Having read the promo materials and published the show’s press release right here on Artsvark, I had some idea of what I expected from last night’s presentation of Robyn Orlin’s “In a world full of butterflies, it takes balls to be a caterpillar … some thoughts on falling…“. What I witnessed didn’t come close.
Entering the packed to capacity John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre complex, the stage and some of the first few rows of seats were littered with brightly coloured tents. The show began with one tent moving around the stage, Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe rolling around the stage in the tent bumping into audience members seated on stage. Tambwe eventually stands up, still in the tent and rebukes the crowd for invading her stage, her space. Initially I was not sure if she was genuinely angry, or if this was a part of her performance.
The show comprised two solo performances, both hilariously funny in parts, shockingly funny in parts, most definitely thought provoking. Orlin’s work is a combination of monologue, physical theatre and dance that makes use of technology to enable engagement by the performers with the larger than life screen that forms the back of the stage. This piece addresses the numerous ways that mankind pushes too hard, too fast or too far and falls, the story of Icarus crops up a few times. Eric Languet and Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe are both great physical performers, and drew the audience in with pieces that were both larger than life, but believable.
It sometimes occurs that I wish a play had rolling credits much like a movie, so that I could make note of the music used. This production was one of those, and if the soundtrack had been available on CD I’d be sure to have picked up a copy.
I was only too happy to join the crowd in rising for a standing ovation and based on this experience, will be on the lookout for more work by Robyn Orlin. Sadly the run was only two nights and many people missed out. A big thank you to IFAS (The French Institute of South Africa) and The Market Theatre for collaborating on this fantastic show.