: Kate Liquorish.