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Sunday, July 6, 2008


Mike Broderick is Durban’s main lighting man – by that, I mean he has walked off with the Durban Theatre Awards lighting design award every year since its inception – and deservedly so. His commitment to his work is evident in his results, be they for a one-person production in a small theatre or for a full-on music extravaganza in the Playhouse Opera.

Some years back, Mike started work on a lecture demonstration to tour to schools, in which the requirements and necessity for proper lighting design would be explained. However, this became too technical and so the “lecdem” morphed into a short story which Clare Mortimer – another multi-award winner – adapted. Mike, Clare and performer Bryan Hiles developed this into what is now Jakob. Obviously, Jakobis about light – and therefore, also about darkness.

Appearing on the National Arts Festival’s fringe programme, it’s a skilfully constructed piece on a clever set with a clear storyline, much humour, a good element of emotion and some wonderful gizmos to produce magical lighting effects.

A fine actor with a capacity to “stay real”, Bryan Hiles takes us companionably through the endearing story of Jakob who was rescued from being drowned in a bucket as a baby. He is a strange soul whose skin glows in the dark and the community fears him. Unwanted at birth, he still only feels he is “something” when he’s in the dark. So he wages war on light, keeping it out of the house and trying to capture it when it breaks through. He sees the light contained in the dam nearby – well, “it’s not so much a dam as an ambitious pond” quips Bryan – and steals it away in buckets.

This is a delightful hour’s entertainment of a fresh and innovative nature. – Caroline Smart